Documents of the Revolution of 1848 in France

J. H. Robinson, ed.,
Readings in European History
(Boston: Ginn, 1906), 2: 559-562

Hanover Historical Texts Project
Scanned by Brooke Harris, October 1996.
Proofread by Angela Rubenstein, February 1997.
Proofread and pages added by Jonathan Perry, March 2001.

The Overthrow of the Orleanist Monarchy

[Page 559]
Robinson's Note: The provisional government established in Paris after the mob had attacked the Tuileries, February 24, 1848, immediately issued the following proclamation.

In the name of the French people:

A reactionary and oligarchical government has just been overthrown by the heroism of the people of Paris. That government has fled, leaving behind it a trail of blood that forbids it ever to retrace its steps.

The blood of the people has flowed as in July; but this time this noble people shall not be deceived. It has won a national and popular government in accord with the rights, the progress, and the will of this great and generous nation.

A provisional government, the result of pressing necessity and ratified by the voice of the people and of the deputies of the departments, in the session of February 24, is for the moment invested with the task of assuring and organizing the national victory. It is composed of Messieurs Dupont (de l'Eure), Lamartine, Cremieux, Arago (of the Institute), Ledru-Rollin, Garnier-Pages, Marie, Armand Marrast, Louis Blanc, Ferdinand Flocon, and Albert (a workingman).

These citizens have not hesitated a moment to accept the patriotic commission which is imposed upon them by the pressure of necessity. With the capital of France on fire, the justification for the present provisional government must be sought in the public safety. All France will understand this and will lend it the support of its patriotism. Under [Page 560] the popular government which the provisional government proclaims, every citizen is a magistrate.

Frenchmen, it is for you to give to the world the example which Paris has given to France; prepare yourselves by order and by confidence in your destiny for the firm institutions which you are about to be called upon to establish.

The provisional government wishes to establish a republic,--subject, however, to ratification by the people, who shall be immediately consulted.

The unity of the nation (formed henceforth of all the classes of citizens who compose it); the government of the nation by itself; liberty, equality, and fraternity, for fundamental principles, and "the people" for our emblem and watchword: these constitute the democratic government which France owes to itself, and which our efforts shall secure for it.

Decrees of the Provisional Government Relating to the Workingmen

[Page 560]
Robinson's Note: The workingmen and their leaders played an important part in the February revolution. This fact is emphasized by the decrees in the interest of the laboring classes which were issued by the provisional government on the day following its creation.

The provisional government of the French republic decrees that the Tuileries shall serve hereafter as a home for the veterans of labor.

The provisional government of the French republic pledges itself to guarantee the means of subsistence of the workingman by labor.

It pledges itself to guarantee labor to all citizens.

It recognizes that workingmen ought to enter into associations among themselves in order to enjoy the advantage of their labor.

The provisional government returns to the workingmen, to whom it rightfully belongs, the million which was about to fall due upon the civil list.

[Page 561] The provisional government of the French republic decrees that all articles pledged at the pawn shops since the first of February, consisting of linen, garments, or clothes, etc., upon which the loan does not exceed ten francs, shall be given back to those who pledged them. The minister of finance is ordered to meet the payments incidental to the execution of the present edict.

The provisional government of the republic decrees the immediate establishment of national workshops. The minister of public works is charged with the execution of the present decree.

Proclamation of the Second Republic

Robinson's Note: The formal proclamation of the second French republic is very characteristic of the momentary situation.

[Page 561] In the name of the French people:

Citizens: royalty, under whatever form, is abolished; no more legitimism, no more Bonapartism, no regency.

The provisional government has taken all the measures necessary to render impossible the return of the former dynasty or the advent of a new dynasty.

The republic is proclaimed.

The people are united.

All the forts which surround the capital are ours.

The brave garrison of Vincennes is a garrison of brothers.

Let us retain that old republican flag whose three colors made with our fathers the circuit of the globe.

Let us show that this symbol of equality, of liberty, and of fraternity is at the same time the symbol of order - of order the more real, the more durable, since justice is its foundation and the whole people its instrument.

The people have already realized that the provisioning of Paris requires a freer circulation in the streets, and those who have erected the barricades have already in several places made openings large enough for the passage of wagons and carts. Let this example be imitated everywhere. Let Paris reassume its accustomed appearance and trade its activity and confidence. . .

Louis Napoleon's Campaign Manifesto

Robinson's Note: Although Louis Napoleon had, after the last of his two early and futile attempts to make himself emperor, been imprisoned, then exiled, he was, after the February revolution, elected a member of the Legislative Body. When it came to choosing a president under the new constitution, he was naturally considered as a candidate, and issued the following campaign manifesto (November, 1848).

[Page 562] Louis Napoleon to his fellow-citizens:

In order to recall me from exile, you have elected me a representative of the people; on the eve of choosing a chief magistrate for the republic my name presents itself to you as a symbol of order and security.

Those proofs of so honorable a confidence are, I am well aware, addressed to my name rather than to myself, who, as yet, have done nothing for my country; but the more the memory of the Emperor protects me and inspires your suffrages, the more I feel compelled to acquaint you with my sentiments and principles. There must be no equivocation between us.

I am moved by no ambition which dreams one day of empire and war, the next of the application of subversive theories. Brought up in free countries, disciplined in the school of misfortune, I shall ever remain faithful to the duties which your suffrages and the will of the Assembly impose upon me.

If elected president, I shall shrink from no danger, from no sacrifice, in the defense of society, which has been so outrageously assailed. I shall devote myself wholly and without reservation to the consolidation of the republic, so that it may be wise in its laws, honest in its aims, great and strong in its deeds. My greatest honor would be to hand on to my successor, after four years of office, the public power consolidated, its liberties intact, and a genuine progress assured. . .


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