1848 Revolution – Second Republic in the history of France

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1848 Revolution – Second Republic in the history of France

Duke of Orleans, Louis Philippe was chosen by the French people as their king, as he supported 1830 revolution. People thought that he would rule benevolently. on the contrary Louis Philippe also chose dictatorship. François Guizot, the prime minister of Louise Philippe influenced him to choose dictatorship. Louis Philippe inefficiency in foreign policy added fuel to the fire. Finally in 1848, people of France decided to revolt against Louis Philippe.

Reasons for 1848 Revolution

After the July revolution, Lafayette, a senior most leader united all the political groups. Lafayette participated in 1789 revolt also. On his advise, constitutional government was formed in France and Louis Philippe was chosen as their king. Louis Philippe amended 1814 charter to form a new constitution for France. Voting rules were simplified. Due to this change, double number of people got the right to vote. Even this change could not satisfy the people as only middle class rich people got the right to vote newly. Among the 2,80,00,000  people, only 2,00,000 people had the right to vote. Rich landlords secured majority in Chamber of Deputies. Common people were denied the right to participate in the election procedure of Chamber of Deputies. Peasants, labourers, artisans were not considered eligible to vote. Their opinion was not taken into consideration.

Evolution of Socialist way of thinking

Socialist ideas gained popularity among the people. This is also one reason for the 1848 revolution. Industrialisation had both good and bad results. Society was divided into capitalists and labourers. Day by day capitalist grew rich. As the production was carried on the machines, many labourers became unemployed. Day by day their situation was deteriorating. They lived in the heinous conditions, at the mercy of the capitalists.

At this juncture, philosophers, intellectuals and nationalists tried for a better balance of society. They propounded new theories regarding running the factories and the relation between capitalists and labourers.

All these theories were based on socialist ideals. Writers like Saint Simon and Louis Blanc brought awareness among the common people regarding the socialist ideals. They suggested the factory workers to establish trade unions.

Saint Simon was the first person to express the view that factories should be owned by the state. He also gave a slogan “To each according to his ability; To each according to his work”. (Work based on ability and wage based on work.)

Louis Blanc followed the ideology of Saint Simon. Louis Blanc severely condemned the economic policies of Louis Philippe. Louis Blanc opined that factories should be run by the workers and it is the responsibility of the state to provide employment to each and every person in the country.

Workers established trade unions and started representing their problems to the management. Slowly workers started revolting against the capitalists.

François Guizot influenced Louis Philippe to support the capitalists. Due to this workers and common people turned against the government. People had decided to replace the July government with new government which would fulfill all their needs.

Lamartine, a republican leader, announced that ‘Monarchy is banned and Republican government will be formed”.

Rickety situation of Louis Philippe

Louis Philippe summoned Chamber of Deputies to get him elected as the king. But Louise Philippe did not have proper support. Among the 430 members, only 253 attended the meeting and among them only 219 participated in voting. After the election also all the political groups got united against Louis Philippe. Some leaders wanted to select Louis Napoleon, Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew, as the new king. Republicans wanted to found democratic government.

Second Republic

All the party leaders established a provisional government. Popular socialist leader Louis Blanc represented the socialists. Government was established under the leadership of Lamartine, popular republican leader. This event is popular in the history of France as “the second republic”.

All the efforts to continue the Orleans dynasty for foiled. To establish republican government, common people attacked the parliament and drove away the deputies. Republicans were helped by the socialists in their efforts to form new government. All the important government buildings were captured by the republicans. Socialist leader Louis Blanc was inducted into the new government. Announcement was made declaring that ‘from now on wards France would continue as a republican state’.

According to second republic constitution, elections were conducted to elect new president. Louis Napoleon, Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew was elected as the new president of France. Due to his victory Bonaparte family reputation was restored. In no time Napoleon stabilised his position by living up to the expectation of the French people. Thus a second empire was established and the second republic also perished in no time.

Republican form of government and rise of Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III) were the results of 1848 revolution.

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