Primary Source # 4: Revolutions of 1848

The Overthrow of the Orleanist Monarchy
[Page 559]
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]
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.


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3 thoughts on “Primary Source # 4: Revolutions of 1848

  1. #9 How does evidence from this document fit into or alter your understanding of the period?

    The primary sourced confirmed most of what I believed regarding the people of France during this time period. France has a history of violence and strength, and this was a clear factor in the role of government. I was a little surprised however that the French government was, not necessarily so easy, but not such a difficult government to overthrow. I was also surprised when I realized the amount of support received by the people of France towards the new government established by the mob. The mob seemed as if they wanted to give the people everything they wanted, and it seemed somewhat like an “immature” government, looking to please everybody when it is very unlikely they will be able to do so. All in all I was half surprised by the reaction from the people and some of my previous ideas were confirmed.

  2. 7.What purpose did the author have in writing this document?

    The Resurgence of Nationalism by the Construction of Boulevards

    One of the causes of the French Revolution was the unemployment rate constantly increasing, just as the prices for food and goods. Most of the unemployed men were construction workers. The author’s goal was clearly to motivate the people’s feelings towards nationalism and the “new France” they would build (“they” being the French people). We can clearly see that goal in the following quote: “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.” To gain the people’s acceptance and trust, the author promises to give jobs to everyone. As Barrett says, work should be a right, not a priviledge. Since the city streets were filthy, narrow, and turned Paris into a maze, it is obvious the government would create jobs for the construction workers to clear up the streets and to build the nice, wide, and clean boulevards we know today. Therefore, the author gains the French’s loyalty and nationalism rises in France, as the people get together to establish and improve their country.

  3. 2.When was it written and what are the historic circumstances of its composition?

    The Emergence of the Provosional Government

    On February 24th, 1848, the capital of France was destroyed, and the Orleanist monarchy was overthrown. The people of France rebelled against the government, and this led to the emergence of a provisional government. The statement was trying to motivate France into believing in this new government, and uses the previous government as a comparison. An example of this is seen when it says, “That government has fled, leaving behind a trail of blood that forbids it ever to retrace its steps.” The provisonal government felt, ”Pressing necessity, and ratified by the voice of the people . . .” The composition of this decree is mainly to show the french people what they plan to do. It is designed to prove to them that there will be new labor laws, and that every man in France will have a job. The government wants people to feel that working is a right, and not a priviledge. They announce that those who cannot find work will be set up in national workshops. The provisional government is attempting to respond to the people’s needs, and to address the pressing issues of the nation.

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