Military Review

The second empire on the road to disaster. H. 3

Crisis deepening in 1869-1870

The May 1869 elections in the Legislative Corps brought a major success to the bourgeois opposition. 3 258 777 voters voted for it - almost one and a half million more than during the previous 1863 elections. The government received 4 477 720 votes, thus losing more than 1863 thousand votes in comparison with the 800 election results. In addition, in order to win an election, the authorities had to resort to falsification of voting in a number of localities. The imperial authorities used the "administrative resource".

Two weeks before the elections, the Russian ambassador to Paris, Count Stackelberg, noted that the government of Napoleon III would succeed in avoiding defeat, mainly due to the support of the peasants, and also because he had “all the threads leading to the stock exchange”, that corruption ”, that it“ neutralized the influence of large cities by joining to their territory pieces from rural communes under the pretext of bringing the number of voters to 35 thousand souls, as established by law for each electoral district ”. “In addition,” noted Stackelberg, “the opposition is extremely divided.” Indeed, the majority of the peasantry voted for official candidates.

However, the success of the opposition was obvious. In all major cities, Republicans won the most votes. In Paris and Lyon, the government suffered the greatest defeat. “Paris and Lyon,” the socialist Combo reported to 1869 in May, “gave the empire one of those blows from which governments rarely recovered. In Paris, from 300 thousand voters for the government voted only 70 thousand, in Lyon from 60 thousand voters, no more than 12 thousand. ”

The election of 1869 was the impetus for a new upsurge of the revolutionary movement in France. In the second half of 1869, numerous strikes broke out in various parts of the country. “Strikes, some strikes and strikes again ... an epidemic of unrest is rampant in France, paralyzing production,” noted the right Proudhonist Friborg. The strikers were: the miners of the Loire coal basin, whose output at that time accounted for over 25% of the output of the entire French coal industry; the Anzensky coal mines of the Northern Basin, which employed about 12 thousand workers; coal miners in the departments of Gar and Tarn; workers of various industries in Lyon - henchmenchiki silk, foundry workers, copper smelters, bronzovshchiki, metalworkers of other specialties, textile workers, hatters, bakers, syromyatniki, saddlers, joiners, plasterers, painters, stoves, tinsmiths, cartwrights, gas workers; foundry workers, carpenters, Marseille cartwrights; spinners of Rouen; plasterers, foundry workers, marble workers, syromyatniki, weavers, brushes, basketmakers, carpenters, Paris trade employees; Vienne carpenters, Notre-Dame-de-Vou miners in the La Mure coal region, etc.

In the overwhelming majority of cases, workers sought wage increases in an amount that at least partially compensated for the rising cost of basic necessities and rent. The strikers also demanded a reduction to 11-10 hours of workday, the abolition of predatory fines and other illegal deductions from their wages.

Some strikes were long and stubborn. Some speech suppressed by force. The largest were strikes by miners of the Loire Basin, Lyon silk makers, Paris syromyatnikov. Started on 11 on June 1869, the strike of the Kantenskie miners (St. Etienne region), who demanded a revision of the wage rate and a shorter working day that lasted for 12 hours under extremely difficult conditions, was suppressed on June 17 by government forces. 11 workers were killed, including two women. The massacre perpetrated on the Kantenskie mines caused a wide resonance in France. The entire municipal council of Saint-Etienne resigned, noting in his statement the mean behavior of the soldiers and insisting on their removal from the city. The French press made a big fuss. The government had to withdraw the punishers from Saint Etienne. However, 72 miner was brought to justice for participating in the strike, 60 people among them were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment.

In 1869, during the peak of the strike movement, there was a revival and further development of the French organizations of the Internationale, which was defeated in 1868. Hundreds of the striking workers of Lyon, who did not achieve a solution to their problems, joined the Internationale. The Marseilles organization was greatly strengthened, supplemented by workers of various professions who had joined the International, as well as sailors. New sections of the Internationale were formed in Rouen, Elbef, Besançon, Grenoble and other places.

A powerful wave of the strike movement accelerated the emergence of new professional associations of the French proletariat. They were then called the syndical chambers. By the end of 1869 in France, there were about 60 syndicate chambers of workers and employees. An even greater number of workers associations were in the formative stage. The strike struggle led to the idea of ​​the need to create syndicate chambers in large industrial cities of the federations. In November, the 1869 was created by the Federation of Paris. An example of the capital was soon followed by Lyon, Marseille, Rouen. The task was to create a general French federation of trade unions.

Ideologically, the labor movement was fragmented. Unity was not. As before, the Proudhonists had a serious influence. There were small groups of Blanquists. They believed that a relatively small number of determined and well-organized people could make a revolution. “Instructions for an armed uprising”, written by Blanqui in 1867-1868, noted that the “Parisian people” should have participated in the upcoming uprising, but he appeared in Blanca in the arena of struggle only after the uprising was started by a small group of revolutionaries.

Another group was neo-Kabins. For them, the traditions and the French revolution of the end of the XVIII century were typical. and, in particular, admiration for the Jacobin Republic of 1793. Their political ideal was actually limited to such a bourgeois republic, in which, in their opinion, the real realization of democratic freedoms is possible. Neo-Jacobins reflected the growth of republican sentiment among the urban petty bourgeoisie, dissatisfied with the policies of the government of Napoleon III that had ruined them. Therefore, the neo-Jacobins criticized mainly the big financial and industrial bourgeoisie.

In addition, there were anarchists in France. Since the end of 1868, Bakunin’s subversive activities in France have intensified. By this time, Bakunin founded the anarchist organization Alliance of Socialist Democracy. True, in Paris Bakunin never enjoyed serious prestige. Despite all his attempts, he could not become the leader of the labor movement in the capital of France. However, in the southeastern France, mainly in Lyon and in Marseilles, Bakunin achieved some success at the end of the 60, managed to subordinate to his influence the most active at that time figures of the Lyon and Marseille organizations of the International.

In January, 1870 in Paris almost started an uprising. On January 10, Prince Pierre-Napoleon Bonaparte assassinated Republican Journalist Victor Noir, an employee of Marseillaise, who came to him as the second of the Blanquist and journalist Pascal Grusset, who quarreled with him. This murder shook up workers Paris. On January 12, in the Paris suburb of Neuilly, where the coffin with Noir’s body was brought, about 200 thousand Parisian workers arrived. They were ready to oppose the empire on the first word of the politician and founder of the Marseillaise, Henri Rochefort. He actually called them on the eve of his newspaper to end the Bonaparte dynasty. “For eighteen years now,” wrote Rochefort, “as France is in the bloody hands of brigands, who are not satisfied with the execution of Republicans on the streets, but still lure them into vile traps to kill at home. French people, don't you still think it's time to end this? ”

Blanqui and his followers, who arrived from Brussels, attended the event. There were about 2 thousand people, "well-armed and seriously organized." Socialist Flurance insisted that the funeral procession go through the center of Paris to the Pere Lachaise cemetery, because he expected that in this case it would turn into a political manifestation that could turn into an insurrection. However, Rochefort and other leaders opposed it. A rebellion would lead to slaughter. The government has dispatched about 60 thousand soldiers ready to quell a riot. From the report of the Russian military agent Major-General Prince Wittgenstein on February 8 of 1870 addressed to the Minister of War you can learn about the government’s military preparations for the day of the funeral of Victor Noir. “On the day of January 12,” reported Prince Wittgenstein, “when the whole of Paris, starting from the government, was expecting unrest, all the troops located in Paris were under arms. From the troops located in the outskirts of Paris, a cavalry division was called to the city. ”

Soon there was a new aggravation. A strike in Creuse at the Schneider metallurgical plant began. 19 January 1870 of the year over 10 thousand workers of this company stopped working in protest against the dismissal of members of the delegation, who came to negotiate with the administration regarding the transfer of the management of the pension fund to the workers. January 20 in Creuso to suppress the strikers were sent to government troops. As a result of the arrests, 24 people were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment.

Shortly after the strike at the Schneider factories, new unrest occurred in Paris, caused by the arrest of Rochefort. He was detained by 7 February. He was presented with an arrest warrant pursuant to the sentence of the court of the corrective police, who sentenced him to six months in prison for an article published in Marseillaise on January 11 1870 in connection with the murder of Victor Noir. Around 300, a man led by Miller, the editor of Marseillaise, with a shout "Long live Rochefort!", "Long live the republic!" Organized a demonstration. Her troops dispersed. At various locations in Paris, in Belleville, on Parisian Street, on the streets of Noyet, Vincent, Oryon, Rampontnau, Saint-Maur, on Belleville Boulevard, in the Renault passage, as well as in the Tample district and elsewhere, barricades were built. However, the uprising was poorly organized and government forces quickly occupied all the barricades.

7 February, as well as on the day of the murder of Victor Noir, Varlin and other Parisian socialists, given the lack of preparation of the revolutionary forces, called on the Paris workers for "patience and calmness", pointing out that "the moment for decisive and immediate action has not yet come." “The revolution is rapidly approaching,” read the appeal of the members of the Paris organization of the Internationale to the workers of Paris. “We will not slow down its course with impatience, quite legitimate, but at the same time capable of playing a destructive role. In the name of the social republic to which we all aspire, in the name of saving democracy, we urge all comrades not to compromise such a favorable position. ” As a result, the mass action of the working class in Paris did not happen.

The Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Justice initiated mass arrests. For example, February 8 arrested members of the editorial board of Marselese - Miller, Fonviel, Pascal Grusset, Amber, Bazir, and active members of this newspaper Puisang, Kae, Arthur Arnoux, Abenek, Derer. Fluransu managed to escape. He fled to England. In the case of the February 7-8 riots in Belleville, people were prosecuted "for participating in the rebellion" of 94, mostly workers. They were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment.

In this way, these events showed that France and especially Paris were on the verge of a massive social explosion. What was needed was only a significant excuse (they were the defeat of the French army in the war with Prussia) and organization. The 7-8 events of February 1870 in Paris showed how poorly organized the anti-empire action was. It is not surprising that he was "easily put down by the police, who were willingly helped by the bourgeois Belleville and Montmartre," as the Russian ambassador to Paris, Count Stakelberg, reported to St. Petersburg.

The strike movement continued on. The January strike in Creusot was followed by new major strikes in Saint-Quentin, Lyon, then in March again in Creusot, in April in Fourchambault, then in Paris and in a number of other industrial centers. The second strike of workers at the Schneider metallurgical plant began on March 21. The forces were hastily sent to Creozo. Among the strikers were arrested. Another major strike, which began on 8 on April 1870 in the Fourchambault industrial center, embraced about 2 thousands of workers in the metallurgical enterprises of Buag, Rambour and Co.. The miners of the nearby iron mines joined the strikers, as well as the workers of a similar enterprise in Tortron located near Furshambo and owned by the same company. The strikers demanded higher wages. Troops were also summoned to Fourshambo. Numerous arrests have been made. The strike of the Parisian foundry workers, which began on April 16, lasted about four months. She was supported by Parisian metallurgists of other specialties. In the vicinity of Lyon, about 7 thousand agricultural workers went on strike in this period. In the following months, preceding the Franco-Prussian war, the strike wave did not subside.

The strike movement led to an increase in the popularity of socialist ideas and an increase in the number of sections of the International Working Friendship Association. In the first months of 1870, new sections of the Internationale emerged in Lille, Besançon, Rubé, Tourcoing, Dijon, Reims, Rethel, Gonfaron, Kon, Creuse, Fourchambault, Saint Quentin and many other localities. In April, 1870 in Paris had 16 sections of the International. By mid-April, four regional federations of the International — Paris, Lyon, Marseilles, and Rouen — were institutionalized in France. Total French section consisted of about 250 thousand. People.


20 On April 1870, the government published a new constitution, consisting of 46 articles, a compromise between the authoritarian and parliamentary regime. The Senate and the Legislative Corps now partly shared with the emperor the legislative power; they got the right to vote by item budget; the cabinet as a whole was declared responsible before the chambers, etc. However, the emperor Napoleon III retained such important prerogatives as declaring war, appointing members of the Senate, the right to pardon, the right to remove those appointed by the chambers of ministers , the right to address the people through a plebiscite, etc. By decree of 23 on April 1870, the French people convened in their committees to answer the question: does it approve of the liberal reforms introduced by the emperor with 1860 in the constitution, with the assistance of the highest state bodies, and ratifies the constitution of April 20 from 1870?

The question was posed in such a way that an affirmative answer actually meant not only recognition of liberal transformations, but also loyalty to the Second Empire. The proclamation of April 23, with which Napoleon III addressed the people, said: “Give me a new proof of your affection. Having answered affirmatively to the question posed to you, you will turn away the threat of revolution, put order and freedom on a solid foundation, and facilitate the transition of the crown to my son. ” Plebiscite was to be held on 8 May. The significance of the plebiscite was to consolidate the shaky position of the Second Empire and the Bonaparte dynasty by universal acceptance of the liberal constitution.

The Paris section of the International opposed the plebiscite. The socialists said that to participate in the plebiscite is “to vote for despotism inside France and for external war”. 24 April a manifesto was published in Marseille. It protested against the violation by the government of the sovereign rights of the people by falsifying the principle of universal suffrage. “It is necessary,” said the manifesto, “that a categorical condemnation of the monarchical regime, a complete, radical approval of the only form of government capable of satisfying our legitimate aspirations, a democratic and social republic, would come out of the ballot box.” Therefore, the best answer to a plebiscite should be to abstain from voting. The manifesto listed the basic requirements of the socialists: the transformation of mines, canals, railways, banks, etc. from the means of exploitation, as they are in the hands of "capitalist feudal lords", into public enterprises that function in the interests of all citizens; full reorganization of taxation, which is currently progressive only for the poor; the socialization of the landed property of the clergy; suppression of abuses of large and small officials; compulsory, free, universal education; the abolition of the "blood tax", that is, military appeals to the permanent army, etc.

The bourgeois republicans, the liberals and the radicals, hurried to dissociate themselves from the socialists so that they would not be mistaken for revolutionaries. They, as well as the neo-Kookins, rejected the proposal of the socialists to jointly protest against the plebiscite. Bourgeois Republicans launched a broad campaign for a negative vote.

The government of the Second Empire took measures to prevent not only socialist, but even radical bourgeois propaganda in rural districts. In addition, the blow was dealt to the socialists and, above all, to the French sections of the International. They were beheaded in the days preceding the plebiscite. Across the country, arrests of socialists began on charges of belonging to the International or of complicity in a "conspiracy" against Napoleon III, invented by the Paris police prefecture on the instructions of the government. In order to decapitate and completely disorganize the workers' and socialist movement, two major processes were organized - the third process of the International and the “process in Blois” over the alleged participants in the attempt on the life of the emperor.

The results of the May plebiscite exceeded the initial expectations of the French government itself. The authorities were counting on 5-6 million votes. The optimists supported by the government counted on approximately 5 million votes, i.e., on as many votes as the official candidates received during the last election. 8 May, the government received 7 358 786 votes. They belonged to the overwhelming majority of the peasants. The authorities widely used the "administrative resource", as well as the political ignorance of the peasantry. The fabrication of the case of the attempt on the life of the emperor and the organization of widespread persecution of the socialists, which greatly undermined the position of the opposition, also had a significant influence on the results of the voting. It is also worth noting that the socialists still had weak positions among the peasants. In addition, many representatives of the urban population, the bourgeoisie, who were hostile to the Napoleonic regime, chose to give their votes to Louis Bonaparte in order not to "promote the revolution" by negative voting or non-participation in it.

22 June 1870 in Paris, the third process of the International began. 8 July was announced the verdict on the third process of the Paris organization of the Internationale. Varlin, who fled to Belgium, as well as Joanard, Combo, Myura, Malone, Pendy and Elygon were sentenced to a year in prison and a fine. The remaining defendants - to two months in prison and a fine. The Paris International Organization was declared non-existent. Almost simultaneously, the trial was also prepared over members of the Lyon Federation International. In Lyon, 38 people were tried. As a result of numerous arrests in Paris and in the provinces, the organization of the International in France has lost its assets.

To be continued ...
Articles from this series:
The collapse of the Second Empire

145 years of the Paris Commune
Second empire on the road to disaster
The second empire on the road to disaster. Part of 2
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  1. sherp2015
    sherp2015 25 March 2016 07: 02
    In the wake of people's discontent with the harsh living conditions, during revolutions (coups) rascals very often come. Ukraine doesn’t have to go far.
    There is hope that someday a patriotic native of the Stalin type will come to power and turn its head to parasites living on the body of the people
    1. Rastas
      Rastas 25 March 2016 21: 23
      Revolutions and coups are not the same thing. In Ukraine, no revolution did not smell.
      1. jktu66
        jktu66 26 March 2016 11: 57
        Revolution and coup are synonyms
  2. Kibalchish
    Kibalchish 25 March 2016 07: 27
    Good article. Few of these.
  3. parusnik
    parusnik 25 March 2016 07: 37
    It's nice to read, it's all about the case .. Here is another Samsonov, even the presentation style is different ...
    1. Cartalon
      Cartalon 25 March 2016 10: 10
      The material is clearly taken from some capital Soviet labor on the history of France
      1. parusnik
        parusnik 25 March 2016 16: 23
        And you know, I re-read it quite possibly .. and I’ll even call the period roughly, the stylist of the presentation reminds the end of the 60s and the middle of the 70s .. And most likely the first part about the Paris Commune .. was at the end of the source ... but that would be accepted for the fact that the author himself wrote, the parts are rearranged .. Let's wait until the end ...
        1. Rastas
          Rastas 25 March 2016 18: 41
          Yes, the style is very similar. In Soviet times, there were many books and articles dedicated to the Commune. For example, the 2-volume edition "Paris Commune" edited by doctors of historical sciences E. Zhelubovskaya, A. Manfred and others.
  4. AllXVahhaB
    AllXVahhaB 25 March 2016 14: 14
    When will it reach the Franco-Prussian War ???
  5. Vladislav 73
    Vladislav 73 30 March 2016 19: 11
    How many articles I read, the feeling does not leave that many moments are written off from today's Russia ... primarily in terms of socio-economic .... and there are a lot of similarities in domestic politics! request
    The manifesto listed the basic requirements of the socialists: the conversion of mines, canals, railways, banks, etc. from the means of exploitation, which they are in the hands of the "capitalist feudal lords", into public enterprises operating in the interests of all citizens; a complete reorganization of taxation, which is currently progressive only for the poor; socialization of land ownership of the clergy; suppression of abuses of large and small officials; compulsory, free, universal education;
    In my opinion, very topical and modern! what
  6. Jääkorppi
    Jääkorppi April 1 2016 07: 17
    And Emperor Alexander III put pressure on any reforms in the Russian Empire and actively recruited loans in France and England, which led to the defeat in WWI and the revolution. It was necessary to take a closer look at Napoleon's "experience"! Revolutions and uprisings are not taken out of the blue.