chapter  3
27 Pages

Nineteenth-Century Adventures

WithCharles Tilly

On 25 February 1848, news of yet another French revolution, started in Paris on the previous day, reached Lyon—Lyons for English-speakers. Several hundred weavers marched down into the city center from the silk-producing quarter of Croix-Rousse. Singing “La Marseillaise,” they proceeded along the Rhone River, then crossed the city’s central island to the Place des Terreaux and the Lyon city hall. Overwhelmed by the crowd, the military on hand asked the acting mayor to declare the Republic from a city hall balcony. After he did so, members of the gathering entered the hall and chose an executive committee consisting of weavers plus a minority of bourgeois republicans. During the preceding July Monarchy (1830–1848), organized silk weavers had missed few opportunities to show their strength by marching in funerals and on authorized holidays. During insurrections of 1831 and 1834, they had also marched. But outside of crises and authorized public assemblies they had until then generally avoided anything like the self-initiated parade of February 1848, if only because royal officials could take the very fact of their organized assembly as evidence that they were visibly violating the legal ban on workers’ coalitions.