chapter  19
18 Pages

THE SECOND REPUBLIC, 1848-51

With the fall of Louis-Philippe, power moved away from the notables and towards Parisians, particularly the crowds in the streets. Significantly, the Chamber of Deputies was deserted by 4 o’clock on 24 February, as the provisional government nominated by the deputies went to the Hotel de Ville to be consecrated by crowd acclamation. To republican deputies, several of them sons of members of the 1792 Convention or veterans of the struggles of the 1820s - Ledru-Rollin, Lamartine, Arago, Garnier-Pages, Cremieux, Carnot, Dupont de l’Eure (whose parliamentary career had started in 1797) and Marie - were added four non-parliamentary members: the editors of the republican paper Le National, Marrast, and the socialist-leaning La Reforme, Flocon; the prominent socialist intellectual Louis Blanc; and a token worker, Alexandre Martin, known under his nom de guerre in the left-wing underground Societe des Saisons, ‘Albert’. The leader of the government was Alphonse de Lamartine. A former legitimist, sometime diplomat, distinguished Romantic poet, scathing critic of the July Monarchy and author of the bestselling Histoire des Girondins (1847), which convinced republicans that he was a sincere ally, he enjoyed enormous popularity. He had the experience and standing to represent the new republic internationally as minister of foreign affairs. Moderates and conservatives throughout the country considered him a bulwark against extremism and war.