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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

While Cavaignac was still in power


[Sidenote:

Archbishop killed]

[Sidenote: End of bloodshed]

At this time more than a hundred thousand destitute men had flocked to the national workshops. They rose as of one accord. The rising of June 23 was the most formidable yet experienced in Paris. The number of the workmen alone exceeded that of several army corps. The unity of grievances and interests gave them an _esprit de corps_ similar to that of an army. The whole eastern part of Paris was barricaded like a fortified camp. Instead of a mere revolt, the government found itself entering upon a civil war. General Cavaignac, the Minister of War, was placed in supreme command, the executive commission resigning its powers. He summoned all available troops into the capital. Regardless of private interests, Paris was treated as a great battlefield in which the enemy was to be attacked in a mass and dislodged from all his main lines. The barricades were battered down with field and siege artillery. Four days and nights the fight lasted. Whole houses and blocks in which the insurgents had found a lodgment had to be demolished. On the third day the Archbishop of Paris was struck by a bullet while trying to stop the bloodshed. On both sides the fight was waged with inexcusable savagery. The National Guard, with a few exceptions, fought side by side with the regular troops. The workmen, threatened with the loss of their subsistence, fought with the courage of despair.

At the point of the bayonet they were at last driven into the northeastern quarter of the city. There, plied with grape and canister from every direction, they were brought to the point of surrender.

[Sidenote: Cavaignac]

[Sidenote: Louis Napoleon]

After this hard-won victory, the government did not hesitate to transport without trial the whole mass of prisoners taken alive. A policy of reaction set in. The government workshops and other concessions to socialism were abandoned. General Cavaignac, at the direction of the Assembly, retained his dictatorial powers until a new Constitution could be drafted. It seemed as if Cavaignac was marked to become the permanent ruler of France, but his own rigid republicanism stood in his way. It was at this time that Prince Louis Napoleon once more came into prominence. When he first made his reappearance in Paris he was requested to leave by the Provisional Government. Retiring to England, he awaited developments, while his friends and supporters agitated in his behalf. During the supplementary elections he was nominated for the Chambers by four districts at once, and, despite the government's efforts, he obtained a fourfold election. A vote of the Assembly declared the election valid. With unwonted self-command the Prince declined to take his seat, on the ground that it might embarrass the government in its difficult situation. His letter to the president of the Assembly ended with the significant declaration that if duties should be imposed upon him by the will of the people he would know how to fulfil them.

[Sidenote: France spellbound]

Three months later, in the midst of the debates on the constitution, while Cavaignac was still in power, Louis Napoleon was re-elected to the Assembly--this time by five departments. His hour had come. From this moment he was a recognized aspirant for power. The great name of his uncle shed its glory upon him. The new constitution of the Republic provided that a President with executive powers should be elected by a direct vote of all citizens. Louis Napoleon at once became a candidate. In an address to the people he declared that he would devote himself without stint to the maintenance of the Republic. In well-worded generalities something was promised to all the classes and parties of France. The other candidates were Cavaignac and Lamartine. Out of seven millions of votes cast in this election, five million went to Louis Napoleon. The mere glamour of an imperial name cast a new spell over France.


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