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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

The result of the so called popular plebiscite was announced


The plebiscite]

[Sidenote: Foreign congratulations]

[Sidenote: Palmerston dismissed]

On December 21, the result of the so-called popular plebiscite was announced. Louis Napoleon had been elected President for ten years by an alleged vote of 7,473,431 ays against 641,341 nays. He was clothed with monarchical power and was authorized to issue a constitution for France. Outside of France the results of the _coup d'etat_ were received with equanimity. Pope Pius IX. went to a review held by General Gemeau in Rome and begged him to congratulate Prince Louis Napoleon for him. Lord Palmerston in London, it was stated, told the French Ambassador that he "entirely approved of what had been done, and thought the President of the French fully justified." The British Ambassador at Paris was instructed to make no change in his relations with the French Government, and to do nothing that might wear the appearance of English interference. It appeared that Lord Palmerston had once more acted on his own initiative. He was requested to resign. Before long the dismissed Minister had an opportunity of showing the government how formidable an adversary he could be.


[Sidenote: Louis Napoleon in power]

[Sidenote: Empire foreshadowed]

justify;">On the first day of January, Louis Napoleon was reinstalled as President of France in the Cathedral of Notre Dame. The day was made a public holiday. On New Year's Eve the Diplomatic Corps had congratulated Prince Napoleon at the Palace of the Tuileries. A few days later some of the more prominent of the President's opponents, among them Changarnier and Lamorciere, were conducted to the Belgian frontier. On January 10, the President banished eighty-three members of the Legislative Assembly. Some six hundred persons who had been arrested for resisting the _coup d'etat_ at the same time were taken to Havre for transportation to Cayenne. On January 14, the new constitution was made public. All real powers were vested in the President. He had the initiative for all new measures, as well as the veto on deliberations of both Senate and Legislative Assembly. The Senators were to be appointed by him. The sessions of both bodies were to be held behind closed doors. The impotence of the legislators was offset by their princely salaries. Senators were to receive 30,000 francs per year, while the Deputies drew half that sum. The actual sessions of the Legislature were limited to three years. The President himself was to draw an annual salary of 12,000,000 francs. The money for these expenditures was raised by extraordinary means. A decree on January 22 confiscated all former crown lands and the estates of the Princes of Orleans. The press was gagged by a decree prohibiting the publication of any newspaper without the sanction of the government. All liberty poles were chopped down, and the motto of "Liberte, Fraternite, Egalite," was tabooed. On February 29, the elections for the Legislative Assembly were held. The government nominated all the candidates, and practically all were elected. Late in March, Prince Louis Napoleon opened the Senate and Corps Legislatif. His address throughout was couched in the language of a monarch. While he conceded the intention of the republican reforms to be harmless, he suggested the possibility that he might be called upon "to demand from France in the interest of peace a new title, by which the powers that have been conferred upon me may be confirmed once for all." A Cabinet was formed of the President's most devoted followers, under the nominal leadership of Persigny. One of the first votes of the Legislature, after fixing the President's salary, was a grant of 80,000,000 francs for public works wherewith to occupy the laboring classes. This done, the President made a triumphal tour of France. The government officials saw to it that he received a magnificent welcome wherever he appeared.

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