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A History of the Third French Republic by Wright

Including the Prime Minister Floquet


now had both Moderates and many Radicals against him, including the Prime Minister Floquet, and was, on the other hand, supported openly or secretly by the Imperialists and Monarchists, advocates for varying purposes of the plebiscite. The Royalists, who thought their chances of success the most hopeful, wanted to use Boulanger as a tool to further their designs for the overthrow of the Republic. Not only did he receive funds from the pretender, the comte de Paris, but an ardent Royalist lady of rank, the duchesse d'Uzes, squandered millions of francs in furthering Boulanger's political schemes as leader of the Boulangists: the "National Party" or "Revisionists."

In June, 1888, Boulanger brought forward in the Chamber a project for a revision of the constitution. He advocated a single Chamber, or, if a Senate were conceded, demanded that it be chosen by popular vote. The power of the Chamber was to be diminished, that of the President increased, and laws were to be subject to ratification by plebiscite or referendum. The measure was naturally rejected, but Boulanger renewed the attack in July by demanding the dissolution of the Chamber. In the excitement of the debate the lie was passed between Boulanger and the President of the Council of Ministers, Floquet. Boulanger resigned his seat and in a duel, a few days later, between Floquet and Boulanger, the dashing general, the warrior of the black horse, and the hero of the popular song "En rev'nant

d'la revue," was ignominiously wounded by the civilian politician.

But Boulanger's star was not yet on the wane. He continued to be elected Deputy in different departments, and the efforts of the Ministry to cut the ground from under his feet by bringing in a separate revisionary project did not undermine his popularity with the rabble, the jingo Ligue des Patriotes of Paul Deroulede, and the anti-Republican malcontents. In January, 1889, after a fiercely contested and spectacular campaign, he was elected Deputy for the department of the Seine, containing the city of Paris, nerve-centre of France. It is generally conceded that if Boulanger had gone to the Elysee, the presidential mansion, on the evening of his election, and turned out Carnot, he would have had the Parisian populace and the police with him in carrying out a _coup d'etat_. Luckily for the country his judgment or his nerve failed him at the crucial moment, and from that time his influence diminished. The panic-stricken Government was able to thwart his plebiscitary appeals by re-establishing the _scrutin d'arrondissement_, or election by small districts instead of by whole departments. Moreover, when the Floquet Cabinet fell soon after on its own revisionary project, the succeeding Tirard Ministry was able to pass a law preventing simultaneous multiple candidacies, and impeached Boulanger, with some of his followers, before the Senate as High Court of Justice. Instead of facing trial, Boulanger and his satellites Dillon and Henri Rochefort fled from France. In August they were condemned in absence to imprisonment. Boulanger never returned to France, and with diminishing subsidies his following waned. The elections of 1889 resulted in the return of only thirty-eight Boulangists and, when in September, 1891, Boulanger committed suicide in Brussels at the grave of his mistress, most Frenchmen merely gave a sigh of relief at the memory of the dangers they had experienced not so long before.

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