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distrust on the part of Great Britain, and it was not im-
probable, in case of war, that Britain would be found with
Germany's foes. Before the last evil days there was some
effort to clear away the hostility and suspicion. Germans
often said they desired the friendship of England, and
that the two powers working together could ensure the
peace of the world. Many Englishmen wished that a
friendly understanding could be reached, and would
have given much to win the true friendship of the German
people. They were not, however, willing for their naval
superiority' to be impaired. A British leader speaking in
1912 declared that naval power was a necessity to English-


feared in the

Efforts to
effect a bet-
ter under-



Statement of



Failure of
the efforts

men but not to Germans. To Germany it meant expan-
sion, to England existence. All the greatness and power, he
said, won through so many centuries of sacrifice and effort,
could be swept away if British naval supremacy were
impaired for a moment. In 1907, at the Second Hague
Conference, England had proposed limitation of arma-
ments, but Germany had absolutely refused to consider it.
Indeed, Germans boasted that they could keep up the
race, in which England must soon fall behind. English
leaders announced that their naval construction would be
regulated by what Germany did. They were most anxi-
ous to come to some understanding by which both powers
would cease the construction of so many warships, but a
decisive supremacy over the German Empire they were
firmly resolved to maintain. Germans were not willing
to grant a "naval holiday," but in 1913, at a time when
great changes in the Balkans caused them to desire in-
crease of the army above all things, there appeared to be
some slackening in their building of warships, and peaceful
men in both countries hoped that better things would re-

One particular effort was made to bring about better
relations. In 1912 Lord Haldane, lord chancellor, and
one who loved and respected the best of German things,
went to Berlin on the emperor's invitation, to try to bring
about an understanding. Germany proposed a treaty
between the two countries by which each would engage
not to attack the other. In event of either being involved
in war, the other should observe toward the party in-
volved a benevolent neutrality, though this agreement was
not to affect existing engagements. England refused,
for the result, it was thought, would have been to permit
Germany to support her allies in the Triple Alliance, while
Britain would have been debarred from supporting against
German attack her friends, with whom she was not allied.
The negotiation failed, therefore, but it seemed to smooth



the way for a settlement of the differences Ix'tween llie
two. Indeed, in the earlier part of 1914 an Anglo-German
agreement was drawn up, by which all the principal dif-
ferences between England and (Jcrniany, with respect to
the Bagdad Railway and Asiatic Turkey, were satisfactor-
ily arranged, and it almost seemed that Sir Edward Grey
had at last done with Genuany what he had accomplished
with France in 1904. This treaty, it is said, was to have
been signed in the autumn, but before that time the Great
War had begun and Germany and the British Empire
were locked in a mortal struggle.

This would seem to have been one of the most tragic
things in the recent history of Europe. The two great
antagonists, whose enmity and rivalry had been so omi-
nously growing, appear almost to have reached a peace-
able and honorable settlement just before it was too late.
It is probable that Great Britain was sincere in wishing for
peaceable settlement of the issues between Germany and
herself, and that she became at last most willing that the
German Empire should have room for colonial expan-
sion. What the real German intentions were cannot
yet be certainly known. Doubtless many Germans sin-
cerely desired to have friendship and good understanding
with Britain. But some critics have seen good reason
to believe that Germany entered into the negotiations of
1912 and 1914 not so much because she wished lasting
peace with Great Britain, but because the military leaders
hoped to keep Britain inactive until they had first dealt
with Russia and France.

of 1914

Tragic con-


General accounts: G. Egelhaaf, Geschichte der Neuesten Zeit
(4th ed. 1912); B. Gebhardt, Handbuch der Deutschen Geschichte
(2ded. 1901); Graf Ernst Reventlow, Deutschlands Ausicdrtige
Politik, 1S88-1913 (ed. 1918), strongly nationalist and Pan-
German; T. Schiemann, Deuischland und die Grusse Poliiik,


aruio 1901-1914- (1902-15); Fiirst Bernhard von Biilow, Deutsche
Politik (ed. 1917), trans, by Marie A. Lewenz, Imperial Germany

Treaty of Berlin: F. Bamberg, Geschichte der Orientalischen
Angelegenheit im Zeitraume des Pariser und Berliner Friedens
(I89'-2); G. B. Guarini, La Germania e la Questione d'Oriente fino
al Congresso di Berlino, 2 vols. (1898); A. Avril, Negociations
Relatives au Traite de Berlin, 1875-1886 (188G), documented,
best account, by a diplomat; B. Brunswick, Le Traite de Berlin,
Annate et Comments (1878).

The Triple Alliance: A. C. Coolidge, The Origins of the Triple
Alliance (1917); W. Fraknoi, Kritische Studien zur Geschichte des
Dreihnndes (1917); A. Singer, Geschichte des Dreihundes (1904);
A. N. Stieglitz, L'ltalie et la Triple Alliance (190G); E. von
Wertheimer, Graf Julius Andrdssy, 3 vols. (1910-13); and
above all, Politische Geheimvertrdge Oesterreich-Ungarns von
1879-19U, Volume I (1914), edited by Dr. A. F. Pribram from
the archives of Vienna, constituting one of the most important
contributions to the history of diplomacy for some time, English
trans, by D. P. Myers and J. G. D'A. Paul, ed. by A. C.
Coolidge (1920).

Relations with Russia: S. Goriainov, "The End of the Alli-
ance of the Emperors," American Historical Review, January,
1918, based on papers in the Russian archives made accessible
by the Russian Revolution, and explaining certain important
matters for the first time.

Policy before the war: a good brief account is G. W. Prothero,
German Policy Before the War (1916).

Germany and England: Charles Sarolea, The Anglo-German
Problem (1915); B. E. Schmitt, England and Germany, 17^0-
1914 (1916); Archibald Hurd and Henry Castle, German Sea
Power (1913).

The Bagdad Railway: Andre Cheradame, Le Chemin de Fer
de Bagdad (1903); D. Eraser, The Short Cut to India (1909);
Morris Jastrow, The War and the Bagdad Railway (1917); E.
Lewin, The German Road to the East (1916) ; G. Mazel, Le Chemin
de Fer de Bagdad (1911) ; Paul Rohrbach, Die Bagdadbahn (1902).
Biographies and memoirs: Margaretha von Poschinger,
Kaiser Friedrich, 3 vols. (1898-1900), trans. Life of the Em-
peror Frederick (1901); H. Welschinger, VEmpereur FrSdSric
III, 1831-1888 (1917) ; A. H. Fried, The German Emperor and the
Peace of the World (1912) ; (Christian Gauss, editor). The German



Emperor as Slwum in Uh Public Viicranra^ (lOir,); Hermann
Freihcrr von Eckhardstcin, Lebcnscrimicrun<jen nnd Polth.'^che
DenkwUrdigkeitcn, 2 vols. (1920), contains some interesting and
important information upon attempts to draw Germany and
England together; Fiirst Chlodwig zu Ilohenlohe-Schillmgs-
furst, Denhnirdicjiceiten, 2 vols. (ed. 1907), trans, by G. W.
Chrystal (190G).

The down-
fall of




Le peuple a devance la Chambre, qui hesitait. Pour sauver la patrie
en danger, il a demande la Republique.

Proclamation du Gouvernement de la Defense Nationale aux
Frangais, Septembre 4, 1870: Archives Diplomatiques, 1871—
1872, ii. 503.

Si la France est attaquee par I'AlIemagne, ou par I'ltalie soutenue
par TAllemagne, la Russie emploiera toutes ses forces disponibles
pour attaquer I'AlIemagne.
Si la Russie est attaquee par TAllemagne, ou par I'Autriche soutenue
par I'AlIemagne, la France emploiera toutes ses forces disponibles
pour combattre I'AlIemagne.

Military Convention, August 1892 (Basis of the Dual Alliance):
Documents Diplomatiques, U Alliance Franco-Russe (1918).

If the rise of the German Empire affords the most
striking example of the swift growth of a European power,
France after 1871 gives the best instance of the recovery
of a people crushed down by terrible defeat. Before 1870
France was the leading state on the Continent. Her
armies had the greatest reputation, and were supposed
to be the best in the world. Paris was the center of
European diplomacy. Frenchmen were the leaders in
international affairs. But the events of the Franco-
German War changed all this at once and completely.
France was utterly defeated. The German Empire
suddenly took first place in Europe. The reputation of
French arms was entirely destroyed for the time. And
there were few who could really think that France would
again contend successfully with her powerful and victori-




ous neighbor. Berlin now held tlie j)iaee that Paris long
had had, and Bismarck directed the diplomacy of Europe.

The months between July, 1870, and June, 1871, have
been remembered by the French as L'Annee Terrible, the
terrible year. In the course of that time France had been
crushed to the dust by the foe, then torn by the uprising
of the Commune in Paris. She had lost two important
frontier provinces, with 1, GOO, 000 inhabitants. From the
war itself she had suffered casualties of almost half a mil-
lion. Her war materials had been captured. The Ger-
mans had carried destruction and suffering over a wide
extent of the country. And there had been an indemnity
of five milliards of francs to pay to the victors, while the
cost of the war had been ten milliards more. Germans
believed that France was so far crushed that she could
not recover or be dangerous to them again for a long time;
and the friends of France could only look to the future
with a hope which they could not yet feel.

Yet France began to recover almost at once. Soon
she had risen up so far that German generals were filled
with the uneasiness that always comes to the strong
who have abused their strength, and Bismarck devoted
himself to keeping France without friends and surrounding
Germany with allies. After the defeats of the sixteenth
and seventeenth centuries Spain slowly sank in decadence,
nor did she ever grow great again. So it was with Sweden
after her conflict with Russia, and Holland after strug-
gling with France. Austria never regained her old
place after 1866, and it has often been so with others.
Either they had completely exliausted their strength
and resources, or else they lacked stamina and the
power of recuperation. But no nation has ever had the
qualities of greatness more thoroughlj^ than the French.
From the ruin of the Hundred Years' War, from the
losses of her wars of religion, from the disasters of the last
years of Louis XIV, and from the complete overthrow


The in-
of France






in Paris

when Napoleon was defeated by Europe, always she
easily recovered, because of the excellence and strength,
the vitality, the brave character, the inexhaustible courage
of French men and women. At present, after the long
drain and exliaustion of the Great War, in which she bore
the brunt, the best augury of the recovery of France from
her grievous weakness is the memory of what she did in
other times. And for Germany, in this time of humilia-
tion and ruin, the example of France after 1871 may be,
perhaps, the best encouragement that she can have.

Before the recovery began, however, there was one more
terrible disaster. The Commune of Paris came at the end
of the war, while confusion was still reigning in France.
Paris had long been the stronghold of republican, radical,
and socialist sentiment. Many of the workmen of the
city had hearkened to the preaching of doctrines which
were not only opposed to empire and monarchy but to
much of the existing social system; and they had taught
that very sweeping changes would be necessary to bring
happiness to the mass of the people. Opportunity now
came for the application of some of these teachings. The
siege of Paris was just over, and Paris had greatly suffered.
In the general prostration of business many of the work-
ingmen had no employment. They had until recently
been members of the National Guard which undertook
the defence of the city, but the Assembly which had been
elected to make peace with the Germans now dissolved the
Guard. At the same time the Assembly decided to hold
its meetings in Versailles instead of in Paris. The people
of Paris had proclaimed a republic in 1870; but the
Assembly was monarchist and conservative, and the lib-
erals and radicals of the cities distrusted what it might
do. Moreover, payment of obligations, which had been
suspended by a moratorium during the siege, was now
ordered, and immense hardship resulted to a vast number
of people who had no employment or business and so



could not pay their debts. Hence a great number of
poor, hungry, savage people, who still had the arms with
which they had fought against the Germans, stood in
idleness, distrusting their government, and very ready
to follow new leaders.

In the Middle Ages, when nations had not yet arisen
and before states were completely formed, cities, and
among them notably Paris, had often had much inde-
pendence and right to regulate their own affairs. In
medieval France, as elsewhere in western Europe, a local
jurisdiction, whether rural or urban, with powers of self-
government was known as coimnunitas or commune.
Afterward, in the later period, in France commune was
the name of one of the small administrative districts into
which the country was divided. Now France was strongly
organized with almost everything regulated by a central
government, of which the radicals did not approve.
Therefore they taught that improvement could come
only through decentralization of the power of the state,
with the management of affairs in the communes. Thus the
different communes, which had different interests, would
be able to manage affairs to their own best advantage, and,
especially, the cities, more liberal than the rural districts,
would be able to develop without interference from a
government based largely on the country. This scheme
was supported by some republicans who feared that
monarchy would be restored by the central government,
and by socialists, who believed that thus they could effect
the reforms which they sought for. In Paris the idea was
taken up by the discontented. After some conflict, in
IVlarch, 1871, they seized control of the commune, and the
red flag of the socialists was adopted.

The men of this Commune appealed to the people of
France to follow them in their revolution, and for a
moment it seemed to observers that France, just defeated
by the Germans, was now about to split up into pieces.

The Com-
mune of
Paris, 1871

The Com-
mune over-






local govern-
ment and
the army

But the revolution in Paris was not destined to spread
like the uprising of 1917 in disorganized Russia. The
people were against such innovation. As the French
prisoners were returned from Germany, the Assembly
made ready to overthrow the Commune, and this was done
after a second terrible siege during April and May, and a
fearful week of fighting in the streets. The city suffered
far more from the bombardment of the French armies
and the incendiarism of the Communalists than it had
from the Germans, and the government showed no mercy
in the vengeance which it took. The radicals and the
socialists and extremists were completely put down, and
again they nursed in silence savage hatred against the
bourgeoisie who had crushed them.

France now proceeded to the work of restoration and
building for the future. May 10, 1871, the Treaty of
Frankfort was ratified by the National Assembly. This
Assembly, having chosen Thiers to exercise the executive
power, was now carrying on the government of the coun-
try. The first tasks were to free the occupied dis-
tricts of Germans by paying the indemnity. The French
people responded magnificently to the appeals of the
government, and far more money was subscribed to the
loans than was needed. In the autumn of 1873, six
months before the term allowed by the Treaty, all the
indemnity had been paid, and the last German soldiers
were out of France. Financiers all over the world were
surprised at the amount of money which French peasants
and workmen had brought forth. There were not wanting
Germans who declared that if their government had known
what France had, a greater amount would have been
taken; and that if France were ever conquered by Ger-
many again, the indemnity would be vastly greater.

For two years, until May 24, 1873, Thiers and the
Assembly governed France. During his time two im-
portant reforms were made. In 1871 the excessive cen-


tralization of the government, which had prevailed since
Napoleon I, was partly undone when a larger amount of
local government was established. Local voters were to
elect the council of the commune, and in the smaller
communes the mayor was to be chosen by the council. The
central government was to appoint the mayors only in
the principal towns. In 1872 the army system was re-
organized, by a law which, in effect, introduced the mili-
tary system which had given so much success to Prussia.

As the work of reconstruction proceeded, the most im- A republic
portant problem was to settle the form of the govern- proclaimed
ment. Thiers had been appointed by the Assembly.
The Assembly had been elected for the purpose of making
peace; but neither the term of its power nor the extent of
its powers had been defined. The Assembly did not
dissolve itself, however, and in the existing state of things
there was no power able to dismiss it. In September, 1870,
the revolutionists in Paris, who overthrew the imperial
government, had proclaimed a republic. This Republic
had been promptly acknowledged by the United States,
and, after a little delay, by the principal governments of
Europe. But such a government had not been constituted
by the people, and it was soon evident that the representa-
tives whom they had elected to the National Assembly
were not for the most part in favor of a republic in France.
In August, 1871, however, the Assembly accepted for the
time being the government existing, and gave to the
executive the title of "President of the French Republic."
The Rivet Law by which this was done asserted also that
the Assembly had constituent powers. Accordingly,
the Assembly undertook to decide what form of govern-
ment should be permanently established.

Most of the members of the Assembly- wished a res- xhe Re-
toration of the monarchy. Some hoped for a Bonapartist public
empire again. Thiers himself had been made executive established
and president because he favored having a king. But as


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Gu}f of

NOTE According to Treaty of Versailles. June 1919, the Sarre Basin becomes
International territory for a period of 15 Yeats, Coal Mines in ttiis territory^
are ceded to France. Plebiscite will determine Sovereignty.

Scale of Miles

9. FRANCE IN 1920




the months passed Thiers concluded tliat the best inter-
ests of France required tlie esta))lishment of a republic,
and so the majority in the Assembly displaced him, choos-
ing? now Marshal MacMahon as president, since they be-
lieved that he would willini^h' resign as soon as monarchy
could be reestablished. And perhaps it might have been
restored now, except that the monarchists were divided
in two parties, the Legitimists and those who supported
the House of Orleans, It was hoped that these two
branches of the Bourbon family could unite, but it proved
impossible to bring this about. Thus time drifted on,
with no permanent government established, and the people
showing more and more that they wished a republic.
After a while those who desired a monarchy, but be-
lieved it unwise to insist on their wishes, combined with
those who wanted a republic, and agreed upon a conserva-
tive arrangement. In 1875 a series of "organic laws"
in effect constituted a republican government, and are
often referred to as the Constitution of 1875. A republic
was not formally set up. It was, indeed, merely recognized
in the phrase "President of the Republic," in a proviso
which could only be carried by one vote in a chamber of
705. The French Republic has endured now consider-
ably longer than any government in France since 1789, but
it was established unwillingly and with great hesitation,
and never formally proclaimed.

The government of the French Republic was based
on models which the English-speaking people had worked
out in the experience of a long time. In some respects
it resembles the American form, but substantially the
British system was followed. The executive power is
apparently vested in a president, who is elected for
seven years by the two chambers of the legislative bodj^
meeting together as a National Assembly. An outsider
might think that he really is head of the army and navy
and that he really administers the laws and appoints the

The mon-
archists fail
to combine

ment: the






The French

officials. But the power which seems to be in his hands
is not real like that of the president of the United States
nor that which was held by the German Kaiser. His
position is rather like that of the king of England, except
that he has more power. Actually, as in England, the
executive and administrative powers are in the hands of
the ministry. As in Great Britain, also, the ministry is
entirely dependent upon a majority in the Chambers, the
legislative body. It is in the legislative body, then, that
power actually lies.

The legislative is composed of two houses, a Senate and
a Chamber of Deputies. The Senate consists of 300 mem-
bers elected indirectly by electoral colleges for a term of
nine years, one third to be renewed every three years.
By the Constitution of 1875 some of the members were to be
elected for life, but this was done away with in 1884. The
more important house, however, is the Chamber of
Deputies, whose members are elected by manhood suf-
frage for a term of four years. The ministry is responsible
to this parliament, and practically to the lower branch,
the Chamber of Deputies, which is all-powerful in the
making of laws and passing appropriations. Actually, the
ministry is a committee of the Chamber, as the cabinet
in Britain is of the House of Commons.

This system of government, which makes France a
parliamentary republic, differs in one very important
respect from what is substantially the British system and
from what really prevails in the United States. In both
these countries, while there may be several political par-
ties, there have usually been two important parties, op-

Online LibraryEdward Raymond TurnerEurope since 1870 → online text (page 18 of 49)