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Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul.
( Flora a Drawing by I.. C. l>iivid.)











TIMES, FROM 1789 TO 1889.

Illitstralcd 'mUIi 32 /\>i /rails aiul a Map 0/ Paris.

chicago and new york:
.Rand, McNally & Company, Publishers







CorYKiGHT 1889, BY Rand, McNally & Co., Chicago.


I. The REVoi.uTinN and thk First Rept-bmc II

n. The Consulate and the First Eiipiiys c;

III. The Restoration of Monarchy 1 l.'i

IV. The OrleanVst Monarchy V>2

V. The Second RBPrsLic ^., Kiii

VI. The Second Empire i.M,-

VII. The Third Repvbi.ic ■.'.':'

VIII. cnxcLfsiox .1^.:..?:\ , .;.


I. Coiistituti.mof irm ■.:

n. Constitution of 1793 305

in. Constitution of 1795 -n:.

lA'. Constitution of 1799. 1.'>I

V. Constitutional Cliarttn- of in I J •'id:!

VI Ailditional Act of 1815 -ililt

VII. Constitutional Charter of 1830 377

VIII. Couslitution of 1S4S. 3S.!

IX. Constitution of 1853 307

X. Con.stitutional Laws of 1875 4a3



The author of tliis essay has made some attempt
briefly to outline the intellectual, social, ami political
causes which led to the changes in the form of govern-
ment of France, and at the same time to sketch the
salient features of her organic law.

Parliamentary governments, like that of Great Britain,
and presidential systems, similar to that of the United
States, have been compared to the parliamentary Repub-
lic of P' ranee.

Such an extended period of French history has been
dealt with that it has only been possible to accord a brief
consideration to the many questions of Constitution-
alism, which would, under other circumstances, have
received a closer analysis than the cursory one which the
author has made. However, it was intended to produce
a general commentary and criticism, and reference is
therefore invited to the Constitutional laws which have
been translated and placed in the appendix of this work,
in support of the positions assumed.

Although the Constitutional life of France lies within
the period treated in this essay, still it is true that as
early as the time that immediately followed the Middle
Ages, society revived and secured popular franchises from
the Crown and the nobles. These historic facts disclose
the very germs of Constitutional law.

In 1302, Philip the Fair summoned the tiers i'tat, being
delegates from the towns, to meet the nobles ami prelates


in Notre-Dame. This meeting constituted tlie first con-
vention of the States-general. In 1355 the three estates
deliberated together again, and in 1484 the States-general
was convoked, in order to ensure a National representa-
tion. In Languedoc, Burgundy, Provence, and Brittany,
and other provinces, or pays d'etats, the estates retained
their ancient Constitutions.

Subsequently the parliaments, which possessed legis-
lative, political, and administrative, as well as judicial
power, were a further check upon the prerogative of the
King. The parliaments of Paris and the provincial par-
liaments displayed a spirit of independence until they
were abolished by Louis XV. Many of these tribunals
had already been overcome by Richelieu and Louis XIV.

It has been assumed by some publicists that France
had a Constitution prior to 1789. The institutions
referred to by these writers were largely subject to the
relative cruelty or goodness of kings, of ministers, of
bishops, and of lords; a mixture of old laws and barbar-
ous customs. Maxims of public law and precepts of pri-
vate rights marched side by side in the confusion. The
contradictory systems with which the earlier part of the
eighteenth century was filled, precluded the diffusion of
reform principles, responding to the great social needs
of that time, and, when placed in the light of the Revo-
lution, became the point of departure of the modern law.

Many extravagant estimates of the number of Constitu-
tions under which the French people have lived since
1789 have been made. This number will be materially
reduced when it is remembered that the Constitution of
1793 was suppressed a short time after its adoption, by
the revolutionary government; that of 1815 never went
into practical operation; that of 1830 was only the char-
ter of 1814, with slight amendments; that of 1852 was


substantially a reproduction of the Constitution of the
year VIII, and the Constitutional laws which now govern
France were never adopted by a constituent assembly.

The senahis consult inn of the i6th Thcnnidor, year X,
creating the consulship for life; of the 28th Floreal, year
XII, making Napoleon I. Emperor; and of August 19,
1807, suppressing the Tribunate, were but modifications
of Napoleon's Constitution of 22d Frimaire, year VIII.

Napoleon III. governed France for seventeen years by
virtue of his Constitution of January 14, 1852, as modified
by the senatiis consultiim of November 7, which estab-
lished the hereditary empire; of December 25, 1852, which
completed the imperial structure; of November 24, i860,
which permitted the Senate and Legislative Body to reply
by the "Address" to the Crown's message; of January
19, 1867, which acknowledged the right of interpellation;
of September 8, 1869, declaring the ministers responsible;
and of April 23, 1870, claiming to enact a new Constitu-
tion, and to assure the future of the Napoleonic dynasty.

The Constitutions which are set forth in the appendix
of this book were translated from the text as published
in the " Histoire Constitutionnelle des Franqais. Textes
et Commentaires," par F, E. Planteau, translator for the
Court of Appeal in Paris. In making the translation of
the Constitutions of 1793, 1795, and 1799, the author was
assisted by the work of Bernard Roelker on " The Consti-
tutions of France," as he was also largely aided by the
translations of the Constitutions of 1814, 1830, 1848, and
1852, made by Francis Lieber, LL.D., in hie work on
"Civil Liberty."

Scarcely a page of this book could have been written
without reference to the following works, among others,
which have been consulted, quoted, or mentioned, and
from whose pages expressions, and even sentences, have


been made use of by the author. The works referred to
are: The works of Thiers, Taine, .Lamartine, Blanc,
Mignet, Capefigue, Michelet, Guizot, Morley, Scherer,
Lockroy, Hugo, De Tocqueville, and Sir Erskine May.
" Histoire de la Civilisation Contemporaine en France,"
par Alfred Rambaud;"La France dii Centenaire," par
Edouard Goumy; "Journal Officiel;" " Les Constitutions
de la France," par Faustin Helie; " Les Orateurs de la
Constituante, de la .Legislative, de la Convention," par
Aulard; " Histoire Parlementaire de la Revolution," par
Buchez et Roux; " La France en 1789," par Pezard; "Le
Centenaire de 1789," par E. D'Argill; "The Code Napo-
leon;" " Les Constitutions Europeennes," par Demom-
lynes; "Les Constitutions Fran(,-aises," par Plouard;
"La Constitution Frangaise de 1875," par M. M. Bard
et Robiquet; "Codes et Lois," par Roger et Sorel;
" Droit Administratif," par Aucoc, and " Etudes Admin-
istratives," par Vivien.

In the preparation of Chapters V, VI, and VH, the
author has, in his statement of the historic facts, drawn
freely from the work of M. Planteau, but in such a man-
ner as not to make that writer in any way responsible for
the opinions of others that may have been added, or for
the arguments or reflections that are expressed in that
portion of this work.

On September 22, 1889, the quadrennial elections for
deputies took place, under the provisions of the law of
July 17, and resulted in a victory for the Government.
The re-balloting which occurred October 6 further
strengthened the party that favors the continuance of the
Parliamentary Republic.



Wheaever an advance in governmental evolution has
been suggested, or advocated, by great parties springing
from the people, the events of French history, from the
time of the encyclopedists to the present day, have
generally been distorted by the reactionary forces which
usually constitute the opposition to reform; and when, in
the last loo years, it was proposed to do away with
the remnants of feudalism, abolish slavery, extend the
popular suffrage, and establish parliamentary government,
by some strange paradox in reasoning, the experiences and
struggles of this brave people, in their march from abso-
lutism to democracy, have been paraded as furnishing a
dreadful example against any attempt for the betterment
of mankind.

When it was suggested in England to abolish the slave
trade, and repeal the Test Act, ghastly references were
made to noyades, fusillades, and guillotines; and Sir
Robert Peel was warned, in his effort to reform the corn
laws, that he was bringing about a catastrophe like that of
1789, while Cobden and Bright were likened to Baboeuf,



Chaumette, and Anacharsis Clootz. Robespierre, Dan-
ton, and Marat were trotted forth in their sanguinary
winding-sheets, and treated as the counterparts and pre-
cursors of "modern worthies," and an innocent meeting
of voters has recalled to some well-known writers lurid
visions of the Cordeliers and Jacobin Clubs.

Mr. John Morley has been described as the Saint Just
of the English revolution of the present day. " It
would have been just as well," says Morley, " to call me
Nero, Torquemada, lago, or Bluebeard." The course pur-
sued toward this publicist illustrates the general treat-
ment of French politics and governmental reform by
the English-speaking people. The idea underlying what
is known as conservative thought is, that if the French had
never had a revolution of their own, and had never been
compelled to resort to extreme measures to overthrow
bad government in their country, that good government
would have grown faster in the rest of the world.

Nothing could be a greater perversion of fact than this
position, which has been assumed by so many influential
writers and prominent political leaders, for a careful
examination of historic facts will show that the effect, of
the French Revolution was most beneficial upon the
structural mechanism of the governments of the world.

It is perfectly true that there is a continuity in history;
that it is quite impossible to comprehend the affairs of
one country in their general form without knowing the
historic facts which precede them; that history opens the
mind to generous impulses, quickens the political imagi-
nation, instructs the mass in the experiences of govern-
ment, allows the thinker to make analogies, and, in fine,
to profit by that force which lies back of the growth and
development in government. This force, however, must-
be treated in its general spirit and essence, and, above all.

one nuisl be careful to avoid strained comparisons and
unnatural attempts to bring dissimilar events into juxta-
position. If the greatest care is not practiced, positions
will be assumed that are both fictitious and unreal, and
precedent, which is ever sought for by the human mind,
will be used to forge new chains for humanity.

Beyond doubt, as a philosophical abstraction, it is
true that the Cromwellian hastened the American, and
the American the French Revolution; still, the environ-
ments of these three epochs are quite dissimilar, and can
not strictly be compared with each other. It would be
unscientific to claim that there was a semblance between
Cromwell and Washington. Such an attempt would
possibly result in a straining after an antithesis for liter-
ary e'ffect.

The practical question is: What influence have the
events of French history exerted, for the last loo years,
upon the people of the world, as manifested through
their governments? If a general lesson is given to the
world by this nation, what is it? To examine this
question properly, it will be necessary to discover what
the French people have done in the development of con-
stitutional and statute law.

Italy, Switzerland, and the Netherlands had made
rapid strides in the art of self-government before democ-
racy had taken any outward form in France, but after it
had been once organized and put in action in that
country, its movement was most rapid and vigorous; it
was necessary for it to be vigorous, for it was compelled
to meet a condition of things created by one of the most
infamous of all S3^stems of absolutism, and rapid because
it assumed the form of revolution. Reform, which is
slow revolution, would not suit the conditions; only active,
merciless revolution could strike the blow that was


required to clean the Augean stables. There is no
nistory which so brilliantly illustrates the social and
political causes which led to democracy; none which
exemplifies its force, power, and efficiency so thoroughly
as the experiences of the French people in the last loo

To comprehend the condition of things that immedi-
ately preceded the eventful revolution which occurred in
France, it must be remembered that a combination

f between State and Church existed there for the purpose
of enslaving the people tlirough feudal laws, ignorance,
suppression of personal rights, taxation, and every device
that could be suggested by priest or courtier. If a
parliament, or a semblance of one, as in 1771, showed
-s^ any signs of independence, as it did at this time, it was
abolished by Louis XV.

Louis XIV. silenced his parliament by the creation of
litsde Justice; \{ \\\?, subjects — and citizens were then
J^ called subjects — raised their voices in remonstrance, they
were imprisoned by Iciires de cachet; if they were offen-
sive, they were banished by lettrcs d'exil. The Edict of
Nantes was revoked. The conseil du Roi assumed and
exercised all administrative,legislative, and judicial power.
A condition of personal power existed known only to a
system of most pronounced and complete absolutism. J

Whatever truth there is in the saying that Paris is,
France — one of the favorite aphorisms of English-speak-
ing people — it is certainly true that at one time the
votaries of monarchy did much to give that great city an
undue political influence. One would think, from the
usual way of discussing French affairs, that all the so-called
socialists, red republicans, atheists, revolutionists, prole-
tariats, and the offscourings of creation had come to Paris
for the purpose of destroying the pure-lived priests and


nobles, overthrowing the best government the world had
ever been blessed with, and thus giving a check, in the
name of liberty, to actual liberty among all nations.

The fact is, that [the population which eventually con- y
stituted the revolutionary class was brought to the city
of Paris by monarchy itself. It was once the policy of
State to make Paris the center of art, literature, and
particularly of manufactures.J It was quite impossible
successfully to carry on manufacturing interests outside
of Paris. The consequence was that vast numbers of
skilled workmen concentrated in that city.

But it was not only these classes that sought the capi- ^
tal, for it became fashionable for country gentlemen to
abandon their positions as magistrates at home, and in
many cases princes in power repaired to Paris and
became little less than servants to the king, while they
abandoned their estates to decay, and to the ravages of
the usurer. Then, suicidal as t his policy w as, they also^
consented thatthe peasantryTje taxed and robbed by
^JEurcn and atateToF dragged from th eir homes inv olun-
ta n^ly to serve in the army of nav y. The natural con-
sequence of this condition of things was that the healthy
middle and agricultural class was destroyed. At last
famine stalked abroad, forcing men to become robbers,
poachers, and"thieves.~

"Practl caTly thefe could be no appe al to the fu nda-
men tarTaw, for the gene raTTaw took it"i" rise inlh e^will
an3^urpose of the sovereign, and there could be
n o enforce ment ot p ersonal rights iii TRe courts.
Under such circumstances it is no wonder that The
people's minds turned to thoughts of violent inter- ^^^
ference with such a travesty of justice, even though •
masked under all the solemn forms of judicial


This condition of things produced a class of reformers
and theorists. They were thoroughly iconoclastic in
their antagonism to the religious and political systems
of that day. They were so regarded. They existed by
sufferance— hanging on the verge of society, at times;
then driven into exile, and from country to country,
suffering obloquy and imprisonment.

Voltaire, who stood foremost in the rank of the
destroyers of everything that belonged to the past,
scoffed at the priests, whom he regarded as the enemies
of mankind, and hurled his cynical invective at theology.
In this crusade he employed verse and prose, tragedy and
burlesque, history and fiction. Restless activity and
versatility, untiring vivacity of wit and humor, with felic-
ity of style, characterized his work. Love of labor led
him to produce a vast variety of voluminous works.
His correspondence alone, including letters from
d'Alembert, and Frederick of Prussia, constitutes fifteen
volumes. He produced the " Philosophical Dictionary,"
and contributed largely to the " Encyclopedic," in which he
advocated common sense and humanity. Although
Voltaire showed much indulgence to kings, and even to
the Church, still his writings undoubtedly contributed to
the revolution which followed.

Rousseau was more original than Voltaire in his
methods, and all his .writings were revolutionary in their
essence and character. He wrote to illustrate his favorite
theory of the superiority of the savage state. His
"La Nouvelle H61oise " and " Emile " were condemned;
still,^it was the "Contrat Social," which appeared
in 1762, that did more to hasten the great Revolution
than any other work of one man. The " Contrat
Social " .bases all government on the consent, direct or
implied, of the governed. It was thoroughly anti-


monarchical] and Rousseau, therefore, was compelled to
flee from France to the territory of Berne, thence to
Moitiers, in Neuchatel, when it belonged to Prussia.
He then migrated to the He St. Pierre, in the Lake of
Bienne; the Bernese government ordered him to quit the
territory. David Hume offered him an asylum in England,
but he went back to Paris and became a wanderer, and,
at last, returned to copy music for support. Such was,
in brief, the life that was sacrificed for the idea that all
government should exist by the consent of the governed.

Diderot conceived the stupendous design of the " Ency-
clop^die." He was a writer on physics, geometry, meta-
physics, ethics, and belles-lettres. He was assisted in this
work by many others. He compiled a description of the
arts and trades, and aimed to make his work a compre-
hensive review of all human knowledge. But he passed
his life under suspicion of king, noble, and priest. He was
ill paid, and if it had not been for the kind offices of the
Empress of Russia, he would have lost the few books he
had collected. He was openly charged with atheistical
and anarchical designs. Still, this work of his life let in
a light upon the minds of the masses, showed tltem the
power of knowledge, and taught them the doctrine of
humanity. Whatever may have been his intention, the
result of his labor was an incentive to the great revolu-
tions that followed. Philosophers and men of letters
increased on every side, and the new intellectual move-
ment even reached the lower classes. The Church
s tubbornly fought these movements, and, so far as in its
power, repre ssed public opmion.

Of this group of thinkers and heralds of '89, none is
more illustrious than the Marquis d'Argenson. His
great work consists of his " Reflections on the Government
of France." (Within its pages may be found the germ



of the democracy which has again and again asserted
itself m France;. the basis of the local administrations;
the system of departments which replace the ancient
provinces; the repudiation of the privileges of nobility;
the condemnation of local restrictions in trade; "and the
dream of a new France, where personal equality should
reign, and where the cultivator of the soil should be lord
of the land he tilled." A statement of the reforms which
Turgot advocated, from the time he "was appointed
intendant of Limoges, in 1761, until the fall of Necker's
ministry, in 1781, embodies most of the practical results
of the Revolution.

" To recall Turgot," says Frederic Harrison, " is to
recall Condorcet, the equal of Turgot as thinker, if
inferior to Turgot as statesman. Around the mind
and nature of Condorcet there lingers a halo of a
special grace. Sprung from an old baronial family, with
bigoted prejudices of feudal right, the young noble, from
his youth, broke through the opposition of his order to
devote himself to a life of thought. He who would under-
stand what men mean by the ideas of '89, should mark,
learn, and inwardly digest those two small books of Con-
dorcet, 'The Life. of Turgot,' 1787, and ' The Historical
Sketch of the Progress of the Human Mind,' 1795."

On the accession of Louis XVL to the throne, in 1774,
he found the people already turbulent and discontented.
The King/

Online LibraryHenry C LockwoodConstitutional history of France → online text (page 1 of 33)