There is no longer any government,” I added; “my friends and I are on the way to constitute one at the Hotel de Ville.”
Continuing Third French Republic Established,
our selection from Government of the National Defense by Jules Favre published in 1875. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. The selection is presented in four easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Third French Republic Established
The Journal Oﬁiciel declares that “at half-past two the Chamber was invaded by the crowd stationed on the Place de la
At this moment the Minister of War, who had several times appeared and disappeared, left the hall. The published account thus describes the end of the sitting:
“President Schneider said: ‘Deliberation under such circumstances is impossible. I declare the sitting at an end.’
“A large number of National Guards, in uniform or without it, and bearing arms, entered the halls by the anterooms and also by the gates of the Amphitheatre. A tumultuous crowd rushed in at the same moment, occupied all the benches, ﬁlled all the aisles, and descended into the semicircle, surrounding the secretaries’ table as well as the reporters’ desks, exclaiming, ‘Dethronement! Dethronement!’ ‘Viva la Republique! ’ President Schneider left the chair, walked slowly down the staircase on the left of the bureau, and quitted the hall. It was then a few minutes past three o’clock.”
I was not present at the scenes just described. Shortly afterward I entered the hall and hastened to the tribune, to beg the crowd to retire. The tumult was at its height and I was powerless to quell it, when, turning toward that side by which, unknown to me, M. Schneider had left, I saw the disheveled heads of two men, who were evidently in the highest state of excitement. One of them was ringing the bell loudly, and appeared to be preparing to propose some decree. The recollection of May 15th ﬂashed upon my mind. I recalled that Barbes had made the mob vote foolish measures. I did not hesitate; and, feeling the full import of the step I was about to take, I succeeded in making a few words audible in the midst of this tempest. As there was a demand on all sides that I should proclaim the Republic, I said: “Such a proclamation must not be made here, but at the Hotel de Ville. Follow me; I will go thither at your head.” This course, which had suddenly occurred to me, had the advantage of freeing the Chamber, of preventing a sanguinary conﬂict within its walls, and of preventing an attack that would have rendered a violent faction master of the movement. It is true we exposed ourselves thereby to the peril of a march through the disturbed city. I was utterly ignorant of the state of affairs in the streets; but there was no time to hesitate. My proposal was received with acclamation, and I left the tribune in the midst of the cries of “To the Hotel de Ville!” At the door that leads into the gallery of Pas-perdus I was surrounded by several of my colleagues, among whom were M. Emile de Kératry and M. Jules Ferry. They came to my side, and we set off.
When we reached the Quay, I soon perceived that the crowd marching behind me had nothing to fear. The steps in front of the Palais Bourbon were covered with citizens and National Guards, who hailed us enthusiastically. A similar gathering awaited us on the steps of the Church of the Madeleine. The Pont de la Concorde and the Place de la Concorde resounded with shouts of sympathy. We proceeded slowly, exchanging tokens of sympathy with persons of all ages who crowded toward us. It was with difﬁculty that the National Guards could clear the way before us.
At the end of the bridge arose a formidable cry: “To the Tuileries!” We made an energetic signal for the crowd to pass along the quays, and it obeyed. We had just passed the Solerino Gate, when among the throng I saw General Trochu coming toward us, followed by his lieutenant-major. Our line halted instantly. I made my way through the crowd, and holding out my hand to the General explained in a few words the events of the day. “There is no longer any government,” I added; “my friends and I are on the way to constitute one at the Hotel de Ville; we beg you to return to your part of the town, and there to await our communications.” The General offered no objection, and galloped off toward the Louvre.
The clock indicated ﬁve minutes to four when we arrived at the Place de la Gréve. There the crowd was dense. A long stream of people had made their way along the left bank of the river, and were prepared to cross the Pont d’Arcole to join us. We were carried, rather than pressed, into the large hall of the Hotel de Ville. It was full to overﬂowing; nevertheless they made way for us to the benches at the farther end. I spoke a few words, which were received with the cry of “Viva la Republique!” This was in reality the overmastering desire of the excited populace, and it included the fall of the Empire and resistance to the foe. On these two points all were agreed — “the Republic” was the formula representing the country and liberty.
While I was speaking, my colleagues, MM. Picard, Gam betta, Simon, Pelletan, and Emmanuel Arago, had arrived; M. Crémieux soon followed; a large number of deputies accompanied them. It was necessary to deliberate, and to that end we had to escape from the frightful tumult in the large hall. We found an entrance into a small committee-room, lighted by a wide window; it was soon ﬁlled by the crowd, but we secured a table and chairs. We immediately agreed to form a government, with the cooperation of the Paris deputies and those who had been elected; it was the only means to cut short the discussions between the leaders of different parties. Violent speeches were addressed to M. Gambetta, who had energetically opposed the name of M. Felix Pyat; but, for the same reason, it was impossible not to admit that of M. de Rochefort.
We were just installed. A message had been sent to General Trochu, who had had some difficulty in reaching us. He had laid aside his uniform, but he came to place himself at our disposal. His language was clear and ﬁrm.
“I beg of you,” said he, “permission to place a preliminary question before you: Will you protect the three institutions— Religion, the Family, and Property — in promising me that nothing shall be done in opposition to their interests?”
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