The possession of the supreme power seemed to the Cabinet a necessity from which escape was impossible.
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.
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September 4th, which dawned warm and bright like a fete day, drew the population of Paris from their dwellings to enjoy the brilliant sunshine. All was calm during the early part of the day, and the appearance of the city was the same as usual. The approaches to the Corps Législatif, as well as the courtyard of the Hotel de Ville, were ﬁlled with troops. In the Palace of Industry six hundred mounted gendarmes stood ready for an emergency. No announcement was made of the resolution the Cabinet had been obliged to take, and to this hour I do not know by what means it came to consider our proposition (continually ignored since August 9th) for the nomination of a commission invested with authority from the Government; the only addition it made was the dictatorship of M. de Palikao, under the form of a general lieutenaney. This tardy and ridiculous idea could not be received; it had no longer in its favor even the majority, which had at last opened its eyes and recognized, when too late, the duty it had refused to perform.
The possession of the supreme power seemed to the Cabinet a necessity from which escape was impossible. Nevertheless it hesitated, through an honorable scruple, which several of its members had explained to us at different times before we laid down our proposition. It did not consider itself freed from its oath, and repudiated the idea of voting for the dethronement. It feared to imitate the Senate of the First Empire, lest it should be rejected in a similar manner. It therefore sought a formula that should allow the thing to be done without pronouncing the word. The deputies tried different forms, after which they entered into negotiations with us. They begged us to abandon that expression in our proposition which wounded their consciences. We wished for nothing more than to smooth all difficulties, provided only that the necessary steps were promptly taken. It appeared to us to be of the ﬁrst importance to decide upon the course necessary to pursue, and to make known our intentions to the populace. Knowing well the excitement and indignation we might expect to arouse, we were ready to renounce the motion for dethronement if it could be made known that it had been virtually accepted.
After a lively discussion, we agreed upon this form, which seemed to conciliate all parties: “Considering the vacancy.” This was the most attenuated expression of the idea that was indispensable to be made known. The paper was covered with signatures. We entered the Chamber, where probably the proposed form would have been accepted unanimously, when several members of the majority, regretting their consent, withdrew, with their colleagues, to the Salon de la Paix, where they had just been consulting. They then substituted for the words “Considering the vacancy” these: “Considering the circumstances” which had no meaning. We could not admit them; it was agreed that each should make his own proposition; and President Schneider took the chair. It was a quarter past one.
In the ninth bureau, in which I was, the discussion at once turned upon M. Thiers’s proposition, and that of the Left. Those among my honored colleagues who opposed dethronement repeated the laudable sentiments which I have already mentioned, though they appeared to me to arise from a mistaken view of their duties. This I endeavored to show, and the discussion, though lively, was being conducted with order, when a loud noise was heard in the courtyard outside the room in which we were deliberating. My friend M. de Pelletan, who had left the room to ascertain the cause, returned in a state of agitation, blaming the officers that had given the order for preparing arms and directing them against the crowd that surrounded the palace. Soon afterward we beheld the soldiers that were placed against the windows form in line to protect the entrances. Distant clamors reached us. A deputy entered hastily to inform us that the Chamber was invaded by the populace.
I refused at ﬁrst to believe it, as I had observed no premonitory sign of such an event. We all quitted the room precipitately. The antechambers were ﬁlled with the mob, who appeared more embarrassed than enraged; nevertheless, some individuals, accosting me, demanded the fall of the Government. “We are aiming at that,” I replied, “but you will not help us by interrupting us violently in our deliberations.” I begged them earnestly to depart and to leave us to vote freely. I promised them that their desires should be accomplished. It was difficult to carry on a conversation in the midst of the tumult. I hastened to the sitting.
Concorde and in front of the Palais Bourbon; that, rushing through the anterooms and stairways, it was precipitated into the public galleries, raising the cry ‘Dethronement!’ joined with cries of ‘Viva la France!’ ‘Viva la Republigue! ’
”The tribune was vacant for some minutes, when M. Gam betta appeared. “Citizens,” said he, “it is necessary that all the deputies present in the anterooms and leaving their bureaus (where they have been deliberating upon the question of the dethronement) should be at their posts to pronounce it.
The applause following this address was soon followed by a tremendous noise. The doors of the hall gave way to the pressure of the crowd, which had penetrated tumultuously into the interior. M. de Piré wished to ascend the tribune; many of his colleagues attempted to restrain him. He yielded to them, but cried: “I had a duty to fulfil; I desired to protest against the present proceedings.”
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