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From Subject to Citizen

From Subject to Citizen: The Second Empire and the Emergence of Modern French Democracy

Sudhir Hazareesingh
Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 408
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zvj6c
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  • Book Info
    From Subject to Citizen
    Book Description:

    From Subject to Citizenoffers an original account of the Second Empire (1852-1870) as a turning point in modern French political culture: a period in which thinkers of all political persuasions combined forces to create the participatory democracy alive in France today. Here Sudhir Hazareesingh probes beyond well-known features of the Second Empire, its centralized government and authoritarianism, and reveals the political, social, and cultural advances that enabled publicists to engage an increasingly educated public on issues of political order and good citizenship. He portrays the 1860s in particular as a remarkably intellectual decade during which Bonapartists, legitimists, liberals, and republicans applied their ideologies to the pressing problem of decentralization. Ideals such as communal freedom and civic cohesion rapidly assumed concrete and lasting meaning for many French people as their country entered the age of nationalism.

    With the restoration of universal suffrage for men in 1851, constitutionalist political ideas and values could no longer be expressed within the narrow confines of the Parisian elite. Tracing these ideas through the books, pamphlets, articles, speeches, and memoirs of the period, Hazareesingh examines a discourse that connects the central state and local political life. In a striking reappraisal of the historical roots of current French democracy, he ultimately shows how the French constructed an ideal of citizenship that was "local in form but national in substance."

    Originally published in 1998.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6474-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. xi-2)
    S. H.
  5. Introduction DEMOCRACY AND CITIZENSHIP IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY FRENCH POLITICAL CULTURE
    (pp. 3-28)

    Attending to questions of origins is a natural part of the political and intellectual historian’s trade. In France, however, this is not a mere matter of abstract speculation: lineage is indeed regarded as a critical determinant of contemporary political identities. Hence the obsessive and often feverish controversies over the commemoration of past events. For the act of remembrance is rarely devoid of ideological connotations: in choosing to celebrate the French Revolution, the martyrdom of Joan of Arc, the baptism of Clovis, or the founding of the Capet monarchy, public authorities and political groups explicitly seek to appropriate a specific heritage,...

  6. Chapter 1 THE PARADOXES OF BONAPARTIST DEMOCRACY
    (pp. 29-95)

    As noted in the introduction, the Second Empire was long demonized in French republican historiography. Later generations of historians typically remembered the circumstances of the founding of the regime, the brutal and repressive nature of its authoritarian phase, the decadent frivolity of its court, and the humiliating defeat of French troops at Sedan.¹ Prefacing hisHistoire du Deuxième Empirein 1874, Charles Barthélémy commented that France had been governed by a “diseased dreamer”; the reign of Napoleon III had simply been “a lie that lasted eighteen years.”² Writing in 1886, Augustin Challamel summed up the Second Empire as the era...

  7. Chapter 2 TRADITION AND CHANGE: LEGITIMIST CONCEPTIONS OF DECENTRALIZATION
    (pp. 96-161)

    In a letter written to Alexis de Tocqueville in 1856, the legitimist Arthur de Gobineau was particularly scathing about his fellow countrymen. In his view, the French were “a people who, whether under a republic, a representative government, or an empire, always piously manifest an excessive enthusiasm for the intervention of the state in all its affairs.” He concluded: “Not only will such a people never possess free institutions, but it will never even apprehend what they are. In essence, it will always have the same government under different names.”¹

    No account of the intellectual opposition to centralization under the...

  8. Chapter 3 BETWEEN HOPE AND FEAR: THE LIMITS OF LIBERAL CONCEPTIONS OF DECENTRALIZATION
    (pp. 162-232)

    Traveling through provincial France in 1863, Hippolyte Taine mused that his countrymen seemed to have an inordinate capacity to suffer “without difficulty, and even willingly, being organized and regimented.”¹ He concluded despondently: “The state of France resembles a state of siege: at every instant the freedom of the individual is sacrificed to the state.”² Writing in theRevue des Deux Mondesone year later, Charles de Rémusat complained that “France is trapped in the tightly meshed nets of an administration that is accountable to no one.”³

    Opposition to political absolutism and administrative tyranny is the essential hallmark of liberal thinking,...

  9. Chapter 4 THE PATH BETWEEN JACOBINISM AND FEDERALISM: REPUBLICAN MUNICIPALISM
    (pp. 233-305)

    Republicanism has suffered least from the benign neglect that has afflicted the history of the Second Empire in modern times. In recent years a number of stimulating contributions have helped to deepen our understanding of the political and intellectual life of the republican movement in the nineteenth century, particularly during the 1850s and 1860s.¹

    Yet, granted that we now know a lot more about the history and even the symbolism of the republican tradition,² the richness of its ideology during this period remains surprisingly undervalued. Historians of modern French republicanism tend to divide the analysis of their subject between a...

  10. Conclusion THE SECOND EMPIRE AND THE EMERGENCE OF REPUBLICAN CITIZENSHIP
    (pp. 306-322)

    Three major problems dominated the politics of the late Second Empire: the question of regime transition and change, the place of religion in society, and the issues of territoriality and citizenship. Whereas the importance of the first two questions has been generally recognized, the third has been ignored or undervalued. This book has attempted to redress the balance in this respect and to point to the emergence of a vibrant democratic political culture in France before 1870. As Philip Nord has rightly noted, “The idea and even the practice of democratic citizenship were in place before a republican Third Republic...

  11. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 323-356)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 357-393)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 394-394)