Feminist Activism during the Revolutionary Upheavals of 1848-1851
On February 24, 1848, following two days of demonstrations and street fighting, Louis-Philippe abdicated in favor of his grandson. This act, however, did not satisfy the demonstrators, who forced the Chamber of Deputies to yield control of the state to a group of moderate republicans and democratic socialists who formed a provisional government. The Republic was proclaimed.
The Republic was to be democratic. Earlier, the monarchy had refused to bend to demands to increase the size of the electorate and thus had sparked a campaign for electoral reform, which in turn had triggered the revolution. The most democratic of the reformers had won: one of the provisional government's first actions was to declare universal male suffrage and set an April date for national elections to a constitutional convention or "Constituent National Assembly."
A minority of the new government wanted the Republic to be "social" as well as democratic, that is, responsible to the needs of the poorer classes. 1 Economic crisis had undermined the legitimacy of the constitutional monarchy and prepared the way for revolution. The worst years of the depression were 1846 and 1847, but even though the economy was improving in 1848, unemployment was still high. Working-class demands that the government solve the unemployment problem had gained backers in the provisional government. In deference to the democratic socialists among them, the government reduced daily working hours, proclaimed the right to work, and established a commission to study the unemployment
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Publication information: Book title: French Feminism in the Nineteenth Century. Contributors: Claire Goldberg Moses - Author. Publisher: State University of New York Press. Place of publication: Albany, NY. Publication year: 1984. Page number: 127.
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