[1848] - Second Republic proclaimed in France

In February 1848 a popular uprising in Paris led to the overthrow of Louis-Philippe, who had been king of France since the revolution against the Bourbon monarchy in July 1830. In the summer of 1847 a series of banquets had been hosted by opposition groups in order to circumvent the prohibitions on political gatherings and demonstrations. Conceived as a forum to express criticism of Louis-Philippe’s regime, the banquets were held amidst severe economic depression and mass unemployment throughout France. When the king moved to outlaw the banquets in 1848, a popular uprising began on 22 February. The following day the Prime Minister, François Pierre Guizot, resigned. This was followed by a confrontation between demonstrators and soldiers outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Amidst the confusion, a soldier accidentally fired into the crowd, at which point his colleagues began firing too. Fifty-two people were killed and, as a result, Paris descended into civil war. The king subsequently abdicated and fled to England, and the Second Republic was established on 26 February. As the provisional government sought to deal with France’s economic problems, the conservative opposition to the new regime developed momentum. The elections of 23 April further strengthened their position as they came to dominate the government.

On 21 June the decision was taken, however, to close the National Workshops. Consequently, the citizens of Paris took to the streets and erected barricades. In response, the government appointed General Louis Eugène Cavaignac to suppress the rebellion. Subsequently known as the June Days uprising, Cavaignac’s forces attacked the positions of the revolutionary citizens from 23 to 26 June. Finally, Cavaignac suppressed the uprising, but only after his army was reinforced with around 70,000 extra men. He was appointed as the head of state on 28 June.

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