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The French RepublicHistory, Values, Debates$
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Edward Ducler Berenson, Vincent Duclert, and Christophe Prochasson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449017

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449017.001.0001

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The Second Republic

The Second Republic

(p.27) 3 The Second Republic
The French Republic

Edward Berenson

Cornell University Press

This chapter is an overview of the short-lived Second Republic. Historians had previously treated France's shortest republic as something of an embarrassment, lamenting that the Revolution of 1848 and its aftermath marked a “turning point that didn't turn”—an episode that revealed the French people's inability, at midcentury, to govern themselves. Views such as these held sway until the 1970s, when a new generation of historians rejected this bleak view of the Second Republic. Rather than representing the failure of democracy and socialism, 1848 and its aftermath now became “the apprenticeship of the Republic.” From here, the chapter begins an account of the Second Republic's turbulent history, noting that its brief four-year existence is emblematic of France's political volatility in the nineteenth century.

Keywords:   Second Republic, 1848 Revolution, democracy, socialism, nineteenth century

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