The Retrospect of Radical Republicanism: Le Père Duchêne of 1848 and the Revolutionary Past

by Jeroen van Raalte

Institution: Leiden University
Year: 2015
Keywords: France; radical republicanism; Revolution of 1848; historical memory
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2064836
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/35451


By reintroducing the republic as the form of state, the French Revolution of 1848 also revived memories both joyful and terrifying of the First Republic (1792-1799). Despite its troublesome connotations, radical republicans enthusiastically seized upon the heritage of the Jacobin regime. Through a case study of the newspaper Le Père Duchêne. Gazette de la Révolution, this thesis studies the relationship of these radicals with the revolutionary past. Its findings suggest that the latter had three functions in radical republican discourse. First, given that Le Père Duchêne extensively invoked Jacobin ideology, rhetoric and symbolism, the past constituted a source of inspiration. Secondly, by proclaiming itself as heir to Robespierre and the likes, Le Père Duchêne deployed the past as a means of legitimacy. Since the traumatic memory of the Jacobin Reign of Terror seriously undermined the latter, the journal rewrote the narrative of the guillotine, presenting it as the necessary outcome of circumstances created by the adversaries of the Jacobins: the Gironde. Finally, it used this altered image of the past as an analogical frame projected onto the present. By equating the acts of contemporary moderates with the Girondists’ purported treason in the past, Le Père Duchêne understood 1848 as the continuation and eventually culmination of the very same strife between malevolent bourgeois reaction and virtuous popular republicanism. Advisors/Committee Members: Storm, Eric (advisor).