The Third French Republic Essay

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The Third French Republic

Defeat on the Franco-Prussian War signalled the end of the Second French Empire. With Napoleon III abdication following the battle of Sedan, France’s political future was a little unstable, as napoleon III ad left no clear successor.

The Third French Republic was declared by the National Assembly and led by Adolphe Theirs. However at the time of its proclamation it had no legal backing and as a subsequent election showed the majority of Frenchmen favoured a restoration of the monarchy, but as loyalties were divided between three rival candidates, the republican government came to be seen as the form of government that “divided Frenchmen least”.

One of the
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He gained much popularity and support by his rousing speeches against Bismarck’s Germany. However more moderate members of government were afraid that his speeches would provoke them into a war with Germany and so demoted him to a provincial office. This move caused him to gain an even greater following as he became a ‘darling of the discontented’. He was persuaded to stand for election in Paris and won an overwhelming majority. From this his supporters urged to stage a coup d’etat, but his nerve failed him at the last moment and he fled to Belgium where he committed suicide two years later. The importance of this movement does not however lie in the man of his actions, but in the support it attracted and the desperate need among the French people for a strong political figure and the danger it posed to the Third Republic.

The Panama Scandal was a new example of the political corruption of the Third Republic. Its origins lay with Ferdinand de Lesseps and his attempt to repeat the success of the Suez Canal with the Panama Canal. The project attracted the interest of thousands of French investors and construction began in 1881. Difficulties were encountered immediately with miles of rock, and yellow fever claiming the lives of thousands of canal workers. Politicians and

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