Coup d'Etat of 1852

Louie Napoleon and the Coup d’Etat of 1852

Matthew Durghali

During November of 1848, a new constitution was written up for France which declared the following new laws: 1.) There will be only one house Legislative Assembly, and that all members of the Assembly are to be voted in by universal male suffrage for a three-year term; 2.) the President of France will also be voted in by the same suffrage for a four-year term; and 3.) the President of France can not be re-elected.

On December 10th of 1848, Charles Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, the nephew of Napoleon I, president of the Second Republic of France (1850–1852), and then emperor of the French (1852–1870), was elected the new President of France, the first under the new constitution, with a landslide victory. He defeated bith Cavaignac and Ledru-Rollin. His term was set to end on the second Sunday in the month of May, 1852. However, the day this date, Napoleon was still the President because of a coup d’etat that he played out. The following are some of the events that took place governmentally in France that affected Louis Napoleon to coup the most.

On May 28th, 1849, a convening of Legislative Assembly took place. There were gains for both the monarchist right (500), and gains for the radical left (200), the moderates, however, were almost entirely wiped out (80). On November 1st, 1849, Louis Napoleon dismisses the Barrot ministry. He appoints a new ministry immediately. There are no Assembly members, and there is no prime minister.

The next year, On March 10th, 1850, elections are held to replace the deputies condemned after walking out of Assembly over the bombardment of republican Rome by French troops on June 13th, 1849. More than two-thirds of the empty seats are won back by the left.

On July 19th, 1851, a bill is written which is to revise the constitution to allow the president of France, and specifically Louis Napoleon, to be re-elected as the President of France. It is voted on in Legislative Assembly. The bill receives the majority, but not two-thirds, which is what is required by the constitution for a revision.

It is later on in the year 1851, on December 2nd, that Louis Napoleon plays out his Coup d’Etat. He chose the anniversary of the Battle of Austerlitz. (This is Napoleon I’s victory over Austria and Russia in 1805.) Louis then proceeds to dismiss the Assembly, and then restores universal male suffrage (which he had previously repealed). He also appeals to the people of France to endorse him for a ten-year term as their President.

Just two days after Louis’ coup, a sporadic Bourgeois republican resistance rises up to attempt their own coup, but is crushed immediately. Later on that month, Louis Napoleon confiscates all of Louis-Philippe’s land holdings and grants it to his followers and cronies.

A plebiscite is held almost exactly one year later, and officially makes Louis Napoleon the hereditary emperor.