Triumph of a New Napoleon:
January 14, 1852
This text comes from our book, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern World. See sample chapters, here. For ordering information on Light to the Nations II and our other texts, please click here. See other posts on the 1848 revolution in France.
The revolutions of 1848–1849 ended in disappointment for Liberals and nationalists. Everywhere—in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, and Italy—the forces of the old political order had triumphed. Republicans and radicals had been dispersed. The cause of Liberalism, it appeared, had again gone down in defeat.
But the defeat of Liberalism was only an appearance. The ancient regime had triumphed in most places, but its victory could not last. In the coming years, rulers would find it necessary to at least pretend they supported such Liberal reforms as equality, parliaments, constitutions, and even democracy. Some rulers would grant reforms out of fear, but others would eagerly support them; for, rulers came to realize, the surest way to gain and keep power was winning the support of the masses of the people. (more…)