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François Guizot (1787-1874): Condition of the July Monarchy, 1830-1848

Guizot was a French academic politician, who served Louis Philippe  as minister of public instruction (1832-37). He was the main  power after 1840 and became premier in 1847. His government was overthrown in Febrary 1848.

Speech of February 20, 1831

The Revolution destroyed the ancien régime but was unable to do more. The Empire arose to re-establish order, order of an exterior, material sort which was the basis of the civil society as the Revolution had founded it. The Empire spread this idea throughout all of Europe; this was its mission and it succeeded at it. It was incapable, however, of establishing a lasting political government; the necessary conditions were lacking. The Empire fell in its turn, to be succeeded by the Restoration. What did the Restoration promise? It promised to resolve the problem, to reconcile order with liberty. It was under this banner that the charter was granted. It had accepted principles of liberty in the charter; it had promised to establish them, but it made this promise under the cloak of the ancien régime, on which there had been written for so many centuries: Divine Right. It was unable to solve the problem. It died in the process, overwhelmed by the burden. It is on us, on the Revolution of July, that this job has been imposed; it is our duty and responsibility to establish definitively, not order alone, not liberty alone, but order and liberty at the same time. The general thought, the hope of France, has been order and liberty reuniting under the constitutional monarchy. There is the true promise of the Revolution of July.

Speech of October 5, 1831

I have heard equality much spoken of; we have called it the fundamental principle of our political organization. I am afraid there has been a great mistake. Without doubt there are universal rights, equal rights for all, rights inherent in humanity and which no human being can be stripped of without injustice and disorder. It has been the honor of modern civilization to redeem these rights from that mass of violence and force under which they had long been hidden and to bring them back to light. There you have personal rights, universal and equal for all, from which stem equality in civil order and in moral order. But will political rights be of this order? It is through tradition, through heredity that families, peoples, and history subsist; without tradition, without heredity you would have nothing of that. It is through the personal activity of families, peoples, and individuals that produces the perfectibility of the human race. Suppress it, and you will cause the human race to fall to the rank of the animals. I say that aristocracy is the condition of modern societies, a necessary consequence of the nature of modern democracy. Upon this aristocracy two conditions are to be imposed: First, it is to be constantly submitted to the control and examination of democracy; second, it must recruit itself constantly from the people.

Speech of February 15, 1842

I am, for my part, a decided enemy of universal suffrage. I look upon it as the ruin of democracy and liberty. If I needed proof I would have it under my very eyes; I will not elucidate. However, I should permit myself to say, with all the respect I have for a great country and a great government, that the inner danger, the social danger by which the United States appears menaced is due especially to universal suffrage; it is that which makes them run the risk of seeing their real liberties, the liberties of everybody, compromised, as well as the inner order of their society. . .


This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history.

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© Paul Halsall, July 1998

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