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Full text of "France in 1870-71; an address delivered before the Cooper Union for the advancement of science and art, New York, Feb. 10, 1872"

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No, 47 Cedar Street, N. Y. 








Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen : 

Four years ago I had the honor of speaking before 
this excellent institution on the subject of the Paris 
Universal Exposition of 1867, that is, on the triumph 
of the arts of civilization, which then seemed to inau- 
gurate in Europe an era of fraternity and peace. But 
now the traces of relentless war — the destructions and 
desecrations of an organized barbarism — are visible in 
the same great capital. 

An old adage tells us, that " what a man knows 
should find expression in what he does." With this 
conviction, and appreciating the noble mission of the 
Cooper Union in elevating the industrial classes, I come 
before you as a merchant, from the care and toil of a 
busy life, to speak this evening of France : the War — 
the Commune — the International. 

The incidents of the terrible foreign war, and the yet 
more terrible social revolution, which have shaken 
France to the centre, but yet failed to ruin it, you 
have doubtless followed with the deepest interest. 

Owing to the unparalleled liberality, enterprise and 


talent of the American press, you at home were better 
informed of the progress of events than we who were 
detained in Europe. You were apprised of the for- 
tunes of war, thanks to the telegraphic nerve, whose 
westward thrills outstrip time itself in velocity, almost 
before the reverberations of the terrible artillery had 
died away upon decisive battle fields. Day by day 
you traced the progress of that tornado of invasion, 
which, in one month from the commencement of hos- 
tilities at Saarbruck, overwhelmed, uprooted and 
swept away the Empire. 

You saw what the popular heroism of France re- 
fused to recognize, that, when the French army 
capitulated, and Napoleon III. surrendered his sword 
at Sedan, the contest was virtually ended. Marshal 
MacMahon recognized it on that fatal morning of 
September 1st, when, on being urged to retire from 
his perilous post, he answered : "Let me alone! Let 
" me show these kings and princes, who hide thern- 
" selves behind masses of men, how a French Marshal 
" can fight and die when victory is no longer possi- 
" ble." Gen. Trochu recognized it, when he declared 
that the defence of Paris was " a heroic folly." 

Yet the efforts to arrest the chariot wheels of destiny 
were glorious. " Heroic folly !" It was such indeed ! 
but a people capable of such chivalric madness cannot 
perish from the face of the earth. The long resist- 
ance of Strasburg ; that of Metz ; the desperate defi- 
ance of little Phalsbourg, which did not open its gates 

to the enemy until every musket had been broken 
and every cannon spiked ; above all, the constancy 
with which Paris endured the long horrors of invest- 
ment and bombardment ; — these claim that tribute 
which generous natures must ever pay to unavailing 
valor and indestructible patriotism. 

The simple secret of the immense military disaster 
which struck down the proudest nation of Europe is 
patent to all : Prussia was prepared for war, and 
France was not. 

It has been said that the Emperor was unaware of 
the superior efficiency of the Prussian army and the 
completeness of its organization. Such, however, 
could not have been the case, for the reports he re- 
ceived from Lieut. Col. Baron Stoffel, his military 
attache to the French Embassy at Berlin, submitted in 
1868, 1869 and 1870, were minute and exhaustive. 

These reports showed that in time of war the 
German Confederation could bring into the field 
900,000 men, which, in an emergency, could be 
raised to 1,200,000, or more; that the number of 
young men of the age of 20 was 300,000, and the 
annual contingent, 93,000 ; that the duration of military 
service was 12 years, three of which were to be passed 
iath. e active army, four in the reserve, and five in the 
Landwehr, with further liability in the Landsturm, until 
the age of 42. 

It was shown that the whole Confederation of 
German States was divided into twelve great circum- 


scriptions, each of which was so organized as to send 
into the field a complete army corps, consisting of two 
divisions of cavalry, one reserve of artillery, one battal- 
ion of pioneers, and all the requisite field service ; and, 
lastly, that the quality of these troops was tried and 
generally excellent. 

That the Emperor had studied these reports is 
proved by a printed but not published document, 
found among his papers at the Tuileries, apparently 
prepared by himself, in which the effective strength of 
the German and French armies was minutely set forth 
in parallel columns, accompanied by the following re- 
marks : 

" Compare the military state of Northern Germany 
" with ours, and judge whether those who desire to 
" reduce our national forces yet more, are well en- 
" lightened as to the real interest of the country." 

Even these statements were based on the apparent 
effectiveness of the French army. The test of expe- 
rience proved that corruption had been at work there, 
as elsewhere ; that men, arms, munitions and pro- 
visions, which figured on paper, had no existence in 
fact ; and that a war with Prussia in 1870 was equally 
unstatesmanlike and unsoldierlike rashness. 

The tremendous military power of Prussia could not 
be hidden from the eyes of the world ; but her secret 
preparations were quite as formidable, and they show 

the maturity of her plans and the thoroughness with 
which she entered upon the campaign. 

Her spies pervaded Europe from St. Petersburgh to 
Paris, and well known French writers have asserted 
that they were afterwards found among the fomenters 
of the civil war of the Commune. More than this, 
many of the most influential journals in Europe were 
paid Prussian organs, one of which, according to M. 
Edw. Schure, whose published pamphlet is my au- 
thority, received 800,000 francs (or $160,000) per 
annum for its venal services. 

This great Franco-German war between parties so 
unequally matched, had its origin neither with the 
people of France nor with the people of Germany ; on 
the contrary, their sympathies as well as interests, 
were, as I know from actual observation, wholly on 
the side of peace. 

The real author of the war was Napoleon IIL, in 
the interest of his dynasty, while his willing accomplice 
was the King of Prussia, in the interest of his ambition. 
In other words, it was a dynastic duel between the 
Bonapartes and the Hohenzollerns. But when hos- 
tilities were once commenced, the spirit of patriotism, 
as in all international wars, united each nation in the 
defence of its flag. 

We learn from Count Benedetti's vindication of 
himself, as late French Ambassador to Berlin, — assum- 
ing the fairness of his statements, — that Napoleon was 
fully informed of Prussia's intended attack on Austria, 


in 1866, long before it took place, and exhibited an 
unaccountable supineness with regard to it. It is 
admitted that his quiescence must have been pur- 
chased by a kind of understanding with Prussia, that 
if she was allowed to pursue her scheme of aggrandize- 
ment, France would be allowed to extend her limits 
by annexation of neighboring territory, provided it 
was of French-speaking people, and this might be 
done by the absorption either of Belgium or portions 
of Switzerland. Had Napoleon acted promptly, he 
might have seized Belgium, at the hazard of a war 
with England, but without any fear of Prussia. The 
opportunity, however, slipped by unemployed. 

Prussia humbled Austria in a campaign of unex- 
ampled brevity, and stood before the eyes of Europe 
as a military Colossus, victorious and armed at all 

France beheld with shame and indignation the 
expansion of her ancient enemy, with no compen- 
sation of increase of territory on her part. A war 
between the two countries seemed inevitable. But 
here difficulties interposed. In their hatred of Im- 
perial sway, the French opposition, though weak, 
rallied adherents, by raising the ever popular cry of 
economy ; and the 120 millions of francs, which Mar- 
shal Niel called for as imperatively necessary, were cut 
down to five millions. At the same time the radical 
party were inflaming the passions of the people by 
harping on the exasperating theme that France had 


been overreached by Prussia. The Constitutional re- 
forms inaugurated by Napoleon's memorable letter of 
the 19th of January, 1867, only served to loosen the 
bonds which held together the political fabric of the 
nation. The extended liberty of the press and the 
right of meeting proved advantageous only to the 
enemies of the Empire. 

Conspicuous among the causes of discontent was the 
ignominious failure of the Mexican Expedition, which 
brought humiliation to the heart, and heavy financial 
losses home to the purse, of Paris. That expedition 
was one of the Emperor's fatal mistakes ; indeed, it may 
be called the besrinning of his downfall. It was un- 
dertaken, too, in the darkest hour of our great rebel- 
lion, when he believed the union of the States was for- 
ever dissolved. Had the attempt been made when 
our arms were unemployed, it would doubtless have 
led to instant war, for a republican people, brave and 
strong as ours, can permit no king or Kaiser to erect a 
permanent throne upon the soil of North America. 

The murder of Victor Noir by a Bonaparte prince 
increased the peril of the situation, and led to danger- 
ous agitation in the capital. 

Still, by shrewd management, by adroit manipula- 
tion of parties, by evoking the Red spectre of revolu- 
tion to terrify the conservatives, by pointing to the real 
services of the Empire in maintaining order, in devel- 
oping the material resources of France, in improving 
the capital, the seaports and the great cities, in foster- 


ing commerce, manufactures and agriculture, and in 
opening new sources of employment for the masses, the 
Emperor signally triumphed in the plebiscite of May, 
1870 ; and for the third time a majority of millions of 
votes seemed to assure him the unchallenged occu- 
pancy of the throne. 

But gathering years and infirmities admonished him 
to think of his successor. He thought he could hope 
to secure the crown to the Prince Imperial only by sur- 
rounding his brow with a halo of military glory, which 
had hitherto never failed to dazzle the eyes of France. 
A Dynastic necessity seemed to compel him, all unpre- 
pared as he was, to quarrel with Prussia, and to declare 
war on a pretext. The selection of a German prince 
as a candidate for the Spanish crown, though disa- 
vowed by King William, led to the demand for farther 
concessions incompatible with the dignity of the Prus- 
sian monarch. 

The French declaration of war was made July 15, 
1870. Notwithstanding the efforts of the Imperialists 
to create enthusiasm, the war was not really popular. 
The reports from Prefects, since discovered in the ar- 
chives, show that the rural populations were averse to 
war ; and, in Paris, though the news produced univer- 
sal excitement, it was not the excitement of martial 
spirit. The streets of the city were filled with an in- 
quisitive and anxious populace, representing every 
class and interest. To ascertain the temper of the 
masses, I drove early in the evening, in company with 


an American friend, in an open carnage through the 
principal Boulevards, and nowhere could we perceive 
among the dense crowds any marked expressions of 
genuine enthusiasm. Here and there a small pack of 
clacqueurs, like those who are paid to start the applause 
at theatres, uttered shouts of "Vive la guerre!" — " On 
to Berlin !" But these cries were followed not long 
afterwards by shouts of " Down with the Empire !" 

It is hardly necessary to add, that many of the most 
eminent writers and thinkers of France openly pro- 
claimed their opposition to the war. Ernest Renan, 
Daniel Stern, Edgar Quinet and Michelet, not to 
mention such statesmen as Messieurs Thiers, Jules 
Favre and others, were most determined in their hos- 
tility to it, and were energetically seconded by some 
of the most powerful journals of Paris. 

When the war broke out, the French could bring 
into the field scarcely more than one-third of the men 
that Prussia had called to arms. Strasburg was armed 
with old ordnance, and imperfectly provisioned. One 
of the forts of Metz was unfinished. Tbe Commissariat 
was a failure from the outset. Political corruption had 
eaten into the very heart of the military strength of 
France. Then came a series of disasters such as never 
before befell a great nation in the world's history, and 
the Empire perished in a breath. 

The petty affair of Saarbruck, magnified by the 
Emperor in his bulletins into a serious victory, in which 
the poor boyish Prince Imperial gallantly received the 


" baptism of fire," was followed by the crushing blow 
dealt by the Crown Prince of Prussia at Weissem- 
bourg; by the French retreat all along the lines; by 
McMahon's second and terrible defeat at Woerth ; by 
Forbach ; by successive days of fighting and disaster; 
by the terrible actions of Gravelotte, Mars Latour, 
Beaumont, St. Barbe ; and last, and worst of all, Sedan. 

Only vague rumors of reverses reached Paris. The 
Government was deterred from publishing the facts by 
the fear of provoking a political uprising. When the 
truth could no longer be lied away, when Paris knew 
that the capitulation placed in the hands of the enemy, 
Louis Napoleon, a Marshal of France, 8,000 prisoners 
outside, 4,000 officers of all ranks, 79,000 soldiers shut 
up in Sedan, 14,000 wounded, 10,000 horses, the 
whole war material of a great army, 400 field pieces, 
70 mitrailleuses, 150 rampart guns, all the small arms 
and baggage; — that it opened to the enemy the road to 
Paris, and virtually placed the whole French territory 
in the hands of the Germans ; — then the empire perished 
in a storm of hisses and execrations. A passionate 
insurrection in Paris swept it away on the 4th of Sep- 
tember, 1870. The people, rushing to the Corps 
Legislatif, demanded, or rather declared, the dc- 
cheance — the forfeiture — of the existing Government. 

Thirteen men, chiefly lawyers, journalists and novel- 
ists, seized the helm of the ship of State, and, with the 
assent of the people of Paris, formed a Provisional 


Government of National Defence, taking possession of 
the Hotel de Ville. 

" In a few brief hours of a Sabbath day I had seen 
"a dynasty fall, and a republic proclaimed, and all 
" without the shedding of one drop of blood." How 
full of meaning were these few words of Mr. Wash- 
burne ! 

And here let me say that, did time permit, I would 
gladly speak in detail of the subsequent services which 
our indefatigable, intrepid and sagacious Minister ren- 
dered during the Siege and during the domination of 
the Commune, not only to his countrymen, but to all 
who required his aid. His brave good sense and be- 
nevolence elicited universal commendation. In the 
British House of Commons, Mr. Gladstone, the Prime 
Minister, celebrated, in sonorous periods, the self- 
devotion of our resolute Minister ; and some members 
of the House did not hesitate to contrast his pres- 
ence at the post of duty and danger, with the desertion 
of that post by the Ambassador of Great Britain. 
All the members of the American Legation and of 
the Consulate General ably seconded their devoted 
chiefs, while the efficient service of the American ambu- 
lance corps France will long hold in grateful remem- 

The offices of the new Government of National 
Defence were thus distributed : General Trochtt, (who 
had previously acted as Governor of Paris by Napo- 
leon's appointment,) Minister of War ; M. Gambetta, 


Minister of the Interior ; M. Jules Favre, Minister of 
Foreign Affairs ; M. Ernest Picard, Minister of Finance ; 
M. Jules Simon, Minister of Public Instruction ; and 
M. Cremieux, Minister of Justice. 

The improvised Government had at command, the 
proceeds of a loan of 800,000,000 francs, just sub- 
scribed, and a War Minister of acknowledged ability, 
particularly as an organizer. 

Mobile Guards, hastily recruited in the Western 
provinces, were streaming into Paris, together with 
provisions of all kinds. The works requisite for defend- 
ing Paris, planned by the late war minister, Palikao, 
had only to be continued, and a due enforcement of 
the rules of the siege would have ensured the tran- 
quillity of the capital during the impending blockade. 
Instead, however, of applying themselves with resolu- 
tion and unity of purpose to the task of ensuring a 
successful resistance to the enemy, the Government of 
National Defence began by temporizing with political 
demagogues and adventurers. Its first act was to 
abolish the stamp duty on newspapers, the effect of 
which was that the streets were constantly flooded with 
incendiary sheets, pandering to the vilest passions of 
the populace — a populace, by the way, which were 
furnished with the best fire-arms, when the supply was 
inadequate for the needs of the regular troops. Sixty 
new battalions of National Guards, mainly consisting of 
the most turbulent revolutionists, were created. 

Then came the suppression of the old police, and the 


creation of an unarmed force ; proclamations declaring 
the profession of printer and bookseller free, substitut- 
ing the word National for Imperial on public buildings, 
and creating a commission for changing the names of 
the streets. For instance, the street in which our office 
is situated, was called, under the Empire, Rue du Dix 
Decembre, in honor of the day on which Louis Napo- 
leon Bonaparte was first elected President of the Re- 
public. It now takes the name of Hue du Quatre 
Septembre, the day on which the present republic was 
proclaimed and Napoleon dethroned. A Paris satirist 
has suggested that it be again changed, and take the 
name of Rue de la Prochaine Revolution. 

But, during the week preceding the siege, military 
measures were not neglected. The Government of De- 
fence sought also to consult the people, and issued a 
decree convoking the electoral colleges for the 16th of 
October ; but the election could not take place, owing 
to the state of the country, one-fourth of which was 
occupied by the enemy. The Government, therefore, 
remained in power, without the ascertained consent of 
the nation. 

Another praiseworthy act of the Government of 
National Defence was that of accepting, before the 
blockade, the services of M. Thiers, who offered to 
visit the foreign courts to solicit their good offices be- 
tween victorious Prussia and almost prostrate France. 
Though his mission led to no immediate result, yet its 
effects were perceptible after the war. 



The Prussians continued to advance on the city by 
forced marches, and, on the 19th of September, after 
an action in which the Parisian troops were driven 
from Chatillon, an important position which com- 
manded two of the southern forts, the investment was 
complete. On that day, M. Jules Favre had an inter- 
view with Count Bismarck, in reference to terms of 
peace ; but the demands of the Prussian Premier were 
so exorbitant that the attempted negotiation failed. 
Unfortunately, the Government of France, ignoring the 
fact that victory gives the conqueror the right of dic- 
tating terms, had placed itself in a false position, by 
declaring that " it would not surrender one inch of 
" territory, nor one stone of a fortress." 

By this time business in Paris was generally sus- 
pended. The streets were filled by gangs of men 
roaring the Marseillaise, and marching to and fro. To 
control the excited masses by giving them employment, 
General Trochu, as Governor of Paris, conceived the 
idea of forming an army out of this raw material. In 
less than two months, the army of Paris numbered 
300,000 men, partially drilled, armed and equipped, 
and provided with a train of 600 field guns and 
mitrailleuses, all cast and finished within the besieged 

Another feature of this memorable siege was the 
postal arrangement of air balloons, which became a 
regular institution. The postage on letters more than 
paid for the expense of the balloons. Each balloon took 


out a basket fall of carrier pigeons, the birds returning 
with government and private despatches, miscrosco- 
pically photographed. 

These miscroscopic despatches were afterwards en- 
larged and transcribed. It was in a balloon that the 
fiery Gambetta escaped from Paris to join three of his 
colleagues at Tours, and organize the provisional armies 
which made so gallant but so fruitless a resistance to 
the enemy. We all know that every desperate sortie 
from Paris failed to break the iron line of the invest- 
ment, and that, notwithstanding the brilliant affairs of 
Bourget, Montretout and Buzenval, the Prussians 
steadily advanced. 

Whether wisely or otherwise, the Government of 
Defence laid no restrictions on public meetings. The 
result was, that a great number of revolutionary clubs, 
— " Pted Clubs," as they were called— sprang into exist- 
ence. At most of these, particularly the clubs of 
Favie, Belleville and Montmartre, the most subversive 
doctrines Were preached. Every thing that the world 
holds sacred, the family and the rights of property, 
public order, the sanctities of religion, were mocked 
at ; rebellion was advocated, and assassination justified. 

Two formidable attempts to overthrow the Govern- 
ment of National Defence, one on the 31st of October, 
1870, the other on the 22d of January, 1871, origi- 
nated in these clubs. Every kind of absurdity and 
atrocity found utterance at these gatherings. 

One of the speakers, referring to an article in the 


official journal, announcing that the Government was 
ready to fight or to treat for peace on honorable 
terms, exclaimed : " Is this the language of a Republi- 
" can Government ? No ! no ! it is the language of 
" treason ! A Republican Government ought to decree 
" victory or death !" 

At the Democratic Club of Les Batignolles, (on the 
9th of December,) the President declared that " France 
" would go to the relief of her heroic sister of the 
" North (Poland) as soon as circumstances ivould per- 
" miV The reservation was judicious. 

"What we want," cried one of the orators, " is '93. 
11 Well, '93 will come again ; be sure of it. Citizens, 
11 we shall find new Robespierres and new Marats." 
This sentiment was received with thunders of ap- 

On another occasion, later, a speaker, endorsing 
Henri Rochefort, because he had justified regicide in 
his paper, Le Mot oVOrdre, exclaimed : — 

" Regicide, citizens, Regicide ! If there is a man 
" among you who would kill all the kings, I would not 
" content myself by making him a deputy, I would 
" make him a God, if I believed there was one /" 

At the Club of the Revolution, a speaker delivered 
himself in this wise : " I have been in Africa, where 
" the French have beaten the Arabs, one against a 
" hundred, and I can't understand why we cannot 


" make an end of the Prussians. Are we degenerate ? 
" I saw a Frenchman fight a whole day against a 
" thousand Arabs, in the plain of Mitidja, and succeed 
" by nightfall in putting them all to flight !" 

In the Club of the Rue d' Arras, a citizen excited the 
indignation of the audience against his landlord be- 
cause he had the " meanness" to complain of him for 
burning up the doors of his house for fuel. 

Hunting for Prussian spies, and for traitorous signals 
to the enemy, afforded much occupation to such 
patriots as these during the siege. One night, in the 
Avenue des Thermes, a party of vigilant citizens de- 
tected a " red and green signal" in the front window 
of a house. Mad with suspicion, they rushed up to 
the room on the fifth floor, and found a good old lady 
scraping lint for the wounded. The " red and green 
signal" turned out to be a harmless parrot, swinging 
in a caere at the window. 

It would be repeating a twice-told tale to recount 
how a National Assembly, elected by universal suffrage, 
meeting first at Bordeaux, and then adjourning to 
Versailles, with M. Thiers as President of the Repub- 
lic, concluded the best terms of peace they could 
obtain after all the heroic efforts to turn the scale of 
victory had proved fruitless; and how the Parisians 
were compelled to submit to the indignity of seeing a 
Prussian detachment march into the city on March 1, 
1871, and occupy the Champs Elyseas for a couple of 


days, in assertion of their complete triumph over 
French patriotism and French pride. 

Before sketching the tremendous catastrophe which 
followed shortly after the settlement of the terms of 
peace, let us glance for a moment at the political 
divisions of French opinion. 

There are now four factions in France : the Repub- 
licans, the Imperialists, the Orleanists and the Legiti- 
mists, neither of which has a majority of the people on 
its side, and neither of which is without hope of suc- 
ceeding in establishing a government for the country, 
based on its own exclusive ideas. The principles of 
the Republicans, now virtually in power, require no 

The Imperialists claim that the Empire, ratified by 
universal suffrage, has never been legally dissolved, 
and assume that another plebiscite would restore and 
re-affirm it. 

The Orleanists claim the inheritance of a constitu- 
tional title, and are represented by princes whose per- 
sonal character and talents are above question. Two 
of them, the Duke d'Aumale and the Prince de Join- 
ville, have been elected to the National Assembly, and 
finally permitted to take their seats. Their nephew, 
the Count de Paris, is a pretender to the throne. 

There are pleasant memories of the long and peace- 
ful reign of the Citizen-King among the middle classes, 
and his grandson is not without a powerful party. 
But the mass of the people cannot forget that the 


Monarchy of July deceived their aspirations, and, in its 
later days precipitated a revolution by repeating the 
despotism and errors of the elder Bourbons. 

The people of France had but a small share in its gov- 
ernment under the reisrn of Louis Philippe. There was 
a Legislature composed of a Chamber of Peers and a 
Chamber of Deputies, corresponding to our Senate and 
House of Representatives. But the King appointed 
the Peers, and as no man was allowed a vote for repre- 
sentatives who was not a landed proprietor, paying 
200 francs, or $40, annual tax, there were but about 
200,000 voters out of a population of over 30,000,000 ; 
in fact, less voters than there were office holders ap- 
pointed by the Government. This small body of elect- 
ors was easily manipulated by public officials. Di- 
rectly, or indirectly, both Chambers were practically 
appointed by Louis Philippe and his ministers. There 
were also other abuses in the system. The deputies, 
chosen by royal influence, were often functionaries who 
received salaries while retaining their seats in the 
Chamber. If they did not vote with the Government, 
of course they were removed. The result was, that 
Louis Philippe, though he did not openly and boldly 
declare, " I am the State," as Louis XIV. did, ac- 
tually exercised the same authority. 

In striking contrast with this is the fact, that, in the 
recent election, the Republican authorities prohibited, 
in the most formal manner, the interference of office 


holders in the canvass, leaving the people entirely free 
to express their will. 

The Count de Chambord, the claimant of the throne 
of France, supported by the Legitimist party, which 
hopes to see him crowned as Henry V., rests his pre- 
tentions on the Divine Right of Kings. Against this 
right the people of France protested in 1789. The 
first and second Republics, the first and second Em- 
pires, the choice of Louis Philippe, as King of the 
French, were the assertions of the right of an elective 
government against the pretensions of the right divine. 
Foreign bayonets restored Louis XVIII. ; French 
bayonets could not retain Charles X. on the throne. 
Yet the Legitimists still hope to see the Bourbon lilies 
and the white flag, the symbols of Divine Right, once 
more replace the Eagle and the Tricolor. The Church 
supports their cause. The Catholic clergy, as a choice 
of evils, accepted Louis Napoleon, and he secured 
their adhesion by sustaining the temporal sovereignty 
of the Pope. It was under his auspices that the Ro- 
man Republic of 1849 was destroyed. The final with- 
drawal of the French troops by the Emperor was an 
act which the clergy can never forgive, as it opened 
the gates of Rome to Victor Emanuel. 

A fusion of the Legitimists and Orleanists has been 
talked of, but that is hardly possible, for it would in- 
volve the surrender by each party of its logical basis. 
The assertor of Divine Right would have to recog- 
nize the claims of a Revolutionary dynasty, and the lat- 


ter compelled to admit that royalty had a supernatural 
origin. The Count de Chambord could not bequeath 
the throne to the Count de Paris, though the Count 
de Paris is his " legitimate" successor ; for the elder 
branch of the Bourbons has systematically warred 
against the rights of the people, and inevitable revolu- 
tion has long ago negatived its capacity to bequeath 
the Government of France as an inheritance. 

We must now consider as briefly as possible certain 
theories and certain associations, whose applications 
and acts were terrible elements in the recent tragic 
history of Paris. 

The relations of Capital and Labor have for many 
years been the subject of the profoundest study of the 
greatest minds, and they now raise questions which 
have assumed a colossal magnitude. In Europe these 
questions are fraught with danger to civilization itself; 
•in this country, I dare to hope, they are divested of all 
future peril. They are dangerous in Europe, because 
the conditions of a pacific solution, a free ballot, free 
speech, a free press, common schools and general cul- 
ture, are there mainly wanting. But they are no longer 
dangerous in America, because here these conditions 
exist ; because the opportunities for success are uni- 
versal ; because almost boundless tracts of land afford 
an outlet for excessive populations in crowded lo- 
calities ; and because the local claim of capital to the 
ownership of labor has been for ever settled by force of 


In a country where most of our capitalists, both na- 
tive and adopted citizens, have risen from poverty to 
affluence by their own exertions, by manual toil or 
inventive genius, by labor of head or hand ; where the 
consolidation of inherited wealth is an exception to 
the general rule ; there is little danger that any for- 
midable number of our working men will adopt the 
fundamental axiom of the International Society, that 
" capital is the enemy of labor," or endorse the horrible 
propositions of Prudhon, that " property is theft, mar- 
" riage an immorality, God an evil." 

Here the inter-dependence of capital and labor is 
generally recognized, and the regulation of their rela- 
tions, amicably and satisfactorily, is provided for by 
the very nature of our institutions, and the character 
and traditions of our people. 

It is gratifying to know that, in this country, the 
questions growing out of the relations of capital and 
labor, the condition of the latter, its claims on legisla- 
tion, and kindred topics, are now to be thoroughly in- 
vestigated by a Congressional Bureau, recently estab- 
lished by law. 

The idea of an inevitable war between capital and 
labor, in which one or the other must be destroyed or 
enslaved, is an absurdity unworthy the intelligence of 
an average American school boy. 

The grandeur and glory of every Nation belong to 
the People. By their labor, by their valor, by the 
men of genius sprung from their ranks, they have 


won their full share of enduring renown. We accept, 
as a law, the community of interests in every so- 
ciety. The wise statesmen looks watchfully to the 
claims of the masses ; and none but the veriest de- 
magogue seeks to array one class against another, 
whether it be by favoritism or class legislation in the 
interest of the rich, or by appeals to the passions 
and prejudices of the poor. In this free country, • 
where the ballot is in every man's hand, and education 
is provided for all ; where there is no restriction on 
the rights of laboring men to form co-operative soci- 
eties, — which are worthy of all praise ; where every op- 
portunity is offered to workmen to better their con- 
dition, — there is no excuse, as I trust there is no desire, 
for the violent measures which have produced such de- 
plorable results in Europe. 

From time to time, charlatans have appeared who 
have claimed to possess sovereign panaceas for all 
social evils, as there have been at all times quacks who 
have pretended to cure all physical maladies. Both 
have made converts, and both have generally contrived 
to enrich themselves at the expense of their dupes. 

Only a passing allusion is necessary to Plato's " Re- 
public," Sir Thomas More's " Utopia," Morelly's 
" Code of Nature," the Socialist movement of the 16th 
century, and Babeuf's " Conspiracy of Equals," to show 
the antiquity and persistence of theories for the radical 
renovation of society. They all misconceive the na- 
ture of man. 


The French revolution of 1830 brought into promi- 
nence the doctrines of St. Simon, Fourier and Cabet. 
These theories took no permanent root. A more prac- 
tical influence in France was exerted by the philan- 
thropic impossibilities of the scheme of Louis Blanc, 
published in 1840, and largely accepted by the work- 
ingmen of Paris. Hatred of rivalry, and love of abso- 
lute equality, were the passions to which he appealed 
with a certain success. According to his plan, the 
skilled mechanic was to receive no higher remunera- 
tion than the unskilled workman ; the man of energy 
and genius was placed side by side with the dawdler 
and the simpleton. The prevention of laziness, the 
suppression, indeed, of all crimes, was to be secured 
by means of no police officers or courts of justice, but 
by the simple announcement on a placard, " The Idler 
is a Robber!" 

When the Revolution of 1848 triumphed, a decree 
of the Provisional Government, of which Louis Blanc 
was a member, guaranteed work to all who needed it. 

In July of that year the Assembly voted a credit of 
5,000,000 francs for the purpose of making advances 
to such workingmen as wished to form associations. 
Thirty-two of these were formed in Paris, and twenty- 
nine in the departments, absorbing nearly the whole 
of the appropriation. The abolition of competition 
and the equality of salaries were the two great features 
of Louis Blanc's system. One hundred and eighty 
(180) societies of workmen were formed in Paris, 


without the aid of the Government. Most of these 
societies started with Louis Blanc's theory, but aban- 
doned it in practice, labor being remunerated accord- 
ing to its quality. His system proved a complete 
failure. In 1858 there remained at Paris but nine of 
the associations fostered by the Government, and only 
four of those were prospering, while of the 180 co- 
operative societies existing iu 1850, but ten were in 
existence in ] 867. 

Before the establishment of any of these societies, 
combinations had been formed among the workingmen 
in defiance of law. Under the Restoration and the 
Monarchy of July, the coalitionists were repeatedly 
prosecuted. These assaults on a natural right alienated 
the workingmen from the Government, and threw them 
into the revolutionary ranks. The republic of 1848 
did not enforce the law, and it was abolished in 1864, 
only acts of violence being punished. In England the 
rights of the laborer were secured in 1825. 

A Delegation of French workingmen, with the sanc- 
tion and aid of the French Government, visited the 
great London Exhibition of 1862. While there in con- 
sultation with their English brethren, they laid the 
foundation of the International Association of Working- 
men, which is said to number now 2,500,000 mem- 
bers. The English Trades Unions, with many good 
features, such as a provision for members in case of 
sickness or accident, insurance against loss of tools, &c, 
exercised great tyranny in the enforcement of Strikes, 


and committed sanguinary outrages, particularly in 
Sheffield. But their influence was local. They had 
no relation with the continental Trades, and no means 
of preventing the importation of continental mechanics 
to fill the places of strikers. The International Society 
proposed to unite the workingmen of the world in one 
body. Provisional statutes were drawn up at a meeting 
held in St. Martin's Hall, London, September 28, 1864. 
There was nothing very alarming in the programme ; 
it dealt chiefly in " glittering generalities." 

The first committee of the International sketched 
vaguely the organization of the future society, the 
principal point being the establishment of a general 
Annual Congress, which should fulfill the office of a con- 
stituent and legislative assembly, and appoint a perma- 
nent general Council, destined to be the real govern- 
ment of the Association. A more or less considerable 
number of the members of the Association grouped 
together, either because they belonged to the same 
trade in the same locality, or because they lived in the 
same town or quarter, formed a federation. All the 
united federations composed the Association, which is 
directed by annual Congresses, and governed by the 
general Council. The members of each section were 
to choose delegates to represent them, some in the 
federal Council, others in the Congress which elects the 
members of the general Council. Practically the found- 
ers of the society seem to have constituted the general 
Council from the outset, their powers having been con- 


tinued and confirmed by the annual Congresses. All 
the federations of a single locality are combined under 
the name of branch, and the combination of all the sec- 
tions, federations and branches, constitutes the Interna- 
tional Society of Workingmen. The annual cost of 
membership is small — in some localities only two cents. 
In France the total annual assessments of a member 
never exceed 8 francs, or $1.60. The aggregate fund, 
however, enables it to sustain strikes in any locality, 
whenever it is thought advisable. 

It would occupy too much time to go minutely into 
the detail of the machinery of this Association. Suffice 
it to say, that all its branches are in constant commu- 
nication with each other, and that they succeed in 
maintaining this correspondence even in countries 
where such societies can have no legal existence. All 
orders emanating from the general Council in permanent 
session in London, are implicitly obeyed by the whole 
fraternity. The first Congress was opened at Geneva, 
Sept. 3, 1866 ; the second at Lausanne, Sept. 2, 1867; 
the third at Brussels, Sept. 6, 1868; and the fourth at 
Basle, Sept. 6, 1869. Owing to the state of the conti- 
nent, no Congress met in 1870. We may regard the 
Commune of Paris as the Congress of 1871. 

A "French Positivist," author of "Political Notes 
on the Present Situation in France," published in Lon- 
don, thus describes the theories of the International: 

" Their philosophy is atheism, materialism, the ne- 


" gation of all religion. Their political programme is 
" summed up in absolute individual liberty, obtained 
" by the suppression of all government, and the divis- 
" ion of Nationalities into Communes more or less feder- 
" ated. Their political economy consists essentially in 
"the dispossession, with compensation, of capitalists, and 
" the transfer of their money, implements of labor and 
" land, to workingmen's associations. Their historical 
" theory is that the nobility and middle class have had 
u their day, and that of the laboring class has now 
"come. They exclude all persons outside of the 
"working class." 

How far this representation is correct, we shall see 
from the reports, speeches and resolutions of the Con- 
gresses, and from studying the International at ivork in 
Paris. A Swiss workingman having proposed to open 
with prayer the Congress of 1866, according to the 
custom of his country, the motion was indignantly re- 
jected, and most of the delegates formally declared 
their atheistic and materialistic sentiments. In the 
same Congress a motion declaring the equivalence of 
functions was adopted — that is, the day's work of one 
man was worth no more than the day's work of an- 
other. In 1866 it was declared by a vote of 50 out 
of 65, that society has a right to abolish individual 
property, to transfer it into collective property, and 
that there is a necessity for effecting this transformation 
of property as soon as possible. The division of pro- 
perty is characterized by the new name of Collectivity. 


"Divide!" says Batle St. John — who cannot be ac- 
cused of virulent hostility to Communism — " why, in 
" six weeks the whole world would be mortgaged to 
"usurers !" 

A story is told of Baron de Rothschild, which shows 
his appreciation of th's system. A couple of Commu- 
nists waited on him, and told him that his wealth be- 
longed not to himself, but to the people of France col- 
lectively. "Ah!" said the Baron, as he took a scrap 
of paper and made a prompt calculation, " then your 
" share will be four francs. Here's a five franc piece. 
" Never mind about the change, but go about your 
" business." 

How the transfer of property from its present to its 
future possessors, or how the liquidation of capital, 
to use the phrase of the Internationals, is to be effected, 
has never been clearly indicated ; but some such pro- 
ceeding as this has been suggested. If a man borrows 
a hundred dollars, and pays yearly installments of ten 
dollars each, at the end of ten years the debt will be 
paid. President Andrew Johnson, it will be remem- 
bered, proposed to pay our vast war debt in this way. 
The abolition of interest is a prominent feature in the 
new system. 

It is hardly necessary to add, that the funda- 
mental idea of the Internationals, the negation or 
denial of the rights of property, with its chimeri- 
cal conclusions, the subordination of capital to labor, 
the suppression of wages, and the establishment of ab- 



solute equality, is essentially false and inconsistent with 
the nature of men and things. Make what laws you 
please, you cannot abrogate the laws of God. Men, 
equal before the law, and in freedom equal, are by nature 
made unequal in capacity. The strong and healthy 
will ever be superior to the weak and feeble ; the giant 
will ever overtop the pigmy ; men will always be rela- 
tively rich and poor. 

The International plan of social re-organization is 
summed up in one word — Communism — or, rather, Col- 
lectivity. Agriculture, mining, manufactures, and all 
the branches of labor are to be controlled by working- 
men alone. Capital is to receive but a minimum of 
subsistence. In short, " war against capital" is the 
watchword of the new party. If the association had 
confined itself to theory and argument alone, it would 
have been comparatively harmless, for error in time 
refutes itself. Unfortunately it abandoned its pacific 
ground, and resorted to revolution. In the history of 
the Commune of Paris, its record is written in letters 
of fire and blood. 

The Paris International Branch contributed largely 
to the overthrow of the Imperial Government on the 
4th of September. To establish the Republic, it was 
necessary to enlist every shade of liberal opinion, and 
it was the adhesion of the radical Red Party which en- 
sured the favorable response of Lyons, Marseilles, Bor- 
deaux, Toulouse and other cities and towns of less im- 
portance to the Paris revolution. The Government of 


National Defence, when firmly seated in power, was 
compelled to oppose the dangerous radical element, 
and this led to armed attempts, one nearly successful, 
to overthrow the party of order. The leading conspi- 
rators, such as Flourens, Blanqui, Felix Pyat, and 
others of the same type, though foiled, continued to 
foment discontent and hatred among the revolutionary 
masses, and only waited for an auspicious time to strike 
a fatal blow at the heart of France. 

While the insurgents held for a few hours possession 
of the Hotel de Ville, on the 31st of October, 1870, be- 
fore the Breton Mobiles drove them out, they nomi- 
nated a ministry, embracing the names of Dorian, Felix 
Pyat, Blanqui, Milliere, Raspail, Rochefort, Motta, 
Louis Blanc, Arrial, Delescluze, Ledru Rollin 
and Victor Hugo. Milliere's brief authority was sig- 
nalized by his sending an order on the Treasury De- 
partment for the modest sum of 15,000,000 francs. 
The draft was not honored, but the messenger was dis- 
honored by being arrested on the spot. As the count- 
er-revolutionists claimed that their right to assume 
power was at least as good as that of Messrs. Jules 
Favre and his colleagues of the Government of National 
Defence, the latter decided to settle the question by an 
appeal to universal suffrage. A general vote was taken 
in Paris on the 3d of November, in which the Govern- 
ment of National Defence obtained in all 558,196 votes, 
against 62,638, polled by their opponents. At the 
election held in the interest of the Commune, on the 16th 


of March, only 109,236 votes were cast, of which about 
two-thirds were for the candidates of the Commune. 
In the supplementary election of April 16th, when the 
friends of order abstained from voting, the Red Re- 
publican vote was 45,454, or less than one-tenth of the 
original vote given in favor of the Government of 
National Defence, whose authority the " Reds" repudi- 

These facts demonstrate that the destructives were 
but a miserable fraction of the population, whom, for 
a time, like the Jacobins of '93, they ruled by terror ; 
and that it is as unjust to charge the citizens of Paris 
with the robberies, conflagrations and murders of the 
Commune, as it would be to charge the citizens of 
New- York with the burning of the Orphan Asylum, 
and the hauging of colored men in the riots of July, 

The Internationals took no apparent part in the 
assaults on the Hotel de Ville during the Prussian 
siege ; they had a deeper object in view. Their hour 
had not arrived. The Central Committee of the or- 
ganization had been gradually forming and organizing, 
without the knowledge of the authorities. They had 
caused their agents and blinded dupes to be enrolled 
in the National Guard, and in the temporary or march- 
ing regiments, but with the strict injunction not to 
imperil their valuable lives. When they were ordered 
to the front or to the trenches, they were either so 
intoxicated as to be unfit for service, or they broke 


and ran, thus giving a bad name to the loyal and brave 
men who honestly risked their lives for their country. 
They were instructed to hoard their ammunition for 
the use of the Central Committee, and whenever a man 
of the association returned from duty, his cartridge- 
box would be empty, though he had not fired a shot. 
The bullets that spared the Germans were reserved 
for the hearts of Frenchmen. Ammunition wagons 
sent to the forts, under escort of the Internationals, 
reached their destination singularly lightened. More- 
over, nearly all the Chassepot rifles mysteriously dis- 
appeared. The Government could not be ignorant of 
the main facts of the situation, and lived in constant 
trepidation. Thus, when M. Jules Favre went to the 
Prussian camp to capitulate, he expressly stipulated, 
contrary to Count Bismarck's advice, that the Mobiles 
and not the National Guards should be disarmed ; for 
he well knew that an attempt to deprive the latter of 
their arms would instantly produce open insurrection. 
When, on the 3d of March, 1871, the Prussians 
evacuated Paris, in consequence of the ratification of 
the preliminaries of peace by the Assembly, the capital 
was in this condition : The chief of the executive 
power had, in virtue of the articles, a force of 12,000 
regular troops for the maintainance of order. He 
could, in addition, rely upon about 60,000 National 
Guards of the better class ; but he had to deal with 
upwards of 50,000 National Guards devoted to a 
mysterious Central Committee, well provided with 


field guns, rifles and cartridges. The Germans were 
outside, in possession of all the forts. In a few days 
they were to evacuate the left bank of the Seine, which 
included Versailles and the forts of Mont Valerien, 
Ivry, Bicetre, Montrouge, Issy and Vanves. At this 
time there were in Paris great discontent and much 
sullen anger at the result of the contest. A vast num- 
ber of workingmen, who had contracted habits of 
idleness, and who were living on their pay as National 
Guards, while drawing rations for their families, were 
alarmed at the prospect of a sudden cessation of these 
resources. Traders, ruined by the siege, were dissatis- 
fied with the vote of the Assembly regulating the pay- 
ment of debts. The national representatives were 
generally distrusted. It was very easy for the Central 
Committee, through their active agents, to fan the 
flame of discontent and aggravate the fears of the 
populace. The rebellion, indeed, was prepared ; the 
mine was ready to be exploded. 

After the official announcement of the capitulation, 
it was ascertained that the Germans could only exact 
the surrender of the arms and munitions in the forts 
and outside the walls. General Vinoy gave orders to 
bring in all the war material within the circuit of the 
exterior works. But the greater portion of it was 
taken possession of by the National Guard and dis- 
tributed inside the barrier of Italy, at the Park 
Monceaux, the Heights of Montmartre and the Place 
des Vosges. Finally, the National Guards concen- 


trated about 200 pieces at Montmartre. The Guards 
engaged in this work all belonged to the dangerous 
Faubourgs : La Villette, T Belleville, Montmartre and 
Batignoiles ; — to the class that received 30 cents a day 
each, and were under the control of the ringleaders of 
the two violent demonstrations at the Hotel de Ville. 
This was a great oversight or a grave mistake on the 
part of the Government. If the regular troops could 
not be trusted, (lest an attempt should be made to re- 
instate Napoleon III.,) the loyal National Guards, in 
the centre of the city, might have been safely em- 

On the 17th of March, Gen. Vinoy attempted to 
take possession of the guns in the Place des Vosges, 
but the National Guards refused to surrender them ; 
the troops retired ; and 56 pieces were removed by the 
rebellious guards to Belleville and the Buttes Chau- 
mont. The revolutionists of Montmartre now no 
longer masked their purposes. An acting Committee 
of 40 members was chosen, claiming authority for 215 
battalions. M. Thiers issued a proclamation, appealing 
to popular reason and patriotism, and announcing that 
the guns stolen from the State should be restored to 
the National arsenals. 

The storm of revolution suddenly burst on the night 
of the 17th— 18th of March. The tocsin sounded and 
the drums beat the generate. The men of Montmartre 
stood to their guns in their entrenchments. In the 
morning, General Lecomte advanced on the insurgents, 


but his own soldiers fraternized with them, and he was 
taken prisoner. He had previously been urged by the 
Mayor of Montmartre to retire from a hopeless position, 
and save his life. He replied, " I cannot. Here is a 
" written order from General Vinoy, commanding me 
" to hold my ground at all hazards. I cannot leave 
" without a counter-order." 

General Vinoy, himself, had an engagement in La 
Place Blanche with the insurgent guards, but was not 
supported by his men, who retreated in spite of the 
efforts of their officers. One hour afterwards the rebels 
were in undisputed possession of Montmartre. All the 
approaches to Montmartre and Belleville abounded with 
barricades, and the members of the Red Clubs were 
everywhere fanning the flame of rebellion with incen- 
diary appeals. The revolution spread like fire on the 
prairies, and the Red flag floated defiantly even from 
the column of July. 

General Clement-Thomas, formerly commander of 
the National Guards, went to the lines of Montmartre 
in citizen's dress, in the spirit of conciliation, and was 
made prisoner. His sad fate, and that of General 
Lecomte, are well known. A band of National Guards, 
in a state of beastly intoxication, took these two gallant 
generals, tied their hands behind them, dragged them 
into a secluded place, formed on the spot a so-called 
Council of War, composed of an insurgent captain, a 
lieutenant and a few guards, who forthwith condemned 
them to be shot. General Thomas, turning to General 


Lecomte, said : " General, an hour ago I had not the 
" honor of your acquaintance ; nevertheless, I am to 
" die with you." General Lecomte replied, "Alas! yes. 
" Why have the balls of the enemy spared us ?" They 
were both placed against a wall, and asked if they had 
any thing to say. " Yes," replied General Thomas, 
" you are cowards and assassins I" The order to u fire " 
was then given. General Thomas expired instantly. 
General Lecomte survived a few minutes, and ex- 
claimed, " My poor wife ! my poor children ! will 
France take care of you ?" These were the first mur- 
ders committed by the Commune — unhappily they 
were not the last. 

On the evening of the 18th of March, the insurgents 
had obtained possession of the head-quarters of the 
National Guard, of the Ministry of Justice and of the 
Hotel de Ville, while General Vinot, not daring to trust 
his troops, retired, leaving to the loyal portion of the 
National Guard the task of restoring order. M. Thiers 
requested the different ministers to secure their papers, 
and repair to Versailles. The insurgent Central Com- 
mittee issued two proclamations, one addressed to the 
people of Paris, the other to the National Guard, de- 
claring that they had fulfilled their mission of organiz- 
ing the defence, and of overthrowing the Government, 
and convoking the voters of the sections to elect the 
Municipal Council of Paris. Of course, the regular 
Government retorted by a counter-proclamation. 

We have seen what a mere fraction of the people 


endorsed the Commune at the polls. The insurgent 
Committee declared the state of siege raised, perma- 
nent councils of war abolished, an amnesty for all 
political offences, and a determination to maintain the 
preliminaries of peace. Respect for all liberties, that 
of the press being emphatically specified, was pro- 

Various efforts were made to effect a compromise 
between the rebels and the regular Government, but 
all failed on account of the exorbitant demands of the 
Commune. An unarmed demonstration of the friends 
of order was made, but the procession, on its way to 
the Place Vendome, was fired on in the Rue de la 
Paix, and dispersed. The leading journals of Paris 
were one by one suppressed by the Commune for dar- 
ing to denounce the insurrection. Then commenced 
a reign of terror, of spoliation and assassination. A 
system of espionage was established, and denunciation 
invited. Churches were pillaged and desecrated ; 
priests and nuns were robbed and persecuted. All 
the officers of the National Guard who did not rally to 
the Central Committee were made liable to the penalty 
of death. The Bank of France was forced to make 
advances to the insurgent administration ; capitalists 
were condemned to furnish subsidies ; the cash-boxes 
of charitable societies were rifled ; orphans were de- 
prived of their means of subsistence ; railway compa- 
nies compelled to contribute funds. A tax of 500,000 
francs was levied on Baron de Rothschild, but he is 


said to have compromised by paying 200,000 francs. 
The expenses of the Commune were 800,000 francs a 
day, or nearly $5,000,000 a month. 

It is not my purpose to obtrude personal experi- 
ences, but perhaps a single reminiscence may be par- 
doned. On the 26th of March, eight clays after the 
inauguration of the Commune, I passed a day with 
three American Generals visiting the chief points of 
interest. Taking an open barouche, in company with 
Lieutenant-General Sheridan and Generals Forsyth 
and Merritt, we first drove up the Boulevards nearly 
to the column of July, where we encountered a huge 
barricade. A grim savage, in the uniform of a Na- 
tional Guard, on beim? asked if we could make our 
way through a by-street to the Hotel de Ville, gruffly 
answered : " No ! The best thing you can do is to go 
"back where you came from." Americans, however, 
are not apt to give up a project so easily. We finally 
succeeded in reaching the desired point in the Rue de 
Rivoli, where another barricade confronted us, with a 
zigzag passage through it. Here we alighted from 
the carriage, and General Sheridan taking the lead, 
passed the sentinel, and, with the crowd, went inside 
the square. Not altogether fancying the prospect 
before us, I advised the General to come back, which 
he attempted to do, but was stopped by the sentry, a 
bright, intelligent, honest-looking fellow. On telling 
the sentry who the General was, he exclaimed, most 
feelingly : " Ah ! an American General ! You are 


" republicans. We want to be republicans like you— 
"that is all we ask for; then we shall be content;" 
and earnestly grasping my hand, he gave orders to allow 
the General to return. 

By a skillful flank movement, we passed a second 
barricade and reached the square of the Hotel de 
Ville, where we found a crowd, and a large number 
of National Guards under arms. Presently a shot 
was fired, occasioning much alarm ; but at once the 
arms of the soldiers were reversed, showing that 
there was nothing to fear. In a moment after 
another gun was fired. I asked a sullen looking by- 
stander : " What is that ?" He roughly replied : 
" What is it ? You know as well as I do — it was a 
"gun-shot," making the remark in a tone hardly in 
keeping with ordinary French politeness. What was 
going on we could not learn — nobody seemed to 
know ; but we had satisfied our curiosity, and con- 
cluded to move on. Regaining the carriage, we con- 
tinued our drive through the heart of Paris, passed 
out over the Point du Jour to Sevres, visiting; St. 
Cloud and Montretout, returning under the silent guns 
of Mont Valerien, by Courbervoie and Neuilly. 

The character and bearing of the persons composing 
the different regiments seemed strongly to impress 
General Sheridan. " They are not bad looking men," 
he repeatedly remarked. And, indeed, a large portion 
of the rank and file seemed to be honest but deluded 
citizens, who thought they were fighting for municipal 


rights and the Republic, against a government of roy- 
alists, which designed to restore the monarchy and 
betray the people. Distrusting M. Thiers and the 
Assembly, their purposes were in the main patriotic. 
Their honest intentions were misdirected by the Com- 
munist leaders, and their valor and enthusiasm em- 
ployed by these leaders in an assault on the social 
fabric, when they really thought they were defending 
republican institutions. Exceptions, of course, must 
be made. A portion of the insurgent troops, espe- 
cially those from Belleville, were indeed true types of 
the most ferocious revolutionists. As one of the bat- 
talions from that turbulent quarter was passing, even 
General Sheridan, with a shake of the head, could not 
help saying : " Well, those are hard-looking fellows — 
all of them! 1 ' 

When military operations against the Commune 
commenced on the 1st of April, it was feared that the 
troops would not fight resolutely against the insurgents. 
But an act of the federals, as they called themselves, 
removed all doubt. The commander of the Govern- 
ment troops sent a flag of truce to the rebels, in the 
hope of inducing them to retire without an engage- 
ment. The officer who bore it was fired upon and 
killed. This atrocious murder exasperated the troops, 
and from that day forward all wavering was at an end. 
The insurgents made a sortie on Versailles, counting on 
the neutrality of Mount Valerien, but the Commandant, 
who had pledged the neutrality of the fort, had been 


removed, and its heavy artillery opened on the rebels 
with terrible effect. The result was, that many were 
killed, many more made prisoners, and the rest sought 
safety in retreat. 

The notorious Gustave Flourens, who had cre- 
ated himself a General, took refuge in a house at 
Chaton. A gendarme opened the door and summoned 
him to surrender. " This is my reply," said he, dis- 
charging his revolver point blank at the unfortu- 
nate soldier, and killing him instantly. "And this 
is mine ! " said, a Captain of the Gardes de Paris, who 
entered the room a moment after, as he split the skull 
of the insurgent chief with one stroke of his sabre. 

I have spoken of the suppression of independent 
newspapers by the Commune. One of its own organs 
was called " Free Paris." It was amusing to hear the 
newsboys shouting, "Here's your Free Paris! six 
" newspapers suppressed ! " 

On the eve of the fall of the Commune, Henry Vrig- 
nault, a courageous journalist, wrote thus of its pre- 
tensions, and the impotency of its acts : 

" Behold the works of the Commune ! The^e are 
" the benefits of the Government which was to confer 
" perfect happiness on the laboring man. Has it opened 
" one workshop ? Has it organized one factory ? No. 
" It has confiscated the factories of the capitalists for 
" the benefit of the workingmen ; but as it has at the 
" same time confiscated workingmen for the profit of 
" the National Guard, what do they gain by it? Be- 


" sides, spoliation is not organization. To arrest priests, 
" to hunt down nuns, to remove the crucifix, to estab- 
" lish clubs in churches, is neither policy nor philoso- 
" phy ; it is loaferdom, donkeyism, stupidity." 

In proportion as the regular Government gained 
strength, and pressed the siege of Paris, did the despo- 
tism of the Commune become intensified. The levy en 
masse was decreed, and all able-bodied citizens of Paris, 
between the ages of 19 and 45, were compelled to take 
up arms against their loyal countrymen, and they were 
not unfrequently driven to the front at the point of the 
bayonet. Had this revolutionary faction been per- 
mitted to execute all its projects, social disorganization 
would have been complete. It arrogated to itself the 
powers of the National Assembly. It went beyond the 
true province of the State, since it invaded those indi- 
vidual rights which it is the duty of the State to protect. 
It encouraged indolence, stimulated class hatreds, 
and substituted for religion a boastful Atheism. It 
plundered rail-road companies, and would have ruined 
the Bank of France, but for the courage and tact of its 
officers, and the resistance of M. Beslat, one of its own 
delegates. It decreed the confiscation of the property 
of the clergy, and also that of capitalists who had ab- 
sented themselves from the city. It suppressed all 
papers that dared to question the wisdom of its acts, 
while it failed to produce a single salutary measure of 
its own. It adopted the red flag as " The symbol of 
" Universal Human love," that flag which Lamartine 


truly said, "had only been trailed in the blood of 
" Frenchmen through the Champ de Mars." Yet, 
under this symbol, in violation of all the laws of war, 
it assassinated the President of the Court of Cassation, 
the Archbishop of Paris, his fellow priests, and other 
non-combatants held as hostages. It carefully abstained 
from offending the Prussians, and pulled down the 
column in the Place Vendome, which commemorated 
the triumph of France over Germany. It cordially 
welcomed all foreigners of military talent and socialistic 
opinions, who were willing to shoot down loyal French- 
men. Dombrowski, a Pole, was for a time its leading 
General, and according to La Petite Presse, received 
at the outset, in cash, the sum of 100,000 francs, as 
the price of his hireling sword. 

But the end was approaching. Beaten at every 
point, and seeing that their cause was hopeless, the 
Communists determined to destroy the capital of 
France, its central glory, the pride of the civilized 
world. This monstrous idea was not a new one. 
General Cluseret, who figured largely in the councils 
of the Commune, a man well known in the United 
States, had announced it long before, in a letter — 
quoted by M. Edmund Villetard, in his History of 
the International — dated New- York, February 17, 
1870, in which he said : 

" As for myself, all which has just passed shows that 
" the Orleanists are creeping by degrees towards 


" power, gnawing the claws of L. N. in such a way as 
" to have only to substitute themselves for him some 
" fine morning. Now, on that day, we must be ready, 
" physically and morally. On that day ourselves or 
" nothing! Until then I shall probably remain quiet ; 
" but on that day, I affirm to you, and I never say yes 
u for no, Paris shall be ours or Paris shall cease to 
" exist It will be the decisive moment for the 
" people." 

The moment came, and the decree went forth that 
Paris should cease to exist. The vilest women were 
released from the prison of St. Lazare, on the sole 
condition that they should go forth, petroleum in 
hand, to aid in firing the doomed city. 

The story of the terrible street fighting during the 
last days of the Commune is well known, but some 
striking incidents may interest you. 

The fiendish outrages perpetrated by the Commu- 
nists in their desperation, not on the proud and 
wealthy, but on humble and hardworking men, guilty 
of no offence but patriotism, are almost without a 
parallel in the history of crime. Of the many appalling 
illustrations of this fact, I will cite but one. When the 
insurgents were retiring along the Boulevard St. 
Martin to the Place du Chateau d'Eau, they entered a 
well known restaurant, kept by M. • Ronceray, and 
demanded its surrender, in order that they might find 
there a shelter while firing on the Government troops. 



" Take it," said the proprietor, powerless to resist, as 
he prepared to retire, followed by his waiters ; but he 
was suddenly stopped by the rebel captain, and ordered 
to take a musket in the insurgent ranks. " I fire on 
Frenchmen! never!" was the heroic reply. The 
employees, to a man, gave the same answer to the same 
demand. "Shoot every one of them !" was the Cap- 
tain's order. The savage and drunken rebels, yelling 
like ferocious beasts, obeyed with alacrity. One volley 
was sufficient. A few moments after, Ronceray and 
his faithful gargons, hurled from the window by their 
assassins, were lying on the sidewalk, where they re- 
mained for the rest of the day — their dead bodies the 
most eloquent of all protests against the mad brutality 
of the most relentless and inhuman of all French 

As the last hour of this insolent despotism drew 
near, evidences of mutual hatred and distrust in its 
own ranks were everywhere conspicuous. In their 
cowardly selfishness, a portion of its most noted chiefs 
disappeared, seeking safety in foreign lands, while its 
really honest but deluded supporters were still fighting 
with a bravery worthy of a nobler cause. Delescluze, 
for example, one of the principal promoters of the 
Commune, honest Delescluze, as he was fondly called, 
divining the inevitable result of the' contest, at- 
tempted to escape in his carriage, by the gate of 
Vincennes. He was sternly refused a passage by his 
own troops, posted at that point. " Go back to the 


field of battle," said the major in command, '•' and die 
like a true republican." The aged revolutionist re- 
turned, and on arriving at the Place clu Chateau 
d'Eau, was recognized by a woman in the ranks, armed 
with a Chassepot, who charged him with treason and 
cowardice. She assailed him, and he replied by a 
push. Then the mob rushed on him, beat him, and 
rolled him in the gutter. Delescluze, recovering, 
and nerving himself up to die, said to his assailants : 

"Yes, I was wrong in devoting my talents and ex- 
" perience to your service. You call me a traitor 
" because I repulsed a vile creature who insulted me, 
" in spite of my years and my gray hairs. You com- 
" bined to assault me — now follow me, and I will 
" show you whether I am afraid to die." 

With a sudden revulsion of feeling, the insurgents 
shouted, " Vive Delescluze /" as the old man advanced 
to the barricade on which shot and shell were literally 
raining. Shortly after he received two balls in hiK 
breast, and instantly dropped lifeless. 

The women who were in sympathy with the Com- 
mune did their full share of burning and fighting 
through its last disastrous days. Those from Mont- 
martre were specially prominent, circulating through 
the heart of Paris, and with milk-cans filled with petro- 
leum, savagely bent on fulfilling their incendiary mis- 
sion to the bitter end. 


Finally, the Commune fell; and, on the 28th of 
May, Marshal MacMahon was enabled to issue a pro- 
clamation, closing with these words : " The strife is 
ended ; order, work and security will revive ;" — a 
promise speedily sustained by facts. 

The excesses which the regular troops committed 
in their hour of triumph, whatever may have been their 
provocations, were wholly unjustifiable. 

It cannot be denied that the French army, in the 
fierce elation of victory, treated the champions of the 
Commune as a hunter treats tigers and wolves. The 
dreadful thirst to kill was dominant both in officers 
and in soldiers. Little discrimination was shown in 
the mad desire to exterminate everybody who was 
supposed to be engaged in the work of exterminating 
French civilization. It must, however, be said, that 
the murders of the French army were sins of impulse, 
while the murders of the insurgents were sins of 

"Rule or ruin" was the object of the Commune;* 
and when it was unable to overthrow the legal gov- 
ernment of the country, it carried out its original 
plan, and with premeditation set fire to Paris, deter- 
mined that its dwellings, its libraries, its museums, its 
monuments should cease to exist. 

Its spirit was simply barbaric ; and when the Com- 
mune was stricken down, the civilized world expected 
that its friends would at least disavow its atrocities ; 
but such was not the case. 


Throughout Europe the organs of the International 
defended its most indefensible acts. The Italian In- 
ternationals, in an address emanating from the Milanese 
Sections, said : " The principles of the Commune of 
" Paris are just, and we accept the responsibility of its 
" acts." 

The English Internationals echoed this sentiment. 
Mr. Johnson, one of their speakers, at a meeting 
held last June, in London, declared that " those work- 
" ingmen who, since the fall of the Commune, blush 
"for it, are to blame. The Commune had a perfect 
" right to execute the hostages." 

Germany was especially outspoken in its defence. 
Herr Babel, a member of the German Parliament from 
Saxony, made a speech before that body, in which he 
said : " The aim of the Paris Commune is neither an 
" impossible nor a pernicious one, as it has been erro- 
" neously called by a previous speaker. On the con- 
" trary, in all Europe, those classes not dead to all 
" feeling of liberty and independence, look upon Paris 
"as their staff of hope. Never mind whether the 
" insurrection is suppressed or not, what is now doing 
" at the French capital is only an outpost skirmish, 
"which followed up some day by a great 
" European battle. War to the palaces, peace to the 
" cottages, and death to luxurious idleness, is, and 
" ever will be, the watchword of the proletariat in all 
" parts of the world." 

If it be objected that certain sections and certain 


orators merely expressed their individual opinions, it 
is only necessary to point to the address of the General 
Council of the International Workingmen's Associa- 
tion, dated in London, May 30,. 1871, "printed and 
published for the Council, by Edward Truelove, 256 
High Holborn, London," to show that the Society, by 
its highest authority, fully endorses the Commune and 
its acts. This address styles the fallen rebels " mar- 
tyrs," declares them enshrined in the hearts of the 
laboring classes, and asserts that " history has already 
" nailed their exterminators to the eternal pillory, from 
" which all the prayers of their priests will never suc- 
" ceed in rescuing them." 

As recently as December 1, 1873, three conspicuous 
members of the Commune, signers of its last decrees — 
Ranvier, Cournet and Arnaud — having fled from the 
just punishment of their crimes, were honored by 
being elected members of the General Council in Lon- 
don. Ranvier was one of those who issued orders for 
setting fire to the public buildings of Paris, as was 
shown by papers found on the persons of some of the 
fallen insurgents. Recent advices from Europe an- 
nounce that the refugee Communists, abusing the hos- 
pitality of England, are now busily at work circulating 
incendiary pamphlets among the pauper population in 
London, (estimated at 120,000 souls,) inciting them to 
rise and make way with the rich. Can it be wondered 
at that some of the European Governments have de- 
cided to use the severest measures against an associa- 


lion which employs the torch of the incendiary, and 
the bullet of the assassin, to advance its cause ? 

On the 30th of May, 1871, the London Times asserted : 
" Paris, the Paris of civilization, is no more. It pitted 
" itself against France, and rather than be beaten, has 
" destroyed itself. We may look for it, but we shall 
"find its place alone. Dust and ashes, tottering walls, 
" twisted or molten iron- work, smoulder and stench are 
u all that remain of edifices and collections, famous in 
"history — the resort of all nations." 

Happily this statement is most grossly exaggerated. 
The timely entrance and persistent bravery of the loyal 
troops saved the city from such wholesale ruin. The 
Tuileries, the Hotel de Yille, the Ministry of Finance, 
the Palace of the Quai d'Orsai, and the Palace of the 
Legion of Honor, were destroyed, together with the 
libraries of the Hotel de Ville, the Louvre, the Prefec- 
ture of Police, and the Council of State. But the 
Louvre galleries, with their precious souvenirs of Ra- 
phael, Titian, Rubens and Murillo, were saved. The 
archives and all the great libraries, all that makes 
" Paris the first city in the world for the student," (to 
quote the words of M. Jules Simon,) remain intact. 
The spires of all the churches yet point heavenward. 

The incubus of destruction removed, Paris revived 
with a rapidity truly marvelous. Instead of sitting 
down in despair, every man went to work to repair 
the damages of the war. The gaps in the ranks of the 
beautiful trees in the Champs Elysees have already 



been filled. The traces of sliot and shell have, for the 
most part, been effaced from the house fronts. A 
fairer Hotel de Ville will rise from the present ruin ; 
and we may confidently predict that the stately front 
of the Tuileries, increased in beauty, will soon face the 
happily untouched obelisk of Luxor, and send its 
haughty glance along the vista closed by the majestic 
mass of the Arc de Triomphe. 

Most bravely have the French people met the finan- 
cial question. In one month after the fall of the 
Commune, the Bourse of Paris exhibited as much 
activity as in its most prosperous years. The Gov- 
ernment of France called for the largest loan ever 
asked for by any nation, 2,000,000,000 francs, (or 
$400,000,000,) ' and with the enemy still occupying 
a large portion of the French territory, with the insti- 
tutions of the country still unsettled, the people re- 
sponded by subscribing in a few hours more than twice 
the amount asked for, or nearly the whole war indem- 
nity, thus showing that the credit of the nation had 
not been shaken. 

Of the prompt return of the people of Paris to their 
sober second thought on political matters, we have only 
to record the fact, that on the 2d of July, 1871, in the 
election for representatives, since the fall of the Com- 
mune, among those chosen to the National Assembly 
were M. Alfred Andre, the eminent banker, M. 
Edward Laboulaye, our tried and devoted friend and 
defender during our own great rebellion, and M. 


Wolowski, of the French Institute, a well known pro- 
fessor and writer on political economy. In all Paris, 
three better men, or more useful legislators, cannot be 

The terrible story of 1870-71 will long be remem- 
bered. Those who control public opinion must and 
will unite in preventive measures to guard against 
the recurrence of similar political convulsions and dis- 
asters in the future. To this task the finest minds of 
France are directing their studies and their energies. 

It would be unbecoming in me to say what is for the 
best interests of the French people, or hazard a con- 
jecture as to what will be the immediate political 
action of their representatives ; but I venture to assert, 
that no government will have a stable existence in 
France, save that which is based on the clearly ascer- 
tained will of the people, expressed in a free election, 
through the medium of universal suffrage. 

The persistent tendencies of the French people have, 
for nearly a century, been in the direction of self-gov- 
ernment ; and, even in view of the existence of four 
great parties, was not M. Thiers unquestionably right 
when he said : " The Republic is that Government 
" which divides us the least ?" 

It seems evident that any Government springing from 
this or that royal family can be but an expedient. 
France has had enough of dynasties and dynastic wars. 

Even in this century, Charles X. was obliged to fly 
from France, and died in exile, while the Duke de 



Bordeaux, in whose favor he abdicated, was repudiated 
by the voice of the people. 

Louis Philippe humiliated the nation, and prepared 
his own overthrow by scheming to perpetuate the for- 
tunes of his family. 

The first Empire drained the life blood of France to 
place European crowns on the heads of Bonaparte 

The second Empire plunged into the last disastrous 
war to secure the throne to the Prince Imperial. 

Although Napoleon III. by the last plebiscite was 
sustained by a majority of millions of votes, yet, at the 
very first election after his overthrow, only five of his 
partizans were chosen to the National Assembly, while 
his most uncompromising opponent, M. Thiers, was 
elected by 27 different Departments, when he could 
only serve one of them. 

It is a little remarkable, and in my judgment to be 
deplored, that many of our own best citizens despair of 
the establishment of a Republic in France. 

If French Republics have hitherto been overthrown, 
what has been the fate of French monarchies? We 
have only to consult history, to see that monarchical 
governments in France have been, in the main, a fail- 
ure, replete with folly, extravagance and crime, strug- 
gling always to promote the interest of a dynasty 
rather than the welfare of the nation. For a period 
of two hundred and seventy-eight years France has 
submitted to twenty-seven different governments — an 


average of a new government every ten years, and 
during two hundred years of that period she has been 
engaged in foreign war. 

Of all the monarchs that reigned over France during 
that time, only four died a natural death on the throne, 
and there was only one of them about whose succes- 
sorship there was no dispute.* 

If a Republic has little stability, can we say much 
of the permanence of Kingly and Imperial rule ? 

Indeed, what the nation really needs to secure for her 
a happy future, is the infusion of fresh vitality into her 
veins, generated by the promulgation of sound liberal 
ideas, through the agency of common schools, a free 
press, free speech, free religious worship and an open 
Bible. In short, she needs a system of education 
similar to our own, which the eloquent Laboulaye has 
so ably advocated, and which will form an enduring 
basis for national regeneration. With such a system, 
let us trust that the people will never repeat the ex- 
cesses which hitherto have attended the struggles for 
popular rights against hereditary, Kingly or Imperial 
power and aristocratic privilege. " Pour instruction 
on the heads of the people ; you owe them that bap- 
tism," was the injunction of a French philanthropist. 

Such an institution as this Cooper Union, founded 
by the intelligent munificence of a workingman, him- 
self the architect of his own fortune, (whose presence 

* France and Hereditary Monarchy, by John Bigelow, 1871. 


honors us to-night,) would, in Paris, be more potent 
against the false and fatal theories of Communism than 
all the cannon, mitrailleuses and Chassepots that can 
be arrayed against their champions. Education is at 
once the chief defence and political safety of a nation. 
" School-houses," said Horace Mann, u are the re- 
publican line of fortifications." Physical force is, in 
the end, powerless against ideas. 

Let us hope that France will gather wisdom from 
the bitter lessons of the war and the Commune. Let 
us give to her people our hearty sympathy in their 
efforts for national recuperation. And let us hope for 
a new France, regenerated, strong in the right, trium- 
phant over internal dissensions, no longer a menace to 
the nations, but a bright exemplar in the peaceful 
march of material progress, intellectual advancement 
and moral grandeur ; — realizing the magnificent image 
in which Milton celebrated the England of Cromwell, 
of " a mighty and puissant nation, rousing herself, like 
" a strong man out of his sleep, and shaking his invin- 
cible locks!" 


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