Intermediate Governments: Executive Commission of 1848

François Arago, the sole holder

of the Chair of the Executive Power Commission

(painted by Carl von Steuben in 1832)

During the intermediacy between Monarchy and Presidential Republic, France was ruled by a couple of short-lived government models. One such was the Executive Power Commission of 1848. In May of 1848 the Assembly constructed the Commission to make executive decisions more efficiently than the preceding Provisional Government and were made up of prominent members of the Assembly and chaired by François Arago. In their brief time in power, they were faced with public unrest and controversy. In June they closed the publicly popular National Workshops which employed thousands of proletariat with jobs. The resulting outrage helped mobilize workers to lead an uprising to protest the closures. The streets of Paris were filled with stone-constructed barricades by the workers. The National Guard (consisting of about 40,000 men) flooded the city and put an end to the uprising. It was the height of tensions under the fragile rule of the Executive Commission. The result of the uprising was the removal of the Executive Commission’s power by the Assembly and the transfer of power to the general who put down the uprising—Louis-Eugène Cavaignac—on June 24th. The result of the uprising and the inefficacy of the Commission helped motivate the adoption of the French Constitution of 1848 which outlined the new position of the President, with the first election to be held in December of that year.

Despite unpopularity with the urban proletariat, the Executive Power Commission attempted to rally them to their side. This poster, dated May 23rd, recounts the events of the 21st which celebrated the first (and last) Fête de la Concorde (Feast of the Concord). It was an apparent attempt to unify the workers and army under the fraternal connections of French patriotism. The Poster encourages this fraternal behaviour and views it as the basis for the Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, l’amour, le respect et la confiance de tous.  

This poster dated June 8th outlines the decision by the Assembly and enforced by the Executive Power Commission to ban large public gatherings. It encourages the reader to stay strong and ignore those they deem as “agitators” against the Republic’s stability. It argues that the Assembly is the will of the people and therefore has the best idea on how to protect the people’s own interests. The poster reveals the discontent between popular political factions and the Assembly, culminating here in an attempt by the latter to silence the former.

This poster is from the Executive Commission of 1848. Dated June 23rd, this poster would’ve come out one day after the June Days uprising began on June 22nd which resulted from the Government’s closing of workshops. It is a call to arms to the National Guard and citizens to stay strong and aid in the governments defense, citing their actions of the previous night’s turbulence through their dismantling of the illegal barricades and the trampling of the uprisers’ flags. It attempts to motivate the reader by warning them France’s enemies are observing them at all times: Vos ennemis, les ennemis de la Patrie veillent encore, veillez aussi.  Note the signature from the Chair of the Commission, François Arago.

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