Alexandre-Pierre-Thomas-Amable Marie de Saint Georges - known as Marie, minister in the provisional government. "It is necessary to have at the head of the capitol, as at the head of the country, first of all an imposing government. I demand that a provisional government be constituted." Mounting the tribune of the chamber of deputies with these words, on February 24, 1848, Marie was one of the first to oppose the regency of the Duchess d'Orleans. The words proclaim his credentials as a républican de la veille and an important player within the moderate faction of the Provisional Government.
Born in the Yonne on February 15, 1795, Marie first came to the attention of the public as a young lawyer under the Restoration, battling for the liberal party. His ties with republicanism began with his defense of republicans in June 1832 and with Etienne Cabet, the utopian socialist, in the following year. He was elected to the chamber of deputies in 1842 and held his seat until the February Revolution. One of the moderate republicans associated with the newspaper le National, he was for legality and order. However, he was an ardent supporter of the banquet campaign in 1847, and interestingly, he also enviced a concern for social problems of time, here breaking with the moderate mould. He held meetings during this period with workers' representatives, notably Anthyme Corbon of l'Atelier. The latter was to remember these ties much later, in 1863, with the tribute that Marie was one of the 'friends of popular improvement who has shown most effective concern for workers' associations.' This interest stopped well short of the socialist ideas of the time. Marie had a great distaste for the theories of men such as Louis Blanc. In 1848 he was against the proclamation of the right to work, and frustrated that it was laid at his door in February when Marie was given the portfolio of public works. In his notes on 1848, he declared that the provisional government was sincere enough in its proclamation, but he himself was hostile to the theory: "I was not a socialist."
As minister of public works, Marie was faced immediately with the immense problem of unemployment. The quandary existed in February, but grew in the spring of 1848. Marie's solution was to set up a large network of national workshops, with a semi-military organization for the purpose of discipline. He was never happy with this solution himself. It was simply, "necessary in the circumstances," he said. He had a horror of the great crowds in Paris, and as far as he was concerned." There were only two solutions to take, armed force or discipline through work and aid." The large workshops unfortunately exacerbated the problem by taking in the large numbers of unemployed without producing the necessary public works projects to give them work. Contemporaries and subsequent historians have blamed Marie for his lack of imagination. Lamartine, in his memoirs accused him of being indecisive, lacking resolution and tenacity. Certainly Marie lacked energy in creating work, especially when his plan for the building of a railroad around Paris was rejected. He merely felt that private industry should lead the way to recovery. However there were mitigating circumstances for Marie, in that money was very short for public works because of the acute financial crisis.
Marie surrendered his portfolio to Ulysse Trélat in May 1848 when he was elected to the executive commission. At this stage, when the dissolution of the workshops was debated in the assembly, he advised caution, being concerned for the workers. But, by the end of June the other side of Marie was again in evidence. On the June 22, at a well-publicized and very fiery meeting at the Luxembourg with workers' delegates led by Louis Pujol, his fear of disorder surfaced once more. He met their complaints with a threat of force. No doubt this contretemps contributed to the crisis leading to the erection of barricades across Paris the following day.
After June Marie was made president of the assembly, a quiet position which appealed to him
after the difficulties he had faced in the first five months of the republic. However, Cavaignac
persuaded him to return to the cabinet on July 15 as minister of justice, which he retained until
the presidential election in December. In May of 1849 he was not re-elected and retired from
politics until the 1860s. He died in Paris on April 28, 1870.
Cherest, Aim é La vie et les oeuvres de A.-T. Marie Paris, 1873.
Cougny, Robert et Adolphe Robert. Le Dictionnaire des parlementaires françaises Paris, 1891, IV.
de Luna, F. A. The French Republic under Cavaignac 1848 Princeton, 1969.
McKay, D. C. The National Workshops: A Study in the French Revolution of 1848. Cambridge Mass., 1933.
Marie, Alexandre. "Les Papiers de Marie," La Révolution de 1848, I (19 05), 151-158, 181-193.
JGC revised this file (http://www.ohiou.edu/~chastain/ip/marie.htm) on October 24, 2004.
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