Saint-Simonians In 1848 the Saint-Simonians were very much present but in curious and unexpected ways. They were present in the ministry of education, at the commission of the Luxembourg, as advancers of feminist causes, everywhere in the revolutionary press and, perhaps most importantly, in the administrative offices of banks and railways. For Saint-Simonians who had "arrived" in the last days of July Monarchy the resolution of the revolution in December of 1851 would be greeted as a deliverance.
The unity of the Saint-Simonian movement had come to an end with the retreat to Ménilmontant and the trial of Prosper Enfantin, Charles Duveyrier and Michel Chevalier in 1832. The attraction of Saint-Simonian ideas had continued. Almost all those, socialist or utopian, who gave direction to the revolution owe something to the school. Louis Blanc recognized Saint-Simon's doctrine of work as inspiration for his "right" to work. Others took up specific aspects of the doctrine and, while not working together, nonetheless gave a Saint-Simonian tone to the aspirations of 1848.
Where were the Saint-Simonians exactly in 1848? The Père, Enfantin was an administrator of the Paris-Lyon railroad. Emile and Isaac Pereire, still protégés of Rothschild were involved with the Ligne du Nord. Jean Jullien was engineer-in-chief of the Paris-Lyon. Michel Chevalier, author of a work on communications in the United States, held a chair at the Collège de France in political economy. Paulin Talabot was fighting for his Avignon-Marseille railroad and hoping to control a Lyon-Avignon to complete it.
These were all former Saint-Simonians threatened by revolution. They were sometimes allies, sometimes rivals, but they shared a common economic point of view. "Here everything falls, stops, closes;" Louis Blanc "Makes fine speeches about the right to this work that does not exist." "Rothschild is said to be as sick as anyone else." For these Saint-Simonian "industriels" the central question of 1848 was the fate of the railroads. Would it be expropriation or purchase? On what terms? Railroad construction had been brought to a halt by the February days. Its resumption, providing "that work that does not exist," might have materially affected the course of the revolution and the republic.
There had been some Saint-Simonian stirrings among those who had once led the religion of humanity. The Pereires held a meeting to form a republican socialist club "already a cadaver" according to Louis Jourdan. Olinde Rodrigues, the "living link" with Saint-Simon emerged from private life to propose a popular constitution "Tout pour le peuple et par le peuple" which would ameliorate the lot of the poorest and most numerous class of both sexes. Gustave d'Eichthal advocated the placing of a statue of Moses on the Place de la Concorde.
There were however Saint-Simonians whose reactions were less ambiguous and who would be seen as converts to a republic which would implement a Saint-Simonian program. Charles Laurent, Jules Reynaud, Hippolyte Carnot, Edouard Charton, Pierre Leroux were deputies. Carnot was briefly minister of education, Duveyrier was at the Luxembourg. Carnot and Reynaud made plans for an Ecole nationale d'administration whose examiners would include Lamé and Abel Transon. The school never functioned, but the notion was resurrected by De Gaulle a century later. Michel Chevalier had opposed the national workshops and in consequence found himself deprived of his chair by former brothers in Saint-Simon. In revenge Carnot, himself, lectured at the Collège de France on the "moral history of women." It was, then, in education that a temporary hold on power and a program clearly representative of Saint-Simonian doctrine came closest to shaping the character of the revolution without, however, reaching the desired goals.
The various strands of Saint-Simonianism displayed themselves most obviously in the press. They were often mingled with interests of a less idealistic nature. Louis Jourdan and Adolphe Guéroult together published La République from March to May of 1848; Charles Duveyrier and Jourdan Le Spectateur Republicain in August and September. From November of 1848 under the leadership of Enfantin, Duveyrier edited Le Crédit. This journal was largely financed by Arlès-Dufour, Lyonnais businessman and Saint-Simonian sympathizer. His opinion of the journal was nonetheless "the bourgeoisie finds it too socialist and Republican; the workers too bourgeois and rose colored." The Pereires during the same period controlled the editorial policy of the Journal des Chemins-de-fer
. The feminist press was led by a number of women with a Saint-Simonian past: Niboyet, Pauline Roland, Suzanne Voilquin, Elisa Lemonnier. La Femme libre, La Voix des femmes, La Politique des Femmes support ed the validity of women's claims to social and political recognition.
In sum, each of the Saint-Simonians while sharing a common outlook with all the others tended during the period 1848 to 1851 to identify himself or herself with a single strand of doctrine and to shape a political stance in relation to it. For Enfantin, the Pereires, the Talabots, the Julliens, the emphasis was on a reawakened economy driven by railroads. For Chevalier the key question was the rationalization of production, not the right to work. These were men uneasy with the republic.
For Carnot and those around him who accepted and participated in the republic the goals were training in the administration of things rather than in the governance of men. Not at all subsidiary was a concern for the emancipation of women. The women veterans of Saint-Simonianism set a number of goals derived from, but often going beyond, the Saint-Simonian "different but equal" doctrine. The most notable innovation was the proposal that women be elected to public office.
The republic would fail the educators and feminists. The businessmen, the economists, the "official" (and anti-republican) Saint-Simonians would triumph on December 2, 1851 when "the fine flower of finance gathered chez Rothschild rejoicing in the good humor of the officers, the readiness of the soldiery, the indifference of the affiche readers, the tranquility of Paris, despite its surprise awakening." December 1, 1851 ushered into power the author of that essentially Saint-Simonian tract L'extinction du pauperisme and with him Saint-Simonian finance, Le Crédit Mobilier, renewed railway construction. 1848 proved to be the canal through which Saint-Simonian ideas would flow to feed the fountains of the Fête Impériale. That Fête Impériale was, perhaps, a more authentic expression of Saint-Simonianism than was the revolution of 1848.
Robert B. Carlisle
d'Allemagne, Henry René. Prosper Enfantin et les Grandes entreprises du XIXième Siècle. Paris, 1935.
Autin, Jean. Les freres Pereire: Le bonheur d'entreprendre. Paris, 1984.
Carlisle, Robert B. The Saint-Simonians and the Foundation of the Paris-Lyon Railroad. Ann Arbor University Microfilms, 1957.
_______. The Proffered Crown. Baltimore, 1987.
Charléty, Sebastien. L'histoire du Saint-Simonisme. Paris, 1896.
Moses, Claire Goldberg. French Feminism in the Nineteenth Century. Albany, N.Y. 1984.
Walch, Jean. Michel Chevalier, économiste Saint-Simonien. Paris, 1975.
jgc revised this file (http://www.ohiou.edu/~chastain/rz/sanmoni.htm) on October 26, 2004.
Please E-mail comments or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
© 1998, 2004 James Chastain.