Planning the French Canals: Bureaucracy, Politics, and Enterprise Under the Restoration

Planning the French Canals: Bureaucracy, Politics, and Enterprise Under the Restoration

by Joan M. Byles
     
 

ISBN-10: 0874135273

ISBN-13: 9780874135275

Pub. Date: 12/01/1994

Publisher: University of Delaware Press

The Becquey Program is one of the landmarks of French transport history. Francois Becquey, the politician/bureaucrat who was the director of the Bureau des ponts et chaussees, believed that the canal acts of 1821 and 1822 would finally provide a national network of mainline canals. He expected these canals to stimulate economic development, thereby allowing France to …  See more details below

Overview

The Becquey Program is one of the landmarks of French transport history. Francois Becquey, the politician/bureaucrat who was the director of the Bureau des ponts et chaussees, believed that the canal acts of 1821 and 1822 would finally provide a national network of mainline canals. He expected these canals to stimulate economic development, thereby allowing France to "catch up" with Britain, whose dense canal network was seemingly a necessary condition for its recent triumphs in the marketplace as well as on the battlefield. The Becquey Program has never been studied in detail, yet it is clearly one of the major landmarks in French transportation history. Its history is an opportunity to reexamine two of the oldest and most debated issues in modern French history: the alleged weakness of French economic liberalism and the putative backwardness of the French economy. The story of the Becquey Program also provides insight into the mentality and behavior of the haute banque of Paris, Becquey's own state corps of engineers, and the deputies of the French legislature - three overlapping elements among the emerging elite of notables who dominated political, social, and economic life during the Restoration. Finally, in a comparative framework, the debate over the canals led to an examination of the inadequacy of a British model and to a rehearsal of the arguments about state economic policy that the next generation would revive.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780874135275
Publisher:
University of Delaware Press
Publication date:
12/01/1994
Pages:
338

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations7
Preface9
1Introduction15
The Canal Age in France18
The Belief in Economic Liberalism20
The Concept of Economic Backwardness24
Other Perspectives - Historiography, Railroads, and England28
2The French Canals to 1815: An Ambiguous Tradition32
The Old Regime: From Pioneer to Laggard33
Revolution and Empire: Dreams and Realities49
3Becquey's First Years in Office: Economic Liberalism in Theory and Practice64
Theories of Economic Liberalism in the Early Restoration65
Economic Liberalism at Work in 1817-1877
4Becquey's Men: Proteges and Counselors93
Joseph Michael Dutens and England as Model94
Joseph Louis Etienne Cordier and the Nord as Model99
Barnabe Brisson and the "Etat des depenses"106
5The Report to the King113
Geography: A Network of grandes lignes115
Finances: Ideals and Practicalities128
6Negotiating the Contracts: Bankers and Ministers137
Plot, Scene, and Cast138
The 1821 Contracts144
The 1822 Contracts160
7The Chamber of Deputies in 1821-22: Process, Politics, People171
Politics175
Introduction of the Bills and Reports of the Commissions180
The Debaters: Occupation, Geography, Party185
8Commonalities: Utilite, Esprit d'association. Grandes lignes196
The Utility of a Canal Network: The Language of Advantage196
The Spirit of Association and the English Model: Capitalistes, Speculateurs, Entrepreneurs202
Grandes lignes and Economic Realities: The Layout of the Network213
9Differences: The Financial System220
The Debate over Procedure: The Search for Companies220
The Debate over Terms: The "Onerous" Contracts234
10The Results: Success and Failure of the Becquey Program247
Notes263
Bibliography309
Index329

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