Republican Moment

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Overview

France in the mid-nineteenth century was shaken by a surge of civic activism, the "resurrection of civil society." But unlike similar developments throughout Europe, this civic mobilization culminated in the establishment of democratic institutions. How, Philip Nord asks, did France effect a successful transition from Louis-Napoleon's authoritarian Second Empire to a functioning republic based on universal suffrage and governed by middle-class parliamentarians? How did French civic activism take this democratic turn?

Nord provides the answers in a multidimensional narrative that encompasses not only history and politics but also religion, philosophy, art, literature, and gender. He traces the advance of democratic sentiment and the consolidation of political dissent at its strategic institutional sites: the lodges of Freemasonry, the University, the Paris Chamber of Commerce, the Protestant and Jewish consistories, the Paris bar, and the arts. It was the particular character and unfolding of these struggles, Nord demonstrates, that made an awakening middle class receptive to democratic politics. The new republican elite was armed with a specific vision that rallied rural France--a vision of solidarity and civic-mindedness, of moral improvement, and of a socioeconomic order anchored in family enterprise.

Nord's trenchant analysis explains how and why the Third Republic (1870-1940) endured longer than any other regime since the 1789 revolution. The convergence of republican currents at midcentury bequeathed to the French nation a mature civil society, a political elite highly trained in the arts of democratic politics, and an agenda that encompassed not only constitutional reform but also a reformation of private life and public culture.

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Editorial Reviews

History

This first-rate book should be read by all students of the Third French Republic as well as all serious students of modern democratic politics. Nord has upheld his reputation in this excellent book as one of this country's most outstanding social historians of the politics of the Third Republic.
— Eric Arnold, Jr.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History

This well-written book offers a convincing and original approach to understanding the birth of democracy in nineteenth-century France; it also makes a vital contribution to democratic transition theory in the modern, global context.
— Elinor A. Accampo

International Review of Social History [UK]

This book is a valuable history of associative movements in France and their role in politics, a largely uncharted area of historiography. As a pioneer study, it concurs with the re-evaluation and possibly the rehabilitation of the Empire—a new tendency in French historiography.
— Danielle Tartakowsky

Choice
Rather than viewing the Third French Republic as a failure from a 1940 perspective, Nord explores elegantly and convincingly the dynamic roles of institutions and associations that claimed a public sphere in the transition to a democratic Republic from the authoritarian Second Empire...An excellent study, meticulously researched, with supportive illustrations and rich bibliographic footnotes. Highly recommended.
History - Eric Arnold
This first-rate book should be read by all students of the Third French Republic as well as all serious students of modern democratic politics. Nord has upheld his reputation in this excellent book as one of this country's most outstanding social historians of the politics of the Third Republic.
Journal of Interdisciplinary History - Elinor A. Accampo
This well-written book offers a convincing and original approach to understanding the birth of democracy in nineteenth-century France; it also makes a vital contribution to democratic transition theory in the modern, global context.
International Review of Social History [UK] - Danielle Tartakowsky
This book is a valuable history of associative movements in France and their role in politics, a largely uncharted area of historiography. As a pioneer study, it concurs with the re-evaluation and possibly the rehabilitation of the Empire--a new tendency in French historiography.
History
This first-rate book should be read by all students of the Third French Republic as well as all serious students of modern democratic politics. Nord has upheld his reputation in this excellent book as one of this country's most outstanding social historians of the politics of the Third Republic.
— Eric Arnold, Jr.
Journal of Interdisciplinary History
This well-written book offers a convincing and original approach to understanding the birth of democracy in nineteenth-century France; it also makes a vital contribution to democratic transition theory in the modern, global context.
— Elinor A. Accampo
International Review of Social History [UK]
This book is a valuable history of associative movements in France and their role in politics, a largely uncharted area of historiography. As a pioneer study, it concurs with the re-evaluation and possibly the rehabilitation of the Empire--a new tendency in French historiography.
— Danielle Tartakowsky
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674762725
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/29/1998
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 0.70 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 9.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Nord is Professor of History, Princeton University, and the author of Paris Shopkeepers and the Politics of Resentment.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Civil Society

Freemasonry

The Latin Quarter

Commercial Politics

Jewish Republicanism

Liberal Protestantism

The Republic of Lawyers

The New Painting

Political Culture

The Middle-Class Interior

Conclusion: In Defense of the Republic

Notes

Acknowledgments

Index

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