Most studies of the social and political upheavals of the Second Republic treat violence as the main way people resisted the military coup and repression of 1851 and view political dissent through the lens of class. But the suppression of unorthodox political voices in the academy brings another form of resistance to light. Close personal networks and the organizational culture of the French academy distinguished the universitaires' animosity toward Louis Napoleon. To map the patterns of teachers' dissent, I use the proceedings of the Carnot Commission, an organ created by the emergency government of 1870 to gather information about the universitaires who had suffered political persecution around the time of the 1851 coup and offer them restitution. The Commission's work reveals a pattern of personal connections and distaste for authoritarianism that reflected the republican consensus as it emerged in the 1870s.
The Carnot Commission and the Teacher Insurgency of Second Republic France
Tocqueville’s Guizot Moment
Although it is not much mentioned in the scholarly literature, the school shows up as an important motif in both volumes of Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America. Tocqueville distinguished between civic education, which he saw as crucially important to the survival of democracy, and scholastic education, which could threaten it. There is a tension between these educations, which becomes clearer upon noticing Tocqueville's support for the political doctrine of freedom of education, which was so important in French politics during the July Monarchy (1830-1848). The source of this tension lies in Tocqueville's understanding of the American social condition and decentralized administration as being amenable to civic education, while centralized France precluded it. This tension is mediated, the article suggests, by Tocqueville's perception of the essential religiosity of French society.