Coda and Conclusion

The Failure of 1848: Bourgeois Social Capital at the Crossroads
  • Ralph Kingston
Part of the War, Culture and Society, 1750–1850 book series (WCS)


In 1860, a group of middle-aged men met in the Grand Véfour, the famous Parisian restaurant in the Palais Royal. The luxury of the restaurant was matched by its exquisite dinner menu, from which the men could have chosen among dishes like ‘Salmon in Hollandaise and Genovese sauce’, ‘Lobster in Aspic in Belle-Vue sauce’, ‘Roast Duckling in Rouennaise sauce’ and ‘Artichoke Thistles in Honey’.1 Eating at one of the best known and most expensive restaurants in Paris was a statement of the men’s social status.2 The act of returning year after year, as these diners did, also pointed to their substantial financial resources. The list of invited guests to the 1860 reunion was most impressive. It included Hippolyte Carnot, former Minister of Public Instruction and son of Lazare Carnot; Alfred Blanche, secretary general of the Ministry of Colonies and Algeria; and Edouard Charton, famous as the director of the Magasin pittoresque and L’Illustration.3


Social Capital Cultural Capital Office Politics Social Politics French Citizen 
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  1. 4.
    Antony Rouilliet, Lettres sur l’Ecole d’administration (Paris, 1876), 21–24. These students were, on average, more successful in their careers than the graduates of any of the other state grandes écoles: M.R. Grégoire, ‘Une tentative saint-simonienne: l’Ecole d’administration de 1848’, Revue politique et parlementaire (November 1948), 267.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    Howard Machin and Vincent Wright, ‘Les élèves de l’Ecole nationale d’administration de 1848–1849’, Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine, 36, No. 4 (1989), 607. The first round of exams was hastily organized, and students did not entirely know what to expect. Nevertheless, the maison Dupuy-Cessac on the rue Cassette quickly organized special preparatory courses for candidates: see the advertisement in Tribune des employés (8 May 1848). By the time the school started to recruit a second cohort of students in late 1848, textbooks to help potential students prepare had begun to appear: L. Gallais, Guide des candidats à l’Ecole administration institué près le Collège de France (Paris, 1848); Documents officiels sur l’Ecole d’administration fondée par le gouvernement: ou guide de l’aspirant au titre d’élève du Collège de France (Paris, 1848). On the School, see also George Langrod, ‘L’Ecole d’administration française, 1848–1849’, in Etudes variées du domaine de l’histoire de l’administration publique, I (Milan, 1965), 487–522; Robert J. Smith, ‘The students of the Ecole d’administration, 1848–49’, History of Education, 16, No. 4 (1987), 245–258.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    Henri Boucher, Souvenirs d’un parisien pendant la Seconde République (Paris, 1808), 78–83.Google Scholar
  4. 20.
    C. François, Organisation des fonctions civils attachés aux ministères et aux administrations de l’état. Aux employés ([Paris], 1848), 2.Google Scholar
  5. 28.
    William H. Sewell, Jr., Work and Revolution in France: The Language of Labor from the Old Regime to 1848 (Cambridge, 1980), 263.Google Scholar
  6. 39.
    The most influential text to make this interpretation was, of course, Karl Marx, Class Struggles in France (New York, 1964). It was a crass simplification as historians have subsequently shown: Charles Tilly and Lynn Lees, ‘Le peuple de juin 1848’, Annales ESC, 29, No. 5 (1974), 1061–1092; Tilly and Lees, ‘The People of June, 1848’, in Roger Price, Revolution and Reaction: 1848 and the Second French Republic (London, 1975), 170–209; Mark Traugott, ‘Determinants of Political Orientation: Class and Organization in the Parisian Insurrection of June 1848’, The American Journal of Sociology, 86, No. 1 (1980), 32–49.Google Scholar
  7. 40.
    Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (New York, 1964), 18, 122, 128–129, presented bureaucrats as existing outside of society, ‘a host of officials numbering half a million …, this appalling parasitic body, which enmeshes the body of French society like a net and chokes all its pores’ (18). They were among the winners when the coup d’état of Louis Bonaparte and his ‘adventurers’ made the state independent of social control. Bureaucrats did not figure as a social group at all in Louis Blanc, Révélations historiques en réponse au livre de Lord Normanby, 2 vols (Brussels, 1859).Google Scholar
  8. 41.
    Alexis de Tocqueville, Recollections: the French Revolution of 1848, ed. J.P. Mayer and A.P. Kerr (Brunswick, NJ, 1987), 12–13, 75.Google Scholar
  9. 44.
    Charles Tranchant, Notice sommaire de l’école d’administration de 1848 (Nancy, 1884), 44.Google Scholar
  10. 48.
    Léon Aucoc, Une page de l’histoire du droit administrative: M. Boulatignier (Paris, 1895), 10. AN 4AS/1, invitation to lessons, Tranchant to students, 9 January 1850. Classes began 14 January 1850 at 7.45pm Monday and Friday at No. 12, rue Taranne). Costs would not go above 2fr a month. On his friendship with Tocqueville, see AN 4AS/5, Revue de la cinquantaine par M. Charles Tranchant, ancien conseiller d’etat, président du comité de l’association (Paris, 1899), 11.Google Scholar
  11. 55.
    Pierre Bourdieu, The State Nobility: Elite Schools in the Field of Power, trans. Lauretta C. Clough (Stanford, CA, 1996). See also, James S. Coleman and Thomas Hoffer, Public and Private Schools: the impact of communities (New York, 1987) on how the impact of social and economic disadvantage can be overturned by the cultural capital accrued through attendance at private Catholic schools in the USA.Google Scholar
  12. 56.
    As Christopher Charle has argued, this social elite came into its own during the Third Republic: Christophe Charle, Les élites de la République, 1880–1900 (Paris, 1987). On the impact of the Ecole libre des sciences politiques (founded in 1872 and better known as Sciences po), see also Thomas R. Osborne, A Grand Ecole for the Grands Corps: The Recruitment and Training of the French Administrative Elite in the Nineteenth Century (New York, 1983).Google Scholar
  13. 57.
    Charles Tranchant, Association des anciens élèves de l’Ecole nationale d’administration: revue de la cinquantaine (Paris, 1899).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ralph Kingston 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralph Kingston
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryAuburn UniversityUSA

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