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the third republic in france

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Introduction

The Third Republic At the end of the Franco-Prussian war, in September 1870, the French army was defeated at Sedan, and Napoleon III (1852-70) was overthrown. Paris was besieged until January 1871. In February 1871, the New French Assembly elected President Thiers. He repressed the 1871 Paris Commune and was now called "le Liberateur du Territoire". In May 1871, France lost Alsace and Lorraine at the Treaty of Frankfurt imposed by Germany. There were four major crises/problems during the Third Republic: the want of the people for a new monarchy, the Boulanger episode, the Panama Scandal and the Dreyfus Affair. Firstly, I will talk of the increasing support for monarchism. In the first years of the Third Republic, support for a republican form of governing wasn't very high and the Count of Chambord, head of the Bourbon family, descendant to the throne of France was thoroughly gaining friends and followers. He could have established a new monarchy, had he not declared that he didn't wan the tri-colored motif as his flag (he wanted the blazon of the Bourbon family on the French flag). ...read more.

Middle

The conviction was based on a handwritten list (the bordereau) offering access to secret French military information. The list had been retrieved from the waste paper basket of the German military attach´┐Ż, Schwartzkoppen, by a cleaning woman employed by French military counter-intelligence. Dreyfus was suspected because of his Alsatian origins. Furthermore, the writing on the bordereau resembled Dreyfus' own handwriting. Fearing that the right-wing anti-Semitic press would learn of the affair and accuse the Army of covering up for a Jewish officer, the High Command pressed for an early trial and conviction. By the time it realized it had no conclusive evidence against Dreyfus, it was politically impossible to withdraw the prosecution without a scandal bringing down the highest levels of the French Army. The subsequent trial was notable for numerous errors of procedure. For example, the defense was unaware of a secret dossier which the prosecution provided to the military judges. Withholding this dossier from the defense was illegal by French law. Then, it was discovered that an Esterhazy had written the bordereau, but he was acquitted by French military Justice in January 1898 and let go to retire in England with a pension. ...read more.

Conclusion

It had the effect of a bomb. Zola's intent was to force his own prosecution for libel so that the emerging facts of the Dreyfus case could be thoroughly publicised. In this he succeeded. He was convicted, appealed, was retried, and, before hearing the result, fled to England on the advice of his counsel and friends, returning to Paris when he heard that Dreyfus's trial was to be reviewed. In June 1899 the case was reopened, following the uncovering of exonerating evidence by Colonel Picquart. Despite the new evidence presented at his new military trial, Dreyfus was reconvicted in September and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was subsequently pardoned by the President and freed, but would not be formally exonerated until 12 July 1906, when the Court annulled his second conviction. Before this, there was the Panama Scandal. The Panama Scandal was a corruption affair in France in 1893, linked to the building of the Panama Canal. This building of the canal was to be a very prestigious affair that had a lot of publicizing. A million francs were lost when the government took bribes not to tell the public that the Panama Canal Company was in huge financial trouble. This deeply affected the French morale and further damaged the reputation of the politicians. ...read more.

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