The National Economy

  • David Thomson
Part of the The Documentary History of Western Civilization book series (DHWC)


As suggested in the Introduction, the development of nineteenth-century France may be seen as the result of two revolutions proceeding simultaneously: the political and the economic. Some of the long-term correlations between the two processes are indicated in the Chronology (at p. 23). The purpose of the present Part is to illustrate some of the basic economic changes in farming, trade, industry, and labor organizations. One of the recurrent themes is the interplay between State actions and social group actions. The paternalist and positive State which existed under Bonapartist rule did not die at Sedan. It persisted in attitudes and expectations, both of public authorities and of ordinary citizens. Had space permitted, many dramatic examples of capitalist enterprise might have been added-the formation of the Crédit mobilier in 1852 and its collapse only fifteen years later, or the Union générale which repeated the story between 1878 and 1881; or the sensational affairs of the Suez and Panama Canals; or the automobile and aviation enterprises between the world wars. Not only are such themes ill-suited to documentary treatment, but also, on the principle that attitudes and modes of action are no less important than formal organizations, more attention has been given to peasant and workers’ activities.


National Economy Penal Code Socialist Party General Council Religious Congregation 
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Copyright information

© David Thomson 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Thomson
    • 1
  1. 1.Sidney Sussex CollegeCambridgeUK

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