By Susan K. Foley, Charles Sowerwine (auth.)
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Extra info for A Political Romance: Léon Gambetta, Léonie Léon and the Making of the French Republic, 1872–82
I say Friday deliberately so as not to deprive you of the political soirée on Saturday. Tell me which day do you prefer? Don’t feel obliged to say the first out of politeness. I believe firmly in your present tenderness. As for that of the future, la Rochefoucault [sic] says: ‘We can no more vouch for the duration of our feelings than for that of our life’. I spent three hours in Paris on Wednesday, I saw my doctor and put to him the question that occupied us last Saturday. Is the heart an organ or a muscle?
Gambetta was one of the recognized republican figures who stepped in to direct the popular uprising that followed. He became Minister of the Interior in the new ‘Government of National Defence’. As the French armies surrendered and Prussian forces put Paris under siege, Gambetta took a balloon flight to Tours in an attempt to rally the country for further efforts against the enemy. Not only did he manage to land successfully behind enemy lines, but he also managed to raise a new army of 100,000 men.
48 ‘I want you to devote yourself to the Republic’ 41 Léon here alluded to divisions amongst the republicans that had a long history. Republicanism in France had its origins in revolutionary politics, in the popular uprisings of 1792 and 1848. The proclamation of the Third Republic in 1870 in the wake of the Emperor’s defeat placed it in the same tradition, and the Paris Commune of 1871 highlighted its radical potential. But Gambetta was at pains to transform the image of republicanism, to sever its links with violence and highlight the virtues of ‘honest and true Democracy’.
A Political Romance: Léon Gambetta, Léonie Léon and the Making of the French Republic, 1872–82 by Susan K. Foley, Charles Sowerwine (auth.)