Chronology from Le Maitron of key dates in French labour history
Author: Stéphane Sirot, additional material by Michel Cordillot, René Lemarquis and Claude Pennetier with Steve Jefferys (italicised)
February 14-15 Anticlerical and anti-Bourbon riots take place in Paris after a Legitimist commemoration of the murder of the Duke de Berry at the Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois church opposite the Louvre. This was occupied by republican demonstrators who then marched on the Archbishop’s palace near Notre Dame, pillaging and wrecking it. These riots were followed later in provincial France.
March 2 Republican riots break on in Paris after the acquittal of prisoners charged with infringing restrictions on press freedom. Protesting workers march on the Palais Royal, the Louvre and on the Town Hall. The Russians eventually take Warsaw on September 8.
March 9 Republicans riot in Paris on hearing the false news that the Russians had seized Warsaw. The windows of the Russian Embassy were stoned and the crowd sang the Marseillaise.
March – June Demonstrations take place against the introduction of machines in factories in Nantes, Saint-Étienne, Bordeaux and Le Havre.
April 6-10 Trial of 19 republican members of the Friends of the People Society, including Godefroi Cavaignac, arrested during the December 1830 riots. They are all acquitted by the jury on April 15/16, giving rise to several working class demonstrations.
April 9-12 Riots of Lyon silk workers (canuts).
May 5 A Bonapartist demonstration takes place at the Place Vendome on the anniversary of Napoleon’s death.
June Serious rioting in the Saint-Denis district resulting from the tough economic situation. The repression was very severe with many victims.
June 1 The Philanthropic Society of Parisian Working Tailors is established.
July 14 Working class riots. Republican attempt is made to plant an Equality Tree in the Place de la Bastille, at the Pantheon, in the Place de Grève and in the Place de la Concorde. The more than 1,500 demonstrators are dispersed by police dressed in disguise as workers. The publication Au Peuple is seized.
September 7 1,500 textile workers organise a demonstration, followed by riots in Paris that don’t end until September 17.
October The Saint-Simonian manifesto is published with a big propaganda campaign in the provinces.
October 30 The first issue of the Factory Echo (L’Écho de la Fabrique) appears in Lyon.
November 14 Philipon draws and then publishes a cartoon of King Louis-Philippe as a pear. He is charged with ‘insulting behaviour towards the king’ and sentenced to six months in prison and a 2,000 francs fine.
November 20-22 The Lyon silk workers revolt; the negotiations conducted by the prefect fail; an insurrection takes place. Hard repression led by Marshal Soult with 10,000 troops takes place and the revolt finally ends on December 3.
December 15 Daumier‘s cartoon of Louis-Philippe Gargantua is published in La Caricature.
January 10-12. Trial of “The Fifteen” leaders of the SAP (Societe des Amis du Peuple). The accused (Auguste Blanqui, Bonnias, François, Guillaume Gervais, François-Vincent Raspail, Antony Thouret) defend themselves; they are found guilty and sentenced on 27 February, Blanqui was sentenced to a year in prison. The SAP was officially dissolved but it continued its activities.
February. Several newspapers are put on trial. A workers’ commission is set up within the SAP made up of Auguste Caunes senior, Gaussuron-Despréaux, François Sugier). Pierre Leroux and Jean Reynaud take over editorship of the Revue encyclopédique, organ of the neo-Saint-Simonians
February 6 The first cholera epidemic victim dies in Paris.
February 23 Daumier is sentenced to six months in prison and fined 500 francs for his Gargantua cartoon.
March 29. Official announcement of a cholera epidemic in Paris.
April 1 Revolt by prisoners at Sainte-Pélagie, supported by several sections of the SAP. One death. A protest by Parisian chiffoniers (rag collectors) begins against the official collection of refuse introduced by the authorities to try to halt the spread of cholera.
April 20 Leroux’s newspaper Le Globe ceases publication.
End April. Commissions for the Rights of Man are set up within the Friends of the People Society (SAP).
May 16 The banker, mine owner and President of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister) since March 13 1831, Casimir Perier, dies of cholera. He had visited ill patients in Paris’ principal hospital next to Notre-Dame, the Hotel Dieu. A conservative right-winger who had tried to keep Charles X in power he had accepted the position of prime minister only after Louis-Philippe had agreed to allow him to have more freedom of manoeuvre in government than the king.
June 1 Jean-Maximilien Lamarque dies of cholera at his house in the Rue St Honore. Promoted to General by Bonaparte in 1801, he again served with him during the Hundred Days of 1815. Exiled until 1818, he supported the liberal opposition to Louis XVIII and then Charles X. Elected a deputy in 1828, he reluctantly accepted the July Monarchy. His reputation was as someone who had fought both for the Republic and the Empire.
June 2 A large gathering of members of the Friends of the People (SAP) takes place at the funeral of the 20-year-old republican who posthumously become known as one of France’s leading mathematicians, Évariste Galois. He had been mortally wounded in a duel, and was buried in Montparnasse Cemetery.
June 5-6. Popular insurrection in Paris on the occasion of the funeral of General Lamarque. The last group of insurgents fight heroically around the cloisters of Saint-Merri in the Rue de St Martin. Casualities are very heavy: at least 150 are killed on the side of the insurgents, more than 400 are wounded and more than 1,500 arrested; 134 deaths and 326 wounded on the side of the police. A state of siege is declared in Paris that lasts until June 29.
Summer. Birth of the Society for the Rights of Man (SDH).
August 15 The first issue of La Femme libre (the Free Woman) appears. It was an answer by working class women to the Saint-Simonian ‘silence’ on the women’s question imposed by Prosper Enfantin. ‘Written and published by women’ from No. 17 Rue du Caire, it only gives the first names of one founder and one editor, .Jeanne-Désirée (Véret-Gay) and Marie-Reine (Guindorf). One other name appears in the single article in the first issue, that of Jeanne-Victoire (Deroin), a washerwoman who had become a teacher. Thirty-one issues of the paper appear until it ceases publication in 1834.
August 27-28 Trial of the Saint-Simonians in the Court of Assizes in Paris for organising an illegal association and of publishing material offensive to public morality. Prosper Enfantin, Michel Chevalier and Charles Duveyrier are sentenced to one year in prison. Enfantin and Chevalier are imprisoned in Sainte-Pelagie on December 15.
23-31 October. Trial of the 22 charged with fighting on the barricade at cloisters of Saint-Merri. Charles Jeanne, who had been awarded the July 1830 decoration for his part in that insurrection, told the court he took full responsibility for his actions. He was sentenced to be deported, but instead, after being moved successively between various prisons he died in 1837.
November-December. Several groups of Saint-Simoniant missionaries (forty people altogether) leave Paris for Lyon to build a ‘workers peaceful army’.
15 December. Opening of the trial of “The Association of Rights” against the SAP. The SAP is definitively dissolved, but the acquittal of the accused enables it to survive for some time.
25 January. La Tribune publishes the list of five great “patriotic” associations in Paris, into which the SAP and the SDH dissolve. Apart from the society “The sky helps him who helps himself,” rather far from the workers movement, the others, the associations for free public education and for the freedom of the press, played a considerable part.
1st February. Imprisoned in Sainte-Pélagie, Laponneraye publishes her Lettre aux prolétaires. It wil be followed by Deuxième lettre aux prolétaires dated 26 March. (The first of these letters will see the author be condemned on 27 June following).
20 May. Insurrection of the miners of Anzin.
July. Publication of the newspaper of Étienne Cabet, Le Populaire.
September-October. Reorganization of the SDH with the extreme left predominant, after several months of internal conflicts between the “Girondists” (with Francois, Vincent Raspail) and “Montagnards” (with Napoleon Lebon). Within the Society, a Propaganda Committee in charge of education and organisation of workers, is founded. It gathers Neo-Babouvists like Napoleon Lebon, Buonarroti and Marc Voyer d’Argenson, as well as workers like the tailor Alphonse Grignon and shoemaker Z Efrahem. Several of its members will be imprisoned in November as “instigators of combinations of workmen.” Important movements of the carpenters in Paris, tailors (who create a “national workshop” to provide work for the strikers), shoemakers and bakers. Creation of a Lyons section of the SDH. The SDH publishes its “Manifesto” in the La Tribune. Publication of Reflections of a Tailor by Alphonse Grignon, and On the Association of Workers of all Trades by Z Efrahem.
1st October. Creation of the Philanthropic Society of Tailors in Nantes. It will play an important part in the creation of a network of correspondents from Brittany to Bordeaux, as in Marseille. The Philanthropic Society of Tailors in Nantes is destroyed on 20 February 1837.
11-12 December. “Trial of the 27” (leaders of the SDH) accused of having planned a riot in July, marking the third anniversary of the “Three Glorious Days.”
Founding of the Association of Goldsmiths, which will continue to exist until 1873.
January. Law prepressing town criers.
February. Strike of Mutualist workers in Lyon, following a reduction in wages. The general strike will last approximately 10 days.
2 February. The first and only number of Libérateur, journal of Auguste Blanqui.
22 February. Following the strike of Mutualist workers in Lyon, adoption of a law prohibiting associations organised in branches of less than 20 persons.
9-14 April. Insurrection, initially of workers in Lyon and Saint-Étienne, and of a diverse character in Arbois, Épinal, Lunéville, Chalon, Grenoble, Vienne, Clermont-Ferrand, Marseille, Toulon. On the 11th, in Lyon, massacre in rue Projetée. On the 12th, in Paris, the arrest of 150 republicans, including the leaders of the SDH. La Tribune cannot appear. On the 14th, in Paris, massacre in rue Transnonain. In Paris as elsewhere, riots are quickly repressed and casualities are very heavy: more than 300 dead and 600 wounded in Lyon, scores dead in Paris; 2,500 arrested, of which half are in Paris, more than 2,300 charged.
10 April. Passing of law on associations, which requires official approval for associations split into branches of less than 20 persons.
June-September. Disorders and revolts in Sainte-Pélagie.
July-August. Creation of the Société des Familles by Hadot-Desages.
8 October. Publication of the first number of Réformateur of François, Vincent Raspail.
11 October. La Tribune reappears.
6 February. Members of the Cour des Pairs sign arrest warrants for more than 420 persons. The defense organised itself. Parisians appoint a committee (Godefroy Cavaignac, Guinard, Auguste Blanqui, Vignerte.), the Lyonnais another (Baune, Lagrange, Caussidière..). Dissension between those which preach a traditional defense (Jules Favre, Ledru-Rollin) and those who want instead to build a movement. On 17 April the list of the defenders chosen by the defendants appears in the press.
5 May. First session of the “April Trial”: after the withdrawal of charges, according to the Tableau drawn up by Caussidière and the Inventaire, 164 insurgents of April 1834 (including 87 Lyoneses) will appear before the Cour des Pairs. Defendants meet at Auguste Blanqui’s place.
8 May. Publication of the defendants’ protest.
11 May. Publication of the Lettre des défenseurs aux accusés d’April.
29 May-4 June. Trial of the defendants before the Chamber of Peers. They are convicted: Ulysse Trélat very severely, Michel de Bourges a little less, and some others.
12 July. Escape of at least 25 prisoners from Sainte-Pélagie.
28 July. Fieschi’s arrest.
3-8 August. First trial for the production of explosives (Eustache Beaufour).
13 August. Judgment of the Cour des Pairs on those accused in Lyon (72 convictions).
9 September. Law of September. Freedom of the press if forcefully restricted and it is made an offence to declare oneself a republican.
7 and 28 December. Judgment of the Cour des Pairs on those accused in Lunéville, Saint-Étienne, Grenoble, Marseille, Arbois and Besançon (25 convictions).
23 January. End of the “April” trial. 40 Parisians are condemned.
30 January-15 February. Trial of Fieschi.
19 February. Execution of Fieschi, Pépin, Morey.
8 March. Discovery of the “Explosives Conspiracy”; Armand Barbès and d’Auguste Blanqui arrested on the 11th.
25 June-11 July. Arrest, trial, execution of Alibaud.
2-10 August. “Explosives Conspiracy Trial.” Armand Barbès and Auguste Blanqui sentenced to prison.
17-23 October. “Explosives Conspiracy Trial” appeal. The majority of the setences are confirmed.
April-July. Inflammatory post campaign, with 7 proclamations from the “Printworks of the Republic,” the first being entitled Au Peuple. Arrests (Antoine Fomberteaux). Reorganization of the Société des Familles is reorganised under the name of “Pelotons” and launches publication of the Moniteur républicain.
8 May. Amnesty to mark the marriage of the Duc d’Orléans, but missing or escaped prisoners are excluded.
June. “Les Saisons” replaces the “Familles.”
November. First number of the Moniteur républicain, dated “3 Frimaire year XLVI” according to the Republican calendar The 8th and last number is published in July.
8 November. Discovery of a plot against the King (Aloys Huber, Laure Grouvelle, convicted in May 1838).
August-September. Publication of four numbers of L’Homme libre, followed by the arrest of the printers (Eugène Fomberteaux, Jean-Baptiste Guillemin, Lecomte Minor). Trial in June 1839, accompanied by a new publication which is swiftly repressed (Joseph Béchet, Stanilas Vilcoq, trial in November 1839).
12-13 May. Attempted insurrection by Armand Barbès, Martin Bernard, Auguste Blanqui and the Société des Saisons. Barbès, woundd, is arrested; the other two manage to elude the police, until 21 June and 14 October respectively. There were 77 killed and at least 51 wounded on the side of the insurgents, 28 and 62 on the other side. More than 750 are brought to trial.
11 June-12 July. Trial of the first group of the May insurgents (19 accused). Faithful to the traditions carbonarists and of the secret societies, Armand Barbès and Martin Bernard refuse to defend themselves. Bernard is condemned to deportation and Barbès to death. Without his knowledge, his sister obtains from the king, the commutation of his sentence to life imprisonment, commuted again to deportation on 31 December.
14 October. Arrest of Auguste Blanqui and five of his comrades. Charges against the five others will not be pursued.
November. The Saint-simonist workers (Jules Vinçard, L.-J. Vannostal, …) create La Ruche populaire with the Fourierists (H. Fugère, …) and the “Democrats” (J. Gilland, …) who successively withdraw. Publication will be stopped in 1842, before being continued again by L’Union from 1843 to 1846.
28 November. Explosion d’une machine infernale (Pierre Béraud).
December. Formation of Nouvelles saisons (Henri Dourille, Lucien Delahodde).
January. First edition (without the name of the author) of Voyage en Icarie by Étienne Cabet, giving birth to the Icarian communist movement, which will become more and more extensive until the decision to leave to found a Communist colony in Texas is taken at the end of 1847. Formation of the “Egalitarian Workers,” a neo-Babouvist communist tendency.
13-31 January. Trial of the second group of May 1839 revolutionaries (34 accused). Like Armand Barbès and Martin Bernard, Auguste Blanqui refuses to defend himself. Condemned to death on 31 January, on the intervention of his wife, and without his knowledge, like Barbès, on 1st February his sentence is commuted to deportation. He will join Barbès and the others in Mont-Saint-Michel.
27 April. Amnesty for missing and escaped prisoners, not amnestied in May 1837 (Godefroy Cavaignac, Édouard Colombat, …).
11 May. Message from the French Socialists to the Congress of English Socialists.
June. P.J. Proudhon launches his celebrated maxim: “Property is theft.” Beginning of important strike movement by boy-tailors, which becomes extensive during the following months and extends to other branches of industry (Henri Troncin).
1st July. Communist banquet in Belleville of which J.-J. Pillot is the principal organiser. Anxious, the government scours all France in pursuit of militant revolutionaries.
Beginning of September. Almost 30,000 workers are on strike; more than 400 arrests.
September. Publication of the journal L’Atelier, written entirely by workers. It will appear until July 1850. Publication of Louis Blanc’s L’Organisation du travail, and it will see nine editions up to 1850. This material will cause furious debate, which will continue thorughout the Second Republic.
15 October. Darmès’s attack on Louis-Philippe. The trial will bring to light the existence of secret societies of communists.
14 March. Launch of the Populaire of Étienne Cabet.
22 March. Law limiting child labour in factories. Children under the age of eight are forbidden to work, limitation of the working day to 8 hours for 8-12-year-olds and 12 hours for 12-16-year-olds. Night work (9pm-5am) is forbidden for children under 12 years, and for all ages, 2 hours counts as three.
May. Richard La Hautière launches the journal La Fraternité.
July. Publication of L’Humanitaire, a materialist-communist journal (J. Gay, J.-J. May, Page, …).
1st August. Beginning of publication of the Fourierist journal La Démocratie pacifique.
13 September. Quénisset’s attack on the Duc d’Aumale. His trial will be turned into a trial of the Société des Travailleurs égalitaires.
October. Following the publication of a petition by M. Carles et Mme Augusta Carles, sister of Armand Barbès, written by Fulgence Girard with the agreement of Auguste Blanqui and other prisoners, a press campaign begins on behalf of the political prisoners (Journal du Peuple, Le National, later La Réforme), which will culminate with debate in the Chamber of Deputies.
1st November. Creation of the Revue indépendante (Pierre Leroux, George Sand).
November. Publication of Théodore Dezamy’s Code de la Communauté, the most advanced theoretical work of French Communism of the period.
December. Resurgence of unemployment. 150 000 Parisian workers are unemployed.
End May. Publication of the first edition of Flora Tristan’s L’Union ouvrière de. Close to the ideas of Fouriersists and especially the Owenites, she made contact with a large number of workers (Jules Vinçard, Agricol Perdiguier …). Flora Tristan was active preparing for a Tour of France destined to popularise her project to set up local circles of the L’Union ouvrière. Exhausted, she died at Bordeaux in November 1844.
5 July. Tocqueville’s report on the prisons, favourable to solitary confinement.
10 July. The Parisian Typographers’ Society, created in 1839, and the print employers chamber sign the first wage agreement, the first true collective agreement.
29 July. Creation of La Réforme (Auguste Ledru-Rollin).
February-December. The press campaign in support of political prisoners intensifies and is prolonged until December, buoyed by debates in the Chamber around the prison laws. (April-May).
31 March. Beginning of the miners’ strike in Rive-de-Gier (Loire), lasting more than two months, against working conditions imposed by the company. It is a failure.
14 August-18 October. French forces defeat the Algerians at the Battle of Isly and to celebrate and counter the unpopularity of his foreign policy, especially his visit with the Queen of England, Louis-Philippe grants the political prisoners pardons (remise de peine – which does not constitute an amnesty and deprives them of the possibility of recovering their full rights as citizens), while putting it about that an amnesty will be proclaimed at the time of the marriage of the duc d’Aumale. Armand Barbès, Martin Bernard, Auguste Blanqui and some 32 others are excluded from the pardon.
9 December. Auguste Blanqui, transferred since 18 March to Tours, where he remains in hospital, is given a pardon. He refuses it and it is never ratified by the royal court.
29 December. Creation in Paris of Conciliation Boards for the metals and related industries.
January. La Réforme launches “The Workers’ Petition” in the workshops of Paris.
9 January. Publication of the Le Fraternité in Paris, (Brige, then later on Savary, Mallarmé, etc).
9 June. Beginning of a strike of the Parisian carpenters for wage increases. For the first time, the military are placed at the disposal of the employers.
30 March. Demonstration of workers in Saint-Étienne, repressed by the troop: six dead.
22 May. Demonstration of clothing workers at Elbeuf for the destruction of machines which are causing unemployment.
July. Théodore Dezamy dissolves the Communistes égalitaires. The following year there are efforts to continue it.
August. New economic crisis approaching a food shortage.
30 September. Demonstration in the suburb of Saint-Antoine against increases in the price of bread; troops intervene. The rioters are to be imprisoned.
21-23 November. Grain riots in Tours, to be followed by the arrest of members of the workers’ unions (Jean-François Béasse, Étienne Bonnin, Pierre Boucher, Louis Desmoulins, Eugene Vieillefond).
13-14 January. Peasant riots in Buzançais (Indre); the crowd puts to death a landowner who had killed a rioter. Three rioters will be tried and executed on 16 April.
26-29 April. The trial at Blois. Blanqui is acquitted but refuses to be set free. He will remain in Blois until February 25, 1848.
8 June. Proclamation of the preliminary opposition of the Peasant banquets.
27 June. Riots caused by the raising of prices of the bread in Mulhouse; repressed by troops; there are several deaths.
9 July. First reformist banquet in Paris.
31 August-7 September. Popular riots in rue Saint-Honoré in Paris.