In 1789, the "popular movement"
of the working class was a key player in the revolution. This
defend or push forward the 'bourgeois revolution,' yet it had
its own ethos, vision and goals which went beyond those of"
the bourgeois movement (Magraw
The workers' participation in the French Revolution of 1789 was
the starting point for their political action in France.
It was the direct precursor of the worker
groups who participated in the revolutionary upheavels of 1830, 1848, and
- "The French
Revolution, which is nothing more nor less than the ideal armed
with the sword, started to its feet, and by the very movement,
closed the door of evil and opened the door of good. . . . We
may say of it that it created man a second time, in giving him
a second soul, his rights."
--Victor Hugo, Les Miserables,
Saint Denis, Book III
- What 1789 Meant to the Workers
- The Workers Participation in 1789
- The workers, although not an organized
force as they would be after the revolution of 1830, did have
organized ways to participate in the revolutionary politics.
- The sans-culottes
movement was made up of mostly skilled laborers and the lower
class, who wanted direct democracy and equality for all social
- The workers' trade organizations, Compagnonnages, did more than just
organize trade disputes. The compagnonnages spoke out for the
rights of workers.
- The Popular Movement's Relation to
the Later Revolutions
- The Popular Movement of 1789 "was important both for its crucial
role in pushing forward and consolidating the Revolution and
for what it symbolized - a geniune and unprecedented upsurge
in political consciousness and organization of urban workers" (Magraw 18).
The revolution showed the workers their importance in the Political
sphere of France.
- However, the workers were not yet ready
to become political activists. It was their participation in
the revolution, which helped to prepare them for the Revolution
- Frustration of their working environment
caused them to take action in the early 1790s against industrialization.
Though, the working class viewed the machines, not the merchants,
as their enemy. This "would
decline after 1830 as a more sophisticated analysis taught workers
that capitalism per se, not the machine was their enemy" (Magraw 40).
- Though the "Populare Movement"
failed, the memories and myths of the notorious 1789 -1794 era
were too potent and influential to be destroyed, and excited
the next generation into action in 1830.