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France on the threshold of the 20th century
An end to crisis
The Republicans triumphed over the moral order, banished the specter of the return of the monarchy, and got past the Scandal of the DecorationsThe Scandal of the Decorations
Deputy Daniel Wilson was compromised for having trafficked in decorations in return for money. His father-in-law, Jules Grévy, was forced to resign as president of the Republic, taunted by comic songs about « what a shame it is to have a son-in-law »., the Boulangist crisisThe Boulangist Crisis
Former director at the Ministry of War, and then a popular minister in the Freycinet cabinet in 1886, the 49-year-old General Boulanger rallied the Opportunist opponents to the Republic. Forced to retire in 1888, he was elected deputy in four departments and in Paris, before being tried for plotting against the State. Sentenced in absentia to life in prison, he committed suicide in Belgium in 1891, on the grave of his mistress. and the Panama affairThe Panama Scandal
In 1892, legal proceedings were started against various elected officials who had financed newspapers and padded their election funds with money from a company that had been set up to dig a canal in Panama. Ferdinand de Lesseps, who had created the Suez Canal, owned the company. Clemenceau and other members of Parliament were compromised and lost their seats in the 1893 elections.. However, anarchist attacks, the assassination of president Sadi Carnot, and various anti-Republican coup attempts testified to persistent agitation.
In March of 1892, Ravachol threw a bomb into a restaurant; sentenced on 26 April, he was executed on 11 July of the same year. On 8 November 1893, another explosion killed five people in the police station in the Rue des Bons-Enfants; its author, Emile Henry, was arrested in February 1894 following another attack and was guillotined on 5 February 1895. In December 1893, a bomb thrown by Auguste Vaillant into the Chamber of Deputies wounded abbot Lemire, and hastened the promulgation (on the 18th of the same month) of the lois scélérates, which cracked down on the possession of explosives and restricted the 1881 freedom of the press laws.
A persistent struggle
After the Chamber of Deputies attack, president Sadi Carnot let justice take its course. His refusal to pardon Vaillant led to his own assassination at the hands of the anarchist Caserio on 24 June 1894. Before Caserio was guillotined on 16 August of the same year, a second loi scélérate was passed on 28 July, cracking down even harder on anarchist intrigues, thus forcing them into trade union activities.
The presidency of the Republic was weakened by the interruption of four successive seven-year terms-the resignations of Jules Grévy and Casimir-Perier in 1887 and 1895, respectively, the assassination of Carnot, and the death of Félix Faure in 1899. After the election of Emile Loubet, a march on the Elysée failed. The instigator, Paul DéroulèdePaul Déroulède
Déroulède became famous after the publication in 1872 of a collection of patriotic poems, Chants du soldat. He founded the Ligue des Patriotes in 1882, and was elected deputy in 1889. He was a Boulangist who later denounced the parliamentary Panama chéquards, and who attempted to march on the Elysée presidential palace in 1899. For this he was acquitted by a jury in the Court of Assizes, but was sentenced to ten years' banishment by the High Court. He returned from Spain following the general amnesty of 1905., was acquitted by the Seine Court of Assizes on 31 May. However, the Senate, meeting in High Court in January of 1900, sentenced him to be banished for ten years.
The prefect Eugene Poubelle convicted the president of the racing club of Marseilles for offense par regard; after striking President Loubet with his cane at Longchamp on 4 June 1899, Baron Christiani was sentenced to four years in prison. Jules Guérin-another coup d'état enthusiast-was banished after having been given a ten-year sentence for holding the Paris police force at bay outside his Paris headquarters between 12 August and 21 September 1899. The Republicans defended themselves, with support from the administration, the police and the courts.