Front Page Titles (by Subject) The Law-Abiding Revolutionary - Collected Works of Bastiat. Vol. 2: The Law, The State, and Other Political Writings, 1843-1850
Return to Title Page for Collected Works of Bastiat. Vol. 2: The Law, The State, and Other Political Writings, 1843-1850
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
The Law-Abiding Revolutionary - Frédéric Bastiat, Collected Works of Bastiat. Vol. 2: The Law, The State, and Other Political Writings, 1843-1850 
The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 2: The Law, The State, and Other Political Writings, 1843-1850, Jacques de Guenin, General Editor. Translated from the French by Jane Willems and Michel Willems, with an introduction by Pascal Salin. Annotations and Glossaries by Jacques de Guenin, Jean-Claude Paul-Dejean, and David M. Hart. Translation Editor Dennis O’Keeffe. Academic Editor, David M. Hart (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2012).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
The Law-Abiding Revolutionary
In a review of a collection of letters Bastiat wrote to the Cheuvreux family, the young economist Gustave de Molinari reminisced about his revolutionary activities with Bastiat in 1848.2 Bastiat was then forty-seven and Molinari twenty-nine. Molinari notes that the February revolution forced the young radical liberals to “replace our economic agitation [for free trade] with a politico-socialist agitation,” which they did on 24 February, the same date that Molinari and a young friend decided to start a new magazine to be called La République. The prime minister at the time, François Guizot, was forced to resign on 23 February, and a provisional government was formed on 26 February. (Thus, Molinari and his friend tried to start their new journal the day after the revolution broke out.) Molinari asked Bastiat if he would join him as co-editor; Bastiat agreed to do so with the understanding that they would abide by the censorship laws, which at the time called for approval by the government before publication took place. Molinari wryly noted that Bastiat told them that “we may be making a revolution but revolutions do not violate the laws!”
The three of them proceeded to the Hôtel de Ville in order to have their hastily written screed approved by the government, but the building was in complete turmoil with armed revolutionaries milling about. They wisely decided that the provisional government was “otherwise occupied,” and Bastiat consented to publish the journal without prior approval. In Montmartre, on their way to the printer, they came across another would-be revolutionary who was hawking a journal that had already taken the name La République—such was the competition at the time for catchy titles. The three decided on the spot to rename their journal La République française and had five thousand copies printed and distributed. Like most periodicals at the time, La République française lasted a very short while, but it did include a number of “striking” articles penned by Bastiat directed at the working class, who were pushing the revolution in an increasingly socialist direction. As Molinari notes, their journal “was decidedly not at the peak of the events” that were swirling about them, and it soon folded.
Undaunted, Molinari and Bastiat decided to launch another journal, this time directed squarely at working people, to be called Jacques Bonhomme, a wordplay on the nickname given to the average working Frenchman. Molinari and Bastiat joined with Charles Coquelin, Alcide Fonteyraud, and Joseph Garnier to launch the new journal in June 1848, just before the June Days uprising (23–26 June). On 21 June the government, because of out-of-control expenses, decided to close the so-called National Workshops, which were a government program to provide state-subsidized employment to unemployed workers. This action was promptly followed by a mass uprising in Paris to protest the decision, and troops were called in to suppress the protesters, causing considerable loss of life. During this time, Bastiat sent Molinari and the editorial committee an article he had written titled “Dissolve the National Workshops!” which appeared on the front page of the very last issue of Jacques Bonhomme.
Jacques Bonhomme seems to have lasted for only four issues (June–July 1848), its lifespan abruptly truncated when Bastiat and his colleagues wisely decided to shut it down because the troops were shooting people in the streets of Paris.
[2. ]Molinari wrote a book review of the collection of letters Bastiat wrote to the Cheuvreux family in Le Journal des économistes. See Molinari, “Frédéric Bastiat: Lettres d’un habitant des Landes.”