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Marrast, Marie-Francois-Pascal-Armand

Marrast, Marie-Francois-Pascal-Armand, born, St. Gaudens, Haute Garonne, 1801; died Paris, 1852. Early in the revolution Armand Marrast was significant for precipitating events which had radical consequences that he neither foresaw nor desired. As editor of the republican Le National, he planned the mass procession of February 22, but drew back when Guizot banned the march. He was then taken by surprise when committed revolutionaries proceeded with the demonstration and ultimately overthrew Louis Philippe. On February 25 he joined opposition leaders who invaded the chamber of deputies to promote the regency of the Duchesse of Orleans; but was overwhelmed by other intruders who clamored for a republic and then carried him along to the Hôtel de Ville where, under pressure from supporters of Le National, he was named to the provisional government.

Marrast subsequently compensated for his earlier impetuousness and vacillation by casting himself as a shrewd and eloquent defender of the social status quo. Within the provisional government he vociferously opposed the plans of Louis Blanc and Albert for government-guaranteed employment. Named mayor of Paris on March 9 he championed the interests of landlords against the demands of the poor for lower rents; successfully manoeuvred to prevent the recruitment of large numbers of working people into the national guard; and organized a municipal police which kept leftists under surveillance and cooperated with other armed forces in suppressing the riots of May 15 and the worker uprising in June.

The elections of April 23 thrust him into a position of leadership among the 300-odd deputies who subscribed to the moderate republicanism of Le National, and he used his ascendancy to win considerable power in the constituent assembly. The spokesman for the committee on the constitution, he was also elected speaker, in which capacity he proclaimed the enactment of the constitution on November 19, and swore in Louis Napoleon as president on December 20.

In 1848 Marrast revealed that he was not only less radical but less principled than he had seemed as a liberal Bohemian critic of the July Monarchy. The combined monthly salary of 2400 francs which he received during the spring as mayor of Paris and member of the provisional government shocked the frugal. By late summer the offices of Le National had become notorious as a place where government offices were handed out.

In 1849 the chastened voters of Haute-Garonne, more impressed apparently by Marrast's republicanism and opportunism than by his services to the cause of order, did not elect him to the legislative assembly. He then withdrew from public life and died in modest and relatively obscure circumstances some three months after Louis Napoleon's coup d'état of 1851.

Marvin R. Cox


Ambert, Portraits republicains: Armand Carrel, Godefroy Cavaignac, Armand Marrast. (Paris, 1870).

Claude Bellanger, Jacques Godechot, Pierre Guiral, et Fernand Terron. Histoire générale de la presse française. 3 vols. (Paris, 1969), II.

Irene Collins, The Government and the Newspaper Press in France. (London, 1959).

Daniel Stern (comtesse d'Agoult), Histoire de la Révolution de 1848. 3 vols. (Paris, 1850-53).

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