Journal Article

Industry, Class and Society: A Historiographic Reinterpretation of Michel Chevalier

Michael Drolet

in The English Historical Review

Volume CXXIII, issue 504, pages 1229-1271
Published in print October 2008 | ISSN: 0013-8266
Published online October 2008 | e-ISSN: 1477-4534 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ehr/cen252
Industry, Class and Society: A Historiographic Reinterpretation of Michel Chevalier

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The nineteenth century engineer, economist and politician Michel Chevalier was one of France's most controversial and celebrated figures. He was a visionary who is today almost solely remembered for having negotiated with Richard Cobden the Anglo-French Commercial treaty of 1860. In his day, Chevalier moved from being one of the fiercest critics of France's political establishment to one of its most ardent defenders. As editor-in-chief of the Saint-Simonian movement's newspaper, Le Globe, Chevalier forged much of that movement's economic thinking. Once he broke with the movement he continued to espouse economic ideas that were distinctive within the liberal credo he embraced; these ideas became central to the policies of the Second Empire, with Chevalier serving as one of Napoleon III's chief economic advisors and a distinguished member of the Council of State. This article aims to retrieve Chevalier's writings from their comparative neglect and to correct a number of imbalances in the interpretations surrounding his work. It compares and contrasts his writings with those of liberals with whom he is now most often associated, the contributors to the Journal des Économistes, and challenges the current, and meagre, historiography on Chevalier by revealing the extent to which his thought was distinctive and profoundly original.

Journal Article.  20927 words. 

Subjects: British History ; World History ; European History ; International History

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