In France itself, the February Revolution's radical socialist changes were doomed from the start. Outside of Paris, the people in the countryside (the majority of France) were much more conservative than the workers in the city, and were generally anti-socialist. After the Paris reformers went beyond what the country was willing to accept, it was only a matter of time before their revolutionary changes were reversed. Furthermore, by 1848 France had had so many governments in the past 50 years that new governments were easy to bring down. This was very much unlike Britain, whose government had been so stable for so long that discontented people were hesitant to overthrow it, merely because it had such a long tradition behind it. In Britain, reforms would pass gradually within the system rather than by violent rebellions.

Regarding the Paris barricades, it is interesting to note that an angry mob of civilians really could stand up against the French army. Today, in the age of tanks, civilians have no real hope fighting against tanks, bombs, and rocket- launchers. In 1848, however, there were no tanks, and the army's victory over the Paris mob was no sure thing. Throughout Europe, rulers were tremendously frightened by the revolution in Paris. To many in the upper classes, it seemed as though civilization itself might be crumbling.

Louis Napoleon appealed to the "Napoleon Legend" that was starting to take force in France around this time. In 1836, the Arch-de-Triumph had been completed, and in 1840, Napoleon's remains had been brought back to France from Saint Helena. All France now remembered Napoleon as a great hero, and Louis Napoleon cashed in on his family's "name recognition" to gain control of France. With Napoleon's assumption

Popular pages: Europe (1815-1848)