This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

A Manifesto of Impossibilities? Workers, Politics, and the History of the Luxembourg Commission, February-May 1848




Hewer, Jason

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis




The Luxembourg Commission was the response of the provisional government of France during the Revolution of 1848 to demands by workers of Paris that the government do something to help alleviate the harsh conditions under which they labored. The Commission was a step short of the full government ministry of progress that many workers called for. However, during the few months it existed, the Luxembourg Commission gave impetus to grassroots workers’ organization and successfully began to act as an arbitrator in disputes between workers and bosses. The elections of April 1848 were disastrous for worker candidates, and the Commission itself winked out of existence in May. Workers’ frustration led to them storming the National Assembly and successfully suspending it on May 15. An analysis of May 15 shows how volatile the allegiances of the National and Mobile Guards were on the day. Both the Luxembourg Commission and the journée of May 15 were sidelined in histories of the Revolution written during the nineteenth century because these items did not support the political narrative of the authors of these histories. This thesis will make the case for the re-inclusion of the Luxembourg Commission as an important topic of study in the history of 1848 as a social revolution.