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Louis Auguste Blanqui

Blanqui, Louis Auguste (lwē ôgüstˈ) [key], 1805–81, French revolutionary and radical thinker. While a student in Paris, he joined (1824) a branch of the Carbonari, a revolutionary secret society; thenceforth he was prominent in every revolutionary upheaval in France until his death. More than half his life was spent in prison. In 1847 he set up the Central Republican Society, which was powerful in the February Revolution of 1848. An exile in Brussels (1865–70), Blanqui organized the extremist opposition against Napoleon III, in whose deposition (Sept. 4, 1870) he was instrumental. The crucial role played by Blanqui and his followers in the expulsion (Oct., 1870) of the moderate government of Paris led his opponents to compromise on a government headed by Adolphe Thiers, and shortly before the proclamation of the Commune of Paris, Thiers had Blanqui arrested. The commune, whose temporary success was largely Blanqui's work, vainly offered its hostages in exchange for Blanqui. He was released in 1879 and was elected a deputy from Bordeaux, although the government did not allow him to serve. His followers, the Blanquists, were eventually absorbed into the unified socialist party. Advocating direct revolutionary action, Blanqui was among the first to conceive of the professional revolutionary.

See R. W. Postgate, Revolution from 1789–1906 (1920) and study by A. Spitzer (1957, repr. 1970).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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