The Monetary Crisis 1848

The Sydney Morning Herald Friday 14 July 1848


Paris, Wednesday Evening.—The monetary crisis is still the great subject of doubt and anxiety here, and hitherto there ate no signs of improvement. A report is entrent to-day which has given firmness to some of the lines of railway. It is said that the Government is determined to take possession of all the railways, and to make an equitable arrangement with the shareholders.

A deputation consisting of the directors of several railways, and among others of the Paris and Lyons, had yesterday an interview with the Minister of Finance on the subject. The report is that the government will take all the lines out of the hands of the shareholders at par, and pay for them at five per cent, at par. As it is well known that the late government, as well as the present, was very anxious to get the lines into their own hands, it is exceedingly likely that this or some similar plan will be adopted.

The directors of several lines are beginning to find their employes exceedingly troublesome. On the Rouen line, the engine-drivers refuse to work more than fifteen days per month ; and besides this, they ask for the selection of those to be employed under them, an increase of wages. On other lines similar symptoms of insubordination show themselves, and threats have been used to enforce the claims ; which have greatly alarmed the directors. It is probable that in a day or two the Government will make known its determination on this important subject.

Every one who knows the respect with which Frenchmen treated national property, even in the midst of the excesses of a Revolution, will see that in this country railways are much safer in the hands of the Government than in those of private companies. It is also reported to-day that an addition of 56 per cent, is to be made to the direct taxes.


This report in the Sydney Morning Herald suggests an ambivalence in Australia about railways being in private hands. The industrial action of the Rouen engine drivers in support of their mates is an interesting example of solidarity in the face of the financial problems of French capitalists at the time, 1848 being of course the "year of revolution" in much of Europe and the last year of the Chartist mass demonstrations in Britain.

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