Guest Author - Rebecca Graf
There were many differences between the various sections of Europe in how they developed internally. In France, revolution was still fresh on the citizens’ minds, but the period of Napoleon III was a time that benefited France internally. He pushed France into the present and prepared it for the future. The violence of the revolutions died down and peace became something real instead of something hoped for. During the government turnovers, other countries began to move ahead of France in industry. There would not be much of a future if the industry of France did not improve its economy and the industry that drove it. Napoleon III looked to banking with long term investments that offered opportunity for fledgling businesses and new businesses. (1) A key to improving the industries of France was to create an infrastructure that would support it and encourage it. Napoleon III finished the railroads projects that had been started and abandoned previously as well as initiating the widening of the roads in Paris to allow for better economic and military movements. The result was an improvement of infrastructure and the lives of many including the poor. (2)
Internally, Austria and Russia were far behind France. Franz Joseph I wanted Austria to improve internally and compete with the rest of Europe, but his methods were not liberal enough to move from the revolution torn Europe to a new world that was developing all around them. Ruling Hungary added financial and political burdens to Austria including trying to mix ethnic groups together. There were too many factors involved for Austria to improve internally without some actions that were unique and adventurous.(3) Russia was one of the Eastern European countries that was able to compete with the rest of Europe until Nicholas I took power and pulled the nation back. He did not long to be part of Europe. The goal was to isolate Russia from the rest of the world. This did a lot of damage to Russia that Alexander II tried to fix but found that the nation was too far behind. It also had the same problems that Austria had in having many ethnic groups that had issues living together which hindered economic growth. (4)
(1) Heidi Jeanne Kyle, “Napoleon III and the Second Empire,” Week 4 Lecture, American Public University System, APUS, 2013, accessed January 30, 2013, https://edge.apus.edu/access/content/group/203545/Week%204%3A%20Mid%20to%20Late%2019th%20Century%20Europe%20/Napoleon%20III%20and%20the%20Second%20Empire.pdf.
(3) Heidi Jeanne Kyle, “Austrian Empire; Imperial Russia,” Week 4 Lecture, American Public University System, APUS, 2013, accessed January 30, 2013, https://edge.apus.edu/access/content/group/203545/Week%204%3A%20Mid%20to%20Late%2019th%20Century%20Europe%20/Austrian%20Empire%2C%20Imperial%20Russia.pdf.