Paris in Kansas City
by David Arthur Walters
A Kansas Citian proudly stated to me today that Kansas City is properly hailed as “The Paris of the Plains.” I had not heard that appellation before but I was willing to consider the comparison because I love French Fries and hate Texas Toast. I see very little of Paris in downtown Kansas City, but I suppose Country Club Plaza has French flavors. You see, I have never been to my favorite city, Paris, which I imagine to be quite wonderful to this very day, notwithstanding the rumour that American tourists who cannot speak French are charged double for everything there. In any case, the mention of Paris prompted me to think again about the July Revolution of 1830, and I found these notes in my trusty old plastic briefcase:
“No more chambers, no more journals , no more liberty of the press,” cried a postilion of the events in Paris, I had noted. Charles X had signed the Orders in Council, or “crimes against the Charter” as they were called by the revolutionaries, and they had been duly published in the official organ, the Moniteur, on 26 July, 1830 – I recall they were published after a brief delay due to a certain compunction on the publisher’s part – as if they were a routine royal release. “General stupor” was the public’s initial response to the news. The first sign of consternation came from the bourgeoisie. Journalists assembled “tumultuously” in the office of the National. They observed that “the people made no stir” over the momentous deprivation of crucial rights. A Petition was drafted and signed in protest of the Orders, which were in effect a royal coup d’etat, pleading that the Orders violated the Charter.
The original Charter of 1815 was originally vague and had been modified over the years to include hard-won specific rights, such as liberty of the press, but now the reactionary King wanted the Charter to be strictly construed, hence his order nullified the modifications.
A few stones were hurled at the chief minister’s carriage. Some journals submitted to the Orders, but the Globe, the National, and the Temps did not comply. Louis Blanc, who would play a major role in the Revolution of 1848, had this to say about the reactionary police orders in his The History of Ten Years 1830-1840:
Journalists hurried from manufactory to manufactory, and from shop to shop, to read them aloud and comment on them. Individuals in the dress, and with the manners and appearance of men of fashion, were seen mounting on stone posts, and holding forth as professors of insurrection; whilst students, attracted from their quarter of town by the appetite for emotion natural to youth, paraded the streets, armed with canes, waving their hats, and crying, Vive la Charte!
The men of the people, cast in the midst of a movement they could not comprehend, looked on with surprise at all these things; but gradually yielding to the contagion of the hour, they imitated the bourgeoisie, and running about with bewildered looks, they shouted as others did, Vive la Charte!
Kansas City, Missouri 2003