«Lamartine, before the Hôtel de Ville, Paris, rejects the Red Flag,» February 25, 1848. By Henri Felix Emmanuel Philippoteaux (1815–1884). The red flag represents terror, blood, and a «party’s republic,» Lamartine told the crowd.
Leader of the provisional government that seized power after Louis-Philippe’s fall, Alphonse de Lamartine (who also happened to be a leading Romantic poet) sought to pursue a moderate, liberal course after the February Revolution. When some revolutionaries proposed the red flag—long associated with social revolution—as France’s new flag instead of the tricolor, Lamartine rejected the proposal. Yes, he conceded, Louis-Philippe had reintroduced the tricolor in 1830, but it did not represent that monarch’s regime. Instead, Lamartine claimed, the tricolor was the flag of the original revolution of 1789 and therefore represented the French nation.
«Citizens, you have the power to commit violence against this government; you have the power to command it to change the banner of the nation and the name of France….
…As for myself, never shall my hand sign such a decree! I will push away until death this blood flag, and you should repudiate it even more than I will! Because the red flag that you have brought back here has done nothing but being trailed around the Champ-de-Mars in the people’s blood in 1791 and 1793, whereas the Tricolore flag went round the world along with the name, the glory and the liberty of the homeland!»