L’avène­ment de la démocratie moderne à Genève 1814-1847

William E. Rappard

William E. Rappard, L’avène­ment de la démocratie moderne à Genève 1814-1847, Genève: Alexandre Jullien, 1942.

Introduction/Historical Situation and Systematic Context

William E. Rappard was deeply associated with the town of Geneva and its University, even though he was considered to be a true cosmopolitan. Following his interest in local history (“une histoire de famille”) within the great sphere of historical thought, he elaborated a study on the “Development of modern democracy in Geneva”, published in 1942. “Mais l’intérêt que présente l’avènement il y a cent ans du gouvernement populaire dans la cité de Calvin et de Rousseau dépasse de beaucoup les bornes de cette cité, et même les frontières nationales de la Confédération suisse. L’expérience genevoise, en effet, présente un puissant intérêt microcosmique, si l’on peut dire. S’étant poursuivie au grand jour, dans un milieu exceptionellement éclairé, elle est pleine d’enseignements d’une portée générale”.

(As for an introduction to the author and the biographical context, please refer to no. 5.3 of this Legal Anthology.)

Content, Abstracts/Conclusions, Insights, Evidence

As a defender of liberty, and as an advocate of democracy, William E. Rappard was eager to study the preparation and pre-history of democracy in the Canton of Geneva within the period of 1814 and 1847, i.e. in so-called Helvetic epoch until the end of Regeneration, where the Canton of Geneva took part relatively late (see nos. 0.6 and 0.8 of this Legal Anthology). In his timeless writing, the author has explicated the rich historical experience in democratic government and the lessons in political thought with success.

Within the period taken into consideration by William E. Rappard, the development of democracy follows a straight line: “Qu’on y voie une ascension ou une decente – je m’expliquerai à ce sujet tout à l’heure – la marche suivie par la république de Genève n’a connu ni déviation, ni retour en arrière. Toujours plus de liberté politique, toujours moins de limitations à l’exercice de la souverainté populaire, telle est la tendence dominante et preque exclusive de l’évolution rectiligne que nous allons étudier”. This could appear as a story of untroubled success for democracy, however history does not ever progress with progress only, since Restauration has also left his traces in the Canton of Geneva, even if there has always been a democratically elected Parliament, representing the people of the republic.

With the passage selected for further reading, we have focused on the qualification of the Constitution of 1814 as anti-democratic, because of its oligarchic character. This analysis may be surprising at the first sight but is thoroughly founded in the arguments provided by William E. Rappard.

Further Information About the Author

William Emmanuel Rappard, born 22 April 1883 in New York, died 29 April 1858 in Bellevue, grew up in the United States of America before settling down in the Geneva area in his adolescence. He studied jurisprudence at the University of Geneva, where he obtained a doctorate in 1908; between 1905 and 1909 he travelled abroad, to Berlin, Munich, Harvard, Paris and Vienna. His first academic occupations were lectureships for economic history in Geneva and for Economics at Harvard University, before he was called ordinary professor of economic history and public finance by the University of Geneva. He was the eminent promoter of the faculty for economic and social sciences at this university as well as the founder and later director of the well-known “Institut Universitaire de Hautes Études Internatio­nales” in the same town. Between 1917 and 1920 he engaged his person for the interests of the International Red Cross, and 1919 he represented the Swiss government at the Peace Conference held in Paris and promoted Geneva as the future seat of the League of Nations (where he served his country as delegate) and defended the idea of Swiss neutrality. Later in his life he invested his personality to the demands of labour protection (in 1951 he even signed as president of the International Labour Organisation).

On the international level he truly was a pacifist, and on the level of the nation state he distrusted nationalism as a danger for peace. His interest in legal thought showed his intention to protect the individual from an all-mighty state, which is documented in his study “L’individu et l’État dans l’évolution constitutionelle de la Suisse” (1936). As an example and model for sound democracy he represented the pre-history of the republic of Geneva prior to the foundation of the Swiss federal state, in the so-called era of Regeneration in Switzerland (“L’avène­ment de la démocratie moderne à Genève 1814-1847“).

For more information and a comprehensive bibliography, please consult:

Victor Monnier: William Emmanuel Rappard – Défenseur des libertés, serviteur de son pays, Genève: Édition Slatkine, 1995.

Selected Works of the Same Author

William E. Rappard: L’individu et l’État dans l’évolution constitutionelle de la Suisse, Zürich: Éditions Polygraphiques SA, 1936; Idem: La consitution fédérale de la Suisse 1848-1948, Boudry: La Baconnière, 1948; Idem: La révolution industrielle et les origines de la protection légale du travail en Suisse, Bern: Stämpfli, 1914 (reprint Zürich: Schulthess, 2008).

For Further Reading

Alfred Dufour: Genève et la science juridique européenne du début du XIXème siècle – La fonction médiatrice des Annales de Législation (1820-1823), in: Wechselseitige Beeinflussungen und Rezeptionen von Recht und Philosophie in Deutschland und Frankreich, 3. deutsch-französisches Symposion vom 16. bis 18. September 1999 in La Bussière/ Dijon, ed. Jean-François Kervégan und Heinz Mohnhaupt (Ius Commune, supplementary vol. 144), Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 2001, pp. 287 ss.;

Carl Hilty: Öffentliche Vorle­sungen über Hel­vetik, Bern: Max Fiala, 1878;

William E. Rappard: La consitution fédérale de la Suisse 1848-1948 (Die Bundesverfassung der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft 1848-1948), Boudry: La Baconnière, 1948 (Polygraphischer Verlag AG, Zürich 1948).

Text

You can find a scan (PDF) of the original text here: Rappard Démocratie Genevoise0001