A nation-wide Protestant Press and periodicals
Newspapers and reviews published during the first half of the 19th century were more generally meant for educated readers and leading citizens. The same applied to Protestant publications made up mainly of reviews (yearly, bi-annual, quarterly). Among the most significant and long-lasting publications figured:
- Les Archives du Christianisme, founded in 1818 by Pastor Juillerat-Chasseur,
- Les Annales Protestantes, founded in 1819 by Pastor Charles Coquerel.
To these reviews, published in Paris are added:
- Les mélanges de religion, de morale et de critique sacrée, founded in Nîmes by Pastor Samuel Vincent (1820), a review replaced in 1834 by Religion et Christianisme, likewise edited by Samuel Vincent, and Le Semeur, founded in 1839 by Henri Lutteroth,
- The Christliche Mitteilungen are founded in Strasbourg in 1828 by Pastor Kraft.
Until the July Monarchy, the articles published in these reviews were of a distinct revivalist nature, but as from 1830 the liberals actively participated in and diversified this medium of communication and information.
New reviews were launched:
- Le Protestant, founded by Charles Coquerel in 1831,
- L’Évangéliste, founded in 1837 by Ferdinand Fontanès,
- Le Disciple de Jésus-Christ, founded by Joseph-Martin Paschaud in 1839,
- La Revue de Théologie et de Philosophie Chrétienne, or Revue de Strasbourg, founded by Edmond Scherer and Timothée Colani in 1850,
- La Revue Chrétienne, founded by Edmond de Pressensé in 1854,
- La Revue Théologique, founded in 1874 by the Montauban Faculty of Theology,
- Le Bulletin de la Société d’Histoire du Protestantisme Français founded in 1852.
Moreover, press media raised new interest : monthly or weekly periodicals and daily newspapers which highlight current events and their analysis (by means of editorials) as well as more specifically Protestant news (accounts of various church assemblies) and obituaries. Titles such as L’Espérance (1838), Le Lien (1841) La Voix Nouvelle (founded in 1846 by the Methodist pastor Philippe Boucher, Le Signal (founded in 1879 by Pastor Eugène Réveillaud, a former Roman Catholic priest converted to Protestantism) prove how diverse was the interest French Protestant readers.
All these media focusing on information and reflection did not meet with the same success, but the impetus of their development was made evident by mergers and the transformation of some titles as well as by an increasing number of readers.
An active local religious press
From the July Monarchy onwards, a local religious Press was developed alongside the national titles:
- Le Catholique apostolique et non romain, founded by Pastor Cambon in 1839, covered the South-West,
- Le Réveil, founded by Pastor Macé in 1839, covered the area of Montpellier,
- La Sentinelle, founded by Pastor Meynadier in Valence, in 1834,
- L’Observateur Évangélique, in Poitiers.
This specific activity did not always survive the harassment to which it was submitted during the authoritarian period of the Second Empire.
Reviews and periodicals concerning Protestant charities
Of great interest is the information concerning numerous periodicals dealing with the growth of Protestant charities, and created to publicize their aims and needs:
- Le Journal des Missions Évangéliques, founded in 1826 by the Maison des Missions Évangéliques de Paris, and its complement, Le Petit Messager des Missions, launched in 1844,
- La Chambre Haute, founded in 1870 by the Alliance Évangélique for distribution throughout the Gard département, and completed in 1890 by L’Étendard Évangélique distributed in the Charentes area,
- L’Ami de la maison, was, from 1874 on, the official voice of the Croix Bleue,
- Le Magasin des Écoles du Dimanche (1851) replaced by Le Journal des Écoles du Dimanche in 1888, both related to the Société des Écoles du Dimanche.
To these titles must be added devotional newspapers published by pastors or pastors’ wives. The best-known of these, L’Ami chrétien des familles, was founded in 1858 by Lutheran pastors. Madame Sabatier, Madame Decoppet, Madame Puaux, joined by the wife of the economist Jules Siegfried and the wife of the historian Charles Seignobos are members the very active editorial staff of La Femme, founded in 1878.
Confidential correspondence between pastors
The theological differences between pastors were quite real during the greater part of the 19th century. As long as it was impossible to convene a national synod, they prompted very significant and interesting liaison newsletters. These were generally given the name of “correspondence”, as they appeared without regular columns and consisted of signed articles published in letter form and re-arranged by a “central correspondent” in order to ensure their wider distribution. They are characterised by a striking freedom of expression.
The first “correspondence” was the Correspondance Frontin, named after the evangelical pastor appointed to Dijon at the time of the July Monarchy. Pastor Benjamin Vaurigaud (likewise an evangelical, posted in Nantes from 1861 to 1870) was at the origin of the Correspondance évangélique. Suspended during the war of 1870, its publication is briefly resumed by Pastor Monbrun in 1877. To these “correspondences” related to the Revival Movement, more liberal “correspondences” were rapidly added such as La Correspondance fraternelle, also called Correspondance Fontanès and very regularly published between 1839 and 1848 ; these were followed by the Correspondance Cruvellié and the Correspondance Montandon between 1852 and 1855. Unfortunately, no complete collection of the last three is available today.
François Guizot (1787-1874)
The life of François Guizot spans practically the whole of the XIXth century. He was born into a Protestant family on October 4, 1787 – during the Ancien Régime – and he died on September 12, 1874, as Third Republic was being establishment. He marked his century as an intellectual and as a man of action. The great thinker of French political liberalism, Guizot was to be both the philosopher of representative government and the great organizer of the July Monarchy. His law on Primary Education established the bases of the French school system. A tireless worker, he left behind him a significant work in print and a considerable amount of letters.
The end of the XIXth century was marked by an anti-Protestantism accentuated by the Dreyfus case and opposing Catholics and Protestants, while the right wing anti-republicans denounced a « Judaeo-Protestant alliance ».
The Protestants and the Dreyfus Case
Many Protestants took sides in favour of Captain Dreyfus. Some will even take an active part in the movement that will allow the re-examination of the process, such as Scheurer-Kestner, Vice-President of the Senate in 1897, and Francis de Pressensé, one of the founders and first president of the Human Rights League (1898).
Protestants and Public Education
During the XIXth century, the July Monarchy and the Third Republic were the two significant periods of intense Protestant participation in the development of the public education system that had initially been established at the time of the Empire.
In 1833, Guizot promulgated the first major law on Public Elementary Education. Though all religious connotations had not yet been abolished, this law was to be extended, under the Third Republic, to making education free, compulsory and undenominational. Some outstanding Protestant personalities had a decisive role in both the conception and the implementing of this new system of education.
Towards the end of the XIXth century, Protestant influence decreased, and some Protestants regretted the excessive anti-clericalism of political leaders.
The Second Republic (1849-1852)
Protestants reacted in various ways to the Revolution of February 1848. Aware of the dire poverty of the people, many welcomed it. Others remained wary of the danger of socialist ideas.