Emperor Napoleon III passed a new constitution. This constitution gave him a lot of powers like to be the commander of the army, propose laws to be discussed by the parliament, appoint all ministers and civil servants who were required to take an oath of allegiance to the Emperor and not to the parliament. Also, only candidates approved by him were allowed to stand for elections during his reign.
He re-organized and strengthened the French army which he hoped to use as a political tool to eliminate his enemies. In 1855, he introduced a Conscription Law by which all the French men were supposed to provide military service to the nation for some period. Those who were not ready were exempted after paying huge sums of money. In turn, Napoleon III used such money to pay his officers in the army, hence making them loyal to him.
Napoleon III re-introduced divisions in the local government to ensure effective control of the country side. France was once again divided into provinces, districts and cells. In these divisions Napoleon III appointed prefects to administer them. These were given great powers to carry out his duties and they were little ‘’Emperors”. For example, they had powers to appoint or dismiss teachers and doctors in government institutions and they could even ban any society which opposed the Emperor. This therefore helped Napoleon III to put the entire French society under his control.
Napoleon III censored the press. For example, newspapers were forced to pay 50,000 Francs to his government as a guarantee for their “good behaviour” and never to publish any opposition ideas. The Minister for Internal Affairs was also given powers to suppress opposition newspapers at his own will. This therefore reduced opposition against Napoleon III.
Napoleon III brought the intellectuals and the entire education system under his control. For example, the University of Paris was put under close government supervision, professors and lecturers were forced to sign an oath of loyalty to the Emperor promising never to teach against his desires. He also abolished the teaching of liberal subjects like Literature, History and Philosophy. This also reduced opposition against his government.
He set up a strict spy network in all important places. Using this spy network, all those who opposed and criticized his government were imprisoned, killed and exiled, hence helping Napoleon III consolidate his position.
Napoleon III improved the economy of France by encouraging investment. He setup special banks to help the farmers and manufacturers with loans. Similarly, roads, railways, canals and telecommunication lines were all improved. With these facilities in place foreign trade flourished or prospered while production of coal, iron and steel greatly increased. He also organized exhibitions for Art and Industrial goods to popularize the French goods. In 1855, he organized a great exhibition which even attracted the British. This pleased the Frenchmen.
In the Urbanization sector, Napoleon III did a lot work. He established towns and cities almost in all the districts of France. Slums were also demolished, water, gas and sewage systems were improved. All the narrow streets in Paris were widened to such an extent that Paris became the most beautiful city in the whole of Europe at that time, thus promoting the French glory. This also made Napoleon III popular and therefore assisted Napoleon III to consolidate his position.
He improved the education system of France by establishing many secondary schools, colleges and scientific research centres. The salaries of teachers, lectures and professors in the educational sector were also improved, hence increasing their desire to work. Such educational reforms made Napoleon III popular in France.
He also provided employment opportunities to the working class members who had been suffering under Louis Philippe’s regime. Many of them were employed in the industries and the various commercial activities that were promoted by Napoleon III’s industrialization policy, hence making him popular among the workers.
Napoleon III liberalized his empire in 1859. Due to the increasing problems in the foreign policy and the strong opposition at home, Napoleon III was forced to turn himself into a liberal Emperor in 1859. For example, he allowed all political exiles to return home, allowed freedom of the press, the parliament was allowed to criticize and change proposals made by the Emperor and he also legalized the workers to strike. Unfortunately, these measures opened his regime to further criticism