Batavian Republic - Stages in The History of The New Republic - The Uitvoerend Bewind - The coup D'état of The Moderates

The coup D'état of The Moderates

Meanwhile, the 22 Floréal-coup in France undermined Delacroix, because it inspired more sympathy by French foreign minister Talleyrand for the Dutch opposition members who demanded the ambassador's recall. At the same time, Daendels became disaffected with the regime he had helped put into power because of the depredations of the purging commissions. His French colleague General Joubert was displeased with the radicals because of conflicts about the co-dominion of Flushing. Finally, the newly appointed Agenten were disturbed about the inefficiency of the Uitvoerend Bewind. All these disaffections came together with the June 12, 1798 putsch of that recidivist, general Daendels, in which he disturbed a dinner party of Delacroix and three members of the Uitvoerend Bewind, violating the diplomatic immunity of the ambassador by putting pistols to his chest. The members of the Representative Assembly were arrested in session.

The fall of the Vreede-Fijnje Bewind opened the way for the actual implementation of the new constitution. The "Interim Directory" that now came to power (consisting of a few of the dissenting Agenten) made haste with organizing elections for the Representative Assembly that convened on July 31. By the middle of August a new Uitvoerend Bewind had been appointed and the Agenten who had been behind the coup, resumed their original positions. This new regime now started to implement the policies that their radical predecessors had written into the constitution. The coup of June therefore was not a reactionary revolution, but only brought about a change in personnel. Soon most of the people that were arrested at both the January and June coups were released in the spirit of reconciliation that the new regime advocated. The make-up of the Representative Assembly closely resembled that of the second National Assembly of 1797.

The new regime was soon to discover that changes don't easily come about by legislative fiat. The part of the constitution that worked adequately was the experiment with indirect democracy. During the period in which the constitution was in force, the system of primary assemblies that elected delegates who voted for the respective organs of government worked efficiently, and kept the voters engaged. However, exactly because the Republic was a genuine democracy, other goals of the regime were less easy to attain. The elections often put people into office that were very much opposed to the unitary state that was now enshrined in the constitution, and to other innovations that it entailed, or in any case were of a conservative inclination.

This already applied at the top: the constitution contained an age-requirement for the members of the Uitvoerend Bewind, which favored the election of staid Patriot regents, and discriminated against the more talented "young Turks" that were appointed Agents, like Jacobus Spoors, Gerrit Jan Pijman, and Isaac Jan Alexander Gogel. The tenor of the Bewind became more conservative in the ensuing years. The agents went to work energetically, however, and started with an onslaught on the old administrative organization of the country, in a deliberate attempt to liquidate the very identity of the old federal structure. The once mighty province Holland was carved into three pieces: Amstel (Amsterdam and immediate vicinity), Texel (the northern peninsula), and Delf (the southern part); and the other provinces were often merged in larger entities, like Overijssel and Drente into Ouden Yssel, and Frisia and Groningen into the Eems department. The aim was to organize the country into units with equal numbers of primary assemblies (hence the small Amstel department with its large population). The first elections for the administrative organs of these new entities were held in March, 1799. But of course, such a reorganization did not suddenly change the old allegiances of the people living in these areas. In any case, the new local and departmental administrations, though elected, were supposed to execute the policies as centrally laid down by the national government. As the elections often put people in power who represented the old order (like Joan Arend de Vos van Steenwijk in Ouden Yssel) this was exceedingly unlikely. To put it differently, the political effort to attain "national unity" through reconciliation of the diverse Patriot factions of all stripes, got in the way of the effort to create an efficient national unitary state, as envisioned by Gogel.

Read more about this topic:  Batavian Republic, Stages in The History of The New Republic, The Uitvoerend Bewind