Empire of France

January 29, 1947

Report Outline
Position of France as a Colonial Power
Building of Old and New Overseas Empires
War and Postwar Events in French Empire
Changing Bases of French Colonial Policy
Special Focus

Position of France as a Colonial Power

Critical Nature of Struggle in French Indo-China

France, confronted by insurrection in Indo-China, is now mobilizing forces for whatever military operations may be necessary to re-establish her authority in that outpost of empire. The Viet Nam revolt is a major challenge to the fledgling Fourth Republic. Loss of Indo-China, richest and most populous of all French colonies, might be a signal for revolt in North Africa and might lead eventually to virtual dissolution of the world's second largest empire.

Achievement of independence by the mandated territories of Syria and Lebanon has already deprived France of influence in the Near East. If she were now to lose her strategic position in the Far East and the strength derived from possession of trans-Mediterranean territories, it would be impossible for her to regain the rank of a great power. The struggle in Indo-China is thus not alone a struggle to retain the fruits and prestige of empire. Upon its outcome may depend the future of France herself as a first-class nation.

Threat to the French Empire from Native Unrest

After the United States acquired Louisiana in 1803, there were left to France only remnants of a great overseas empire previously won by French explorers and traders. Native unrest played small part in loss of the old empire; its fate was determined largely on the battlefields of Europe or by the issue of clashes in the colonies between French troops and the forces of rival European powers. Today, on the contrary, the threat to the empire built up during the 19th century comes, not from other colonial powers, but from the colonies themselves.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Mar. 03, 1978  French Parliamentary Elections
Feb. 14, 1973  French Elections, 1973
Apr. 10, 1968  French-American Relations
Nov. 24, 1965  Election of De Gaulle: Past and Future Policies
Nov. 20, 1963  French Policy Under De Gaulle
Feb. 20, 1963  France and the Alliance
Nov. 07, 1962  French Governmental Crisis
Mar. 10, 1960  Status of France
Sep. 15, 1955  Future of France in North Africa
Dec. 16, 1953  French Political Instability
Nov. 15, 1952  France and Germany in West European Defense
Jan. 29, 1947  Empire of France
Sep. 01, 1945  France in Transition
Aug. 08, 1944  Relations with France
Mar. 21, 1942  Relations with France
Apr. 10, 1934  Constitutional Reform in France
Jun. 30, 1929  The French Debt and the Young Plan
Apr. 27, 1928  The Briand-Kellogg Correspondence
Mar. 30, 1928  French National Elections - 1928
Aug. 24, 1926  French Currency and Exchange
Jun. 30, 1925  The Moroccan Problem
Jun. 17, 1925  The French Debt to the United States
Apr. 11, 1925  The French Financial Problem
May 07, 1924  The French National Elections
Sep. 21, 1923  French Reparation Policy in the Light of the Dariac Report
Regional Political Affairs: Europe