The initial liberalizing measures introduced by Napoleon in 1860–61 caused considerable surprise. The form of authoritarian government introduced in response to the mid-century crisis had certainly come to appear less justifiable as the threat of revolution diminished. The new measures were, however, primarily a response to accumulating pressure from conservative liberals, both those in opposition and, more significantly, from supporters of the government, voiced particularly in sessions of the Corps législatifs budget commission. Even the banker Achille Fould, previously responsible for the imperial household and a man personally devoted to the monarch, accepted the need to restrain his master. Conservative financial precepts and the ideal of the balanced budget were his guiding principles. In a Mémoire, written presumably at the Emperor’s behest, Fould was extremely critical of the development of extraordinary and supplementary expenditures. His solution was the reinforcement of the budgetary control exercised by the Corps législatif. At a joint meeting of ministers with the Conseil privé on 12 November 1860, Rouher and Baroche — also liberal in financial matters and authoritarian in politics — supported Fould. The Emperor, aware of disquiet in the financial circles upon whose support his public works programme depended, decided that Fould’s highly critical memo should be published and its author appointed Finance Minister.
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