French Algeria 1830-1962


French Invasion of Algeria
    In 1827, France issued a 3 year blockade of Algiers as a result of the "fly whisk incident." Dey Hussein was said to have hit the French Consul with a fly whisk three times in the face after the French Consul failed to answer the dey's questions regarding France's outstanding debt to Algeria. The French took offense at this action and set out to blockade Algeria. 
    The occupation of Algiers was additionally designed to enhance the declining prestige of the French monarchy. Before the plans for the consolidation and extension of French rule could be put into effect, however, the Bourbon dynasty and its government were overthrown by revolution. In 1830, the French decided to continue the occupation and set out on a full scale invasion of Algiers and imposed their French rule. Algiers was captured after three weeks and France annexed the rest of the occupied areas in 1834. There was a large influx of Europeans, mainly of peasant farmer or working class origins from southern areas of Italy, Spain and France, into Algiers. The French authorities took possession and redistributed the land used by tribes, religious foundations and villages.
    During the conquest, the French troops were known to have looted, raped and massacred entire villages, desecrated mosques and destroyed cemeteries. This was also done during the "Penetration Pacifique" of Algeria when the French expanded from the coast into the southern rural areas. This conquest was completed by the suppression of the independent Berber republics of Kabylia in 1857. Algeria was declared an integral part of French territory and French citizens in Algeria were able to elect deputies to the Assembly in Paris. Algerians however were made into automatic French subjects and were not given the same rights as the pied noirs.


Resistance
    The Algerians, who had fought against foreign invaders numerous times before, put up a resistance against the French. Abd al Qadir, venerated as the first hero of Algerian independence, gained the support of tribes throughout Algeria and by 1839 controlled two-thirds of Algeria. However, in 1847 he was defeated by the French commander General Bugeaud.
    In 1871 there was a revolt in the Kabylie region in eastern Algeria that spread to the rest of Algeria that was triggered by Cremieux's extension of colon authority to previously self governing reserves and the abrogation of commitments made by the military government, the scarcity of grain and other such grievances. Cremieux was also responsible for the 1870 Cremieux Decree that issued the Jewish minority in Algeria French citizenship. The Muslim majority were treated as subjects and were not able to obtain French citizenship unless they gave up their religion and culture. This revolt was put down by French troops and French authorities imposed stern measures, such as the further confiscation of tribal lands, that were intended to punish the entire Muslim population. 

Consequences of French Colonialism

    French colonialism changed Algeria's economy into becoming a producer of cash crops (soft wheat, vines, olives, citrus fruits, tobacco and vegetables) that were exported mainly to France. Wine became the country's most important single export. Algeria's mineral resources (phosphates, iron ore and oil) were also exploited but Algeria did not grow to become industrialized.

    The majority of Algerians were forced to move out of the fertile plains and into the mountains. They were replaced by the influx of colons from Europe. Food scarcities later brought the Algerians back into the cities where they sought for jobs but they were forced to live in bidonvilles (right) outside of the cities.

    The traditional political leaders and structures were eliminated and replaced by French authority. Although Algeria was made into a province of France, Muslims were only declared French subjects and thus did not receive the benefits of citizenship.

    Socially, the Algerians developed an inferiority complex  as a result of the continued oppression by the French and the colons. The settlers had more power and high incomes while the Algerian majority suffered loss of status, subservience and poverty. Much of their traditional and religious education was eliminated and replaced by Christian French education. This led to the formation of the evolues class who would later go on to become major revolutionaries during the War for Independence.

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