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The Tradition Challenged - Alfred Dreyfus and Emile Zola

Uploaded by babyboo on Jan 29, 2002

Captain Alfred Dreyfus was arrested in 1894 for treason. He was charged with giving military secrets to Germany. However his conviction was based on circumstantial evidence. Dreyfus was framed. While he suffered on Devils Island new evidence came about that indicated his innocence and nothing was done about it. Only one man had the courage to do something about it. His name was Emile Zola. He felt that he had to do something about it so he wrote a pamphlet to be sent out among the people entitled “J’Accuse” (I accuse). He accused the army as a whole of a cover up, and pointed out each individual by name and described how that person contributed to the framing of Alfred Dreyfus. Zola knew that by publishing these accusations he was putting his own life at risk, however he did not care for that, but for the justice on one man’s life.

The public was outraged by his accusations and he was charged with libel. In the trial the jury was told that if he was found innocent the while general staff would resign leaving France with no defense mechanism. The jury was under great pressure for their decision not only affected Emile Zola; it affected the whole country. They found him guilty seven to five. He received the maximum penalty of a five thousand-franc fine and one-year in prison. He fled the country soon after. Dreyfus had been framed and now Zola was being punished for telling the world about it.

In 1899 the case was taken from the military by the government when new evidence appeared and Dreyfus was pardoned in 1906.

Zola was honored as a man who ‘for a moment…was the conscience of mankind’ for his acts. The reason it was such an outrage to the public was because Zola’s letter accused every high position official of committing a crime. Therefore the public lost all trust in their government.

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Uploaded by:   babyboo

Date:   01/29/2002

Category:   History

Length:   1 pages (322 words)

Views:   1400

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