On this day in 1962 Algeria officially declared independence from France, which it had been fighting a bloody war of separation against for the better part of a decade. Earlier that summer, The Nation had heralded the imminent declaration with an editorial titled “The Beginning.”
Premier Benyoussef Ben Khedda of the Algerian Republic is right: independence is only a beginning. Yet for the moment it is a happy consummation, and perhaps it is also an augury of peace and prosperity for North America. All men of good will, especially Frenchmen, rejoice with the Algerians. The “dirty war” with its casualties and costs and moral squalor is over….
If there is trouble ahead, it can hardly be as bad as the trouble that has been left behind. A revolution normally ends with the revolutionists falling out among themselves: the French Revolution was more nearly typical than the American, one of the happy exceptions. But the Algerians must be sick of bloodletting, and the desire for peace and reconstruction should favor the forces of moderation. Then, also, this is a disciplined revolutionary movement, tried in the years of struggle against superior forces. The military side of the Algerian achievement has been widely praised as a remarkable demonstration of organizational ability. It is now time to devote the talents of the organizers to the welfare of the Algerian people. “The most urgent problem,” Ben Khedda says, “is for the state to rest on solid and democratic institutions.”
To mark The Nation’s 150th anniversary, every morning this year The Almanac will highlight something that happened that day in history and how The Nation covered it. Get The Almanac every day (or every week) by signing up to the e-mail newsletter.