The momentum was on the side of the Dreyfusards for a new trial. But Jules Méline, the prime minister—who knew that the letter Henry produced had been forged—nonetheless declared the case closed. Then, a month after Zola's conviction, new elections brought a new Minister of War, Godefroy Cavaignac, who in July 1898, gave a speech in the French Chamber of Deputies doubling down on Dreyfus's guilt and the authenticity of the forged documents. The Chamber gave Cavaignac a rousing ovation, voting unanimously to post copies of the speech and the documents outside town halls across the country. Historian Barbara Tuchman, in her book The Proud Tower, picks up the story:
For the Dreyfusards it was an unbelievable blow, an "atrocious moment." A journalist came hot from the Chamber to bring the news to Lucien Herr [a leader of the Dreyfusards], who was in his study with Léon Blum [Socialist politician, later to become prime minister of France]. They were struck mute; tears were close to the surface; they sat immobilized by consternation and despair. Suddenly the doorbell rang and Jaurès burst in, brushed aside the gesture of his friends inviting him to mourn and berated them in a tone of triumph. "What, you too?... Don't you understand that now, now for the first time we are certain of victory? Méline was invulnerable because he said nothing. Cavaignac talks, so he will be beaten.... Now Cavaignac has named the documents and I, yes I, tell you they are false, they feel false, they smell false. They are forgeries.... I am certain of it and will prove it. The forgers have come out of their holes; we'll have them by the throat. Forget your funeral faces. Do as I do; rejoice."Jaurès's indefatigable and zealous hope (Georges Clemenceau once joked that Jaurès's articles were easy to spot: "all the verbs are in the future tense") is hard work. But why not? The times are dark, and with good reason. But we have everything to gain.
Jaurès went out and wrote Les Preuves (The Proofs), a series of articles beginning that week in the Socialist paper, La Petite République, which stunned its readers and marked the first collaboration of Socialism with a cause of the bourgeois world. Through the Affair the bridge of class enmity was crossed.