BECK index

France’s Revolution 1789-95

by Sanderson Beck

French Revolution in 1789
Declaration of Rights
French Revolution 1790-91
French Revolution and War in 1792
French Revolution January-September 1793
French Terror October 1793 to July 1794
French White Terror and a Directorate 1794-95
Condorcet’s Philosophy and Babeuf’s Equality

French Revolution in 1789

France of Louis XV and XVI

      The French Assembly of Notables had met in November 1788 and had agreed that all classes of society should be taxed, but they had opposed doubling the representation of the Third Estate in the Estates General called for 1789 nor did they agree to voting by persons. Yet on December 27 the chief minister Jacques Necker and the Council of State had accepted doubling the Third Estate delegates, but the nobles refused to agree. The number of pamphlets published increased from 217 in 1787 to 819 in 1788 and to 3,305 in 1789.
      On the first of January 1789 women of the Third Estate petitioned Louis XVI for the right to be enlightened and have jobs. This winter had steady snow for two months, and food supplies were running out. On the 24th election rules were proclaimed by uneven judicial districts, and those ennobled only by personal titles learned they were put in the Third Estate. The cities of Bordeaux, Bourges, Lyons, Nimes, Rouen, Tours, and Toulouse would have 16 delegates each, and Paris would have 68. Taxpayers over the age of 25 were allowed to vote in the primary assemblies that chose two delegates for every hundred households, and at another assembly those delegates would elect the 1,200 deputies. This was the largest democratic vote in European history and would not be surpassed for nearly a century. Peasants greatly outnumbered others at election meetings, but the Third Estate elected 604 educated men including 294 officials and 99 businessmen. The poor parish priests elected 303 deputies but only 46 of the 176 bishops. The nobles had 278 deputies, and at least 220 had served in the army or navy.
      The Abbé Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès published his pamphlet What Is the Third Estate? that began

What is the Third Estate? Everything.
What has it been until now in the political order? Nothing.
What does it ask? To be something.

Soon 30,000 copies were sold, and more editions were printed. Sieyès and his friends founded the Valois Club on 11 February. Lawyer Joseph Mounier for months had been demanding a constitution to protect the rights of the King and his subjects. He published New Observations on the Estates General of France, and he advocated the union of the three estates.
      Class conflict broke out in Brittany and at Rennes on 26 January 1789. Constantin-François Volney’s The People’s Sentinel had criticized nobles and described bourgeois grievances, and now they advocated the end of all privileges. Violent protests also erupted in Poitou, Franche-Comté, and Provence. In northern France some hunters violated game laws on aristocratic estates while others attacked grain transports. Honoré-Gabriel Riquetti, Count of Mirabeau, had written his Secret Story of the Berlin Court, but on February 10 the Paris Parlement ordered it burned. On 23 March electors of the Third Estate took over the Paris government and appointed a patriot guard. On the 27th Mirabeau mediated a conflict between housewives and the Mayor with his troops over the price of bread. In March and April rioting occurred in Marseille, Cambrai, Picardy, Valenciennes, Vannes, Besançon, Alençon, and Orléans. The price of bread had reached a century high, and in Paris the wallpaper manufacturer Jean-Baptiste Réveillon and the saltpeter maker Henriot suggested lowering the price so that low-wage workers could afford it; but this was taken as an effort to lower wages, and people destroyed their factories on 28 April. Troops dispersing the crowd killed 25 people, but Réveillon found refuge in the Bastille.
      On 2 May at Versailles the deputies were presented to King Louis XVI with nobles dressed in gold and the clergy in red or violet capes, but the Third Estate in black clothes had to wait three hours to bow to the King. On 5 May Louis opened the assembly, and Necker’s speech on finances lasted three hours. To prevent famine he was spending 25 million livres on foreign grain in the first half of the year. The rest of May was taken up with verifying the credentials of the delegates, and they formed 31 committees. The Third Estate refused to consider themselves a separate order, and on 3 June they elected the astronomer Jean Sylvain Bailly their leader and called themselves commons (communes). The next day the King’s son, the Dauphin Louis Joseph, died. On 10 June Sieyès persuaded the Third Estate to invite the nobles to join them, but at first only parish priests did so. A week later the Commons declared themselves the “National Assembly” with the power to confirm taxes and with Bailly as president.
      On 19 June a majority of the clergy agreed to combine the three orders. The next day a royal session was postponed. Finding the doors locked, the Commons decided to meet in an indoor tennis court where they signed an oath to stay united until a constitution was established. As 10,000 people flowed into the Palais-Royal, the King and his Council rejected Necker’s program; but they granted the Estates General approval of taxes, loans, and expenditures, and they accepted freedom of speech and the press. Yet King Louis still rejected equal rights. He ordered the Three Estates to meet separately, or he would dissolve them. The Third Estate refused to leave, and Mirabeau declared that they would not do so “unless forced by bayonets.” This persuaded 47 nobles to join them, and on 27 June the King ordered the three orders to assemble together.
      These successes aroused the people in Paris who needed bread which cost the poor at least half their income. French Guards began fraternizing with the people. After fourteen were arrested for mutiny, the people demanded their release with 4,000 storming the Abbaye prison on 30 June. The next day the number of troops in Paris was greatly increased to more than 20,000. One week later Mirabeau persuaded the National Assembly to petition the King to withdraw the soldiers, but Louis said they were to preserve order. Those who did not wear court breeches (culottes) had been called “sansculottes,” a derogatory term, but in the revolution many people dressed like the poor and were proud to be sansculottes.
      After debating the grain trade for four days, on 7 July the Assembly set up a committee to draft a constitution, and they became the Constituent Assembly. On the 11th the King dismissed and banished Necker, replacing him with the Baron of Breteuil for five days. The Marquis de Lafayette suggested a declaration of rights. The next day was a Sunday, and people gathered. The cavalry tried to disperse the crowd in the Place Louis XV, but the French Guards defended the people. On the 13th the reformed General Assembly met at the Hotel de Ville and authorized a bourgeois militia of 48,000 men while people put up barricades and plundered the stores of gunsmiths.
      On the morning of 14 July they took 3,000 rifles from the military hospital of Les Invalides, and about 8,000 Parisians went to the Bastille fortress looking for more, filling the evacuated outer courts. The Bastille had held political prisoners, but now only seven remained with 80 war invalids and 30 Swiss guards. The governor, Bernard de Jourdan, Marquis de Launey, ordered soldiers to fire, and about a hundred people were killed with only one garrison soldier wounded. French people and National Guards arrived with five cannons they used to attack the gate. De Launey surrendered, and people rushed across the drawbridge, killing three officers and three soldiers. De Launey was killed while being taken away, and the merchants’ provost, Jacques de Fleselles, was shot dead on the steps of city hall; their heads were carried on pikes. Electors made Bailly mayor, and Lafayette agreed to take command of the National Guard. He also proposed white, red, and blue as the colors of the new France.
      On 15 July Louis XVI yielded to the Assembly and withdrew his troops from Paris. He recalled Necker the next day, and on the 17th the King went to Paris and displayed the tricolor cockade. The next day Camille Desmoulins published the revolutionary manifesto, La France Libre; but the King’s brother the Count of Artois, his two cousins, and some aristocrats left France. Eventually about 150,000 people would emigrate. Forty of the 54 customs houses around Paris were damaged or destroyed by the 17th. The newspaper, Révolutions de Paris, edited by Louis-Marie Prudhomme, began on the 18th, and on the 28th Jacques Pierre Brissot resumed publishing Le Patriote français. The Assembly appointed a committee of investigation. The fleeing Paris intendant Bertier de Sauvigny and his father-in-law Foullon de Doué were arrested for conspiring to starve the people. They were executed on 22 July, and their heads were also paraded. Necker arrived on the 30th to save the Baron de Besenval who commanded the Swiss Guards.
      Democratic revolutions occurred in many French towns, and militias were formed. One deputy called it “the war of the poor against the rich!” Mobs attacked the abbeys of Cluny, Macon, and Tournus, and they hanged 27 men. They pillaged Jewish homes in Alsace. In Dijon people arrested the governor, and they confined nobles and priests to their residences. At Rennes the garrison deserted, and the military commander fled. The King visited Paris, and people demanded a lower price of bread. Central authority gave way to municipal power. Sieyès wrote his Préliminaire de la Constitution française.
      Starting in August towns formed pacts of mutual assistance in a federation of communes. They cancelled the salt tax, excise taxes, and municipal tolls, and they banned grain exchanges. As wheat ripened, riots broke out over grain. Large towns expelled vagabonds and beggars. The Great Fear (la grand peur) began on 20 July as disorders erupted in Poitou, Beauvais, Champagne, Normandy, Aquitane, and Franche-Comté.

Declaration of Rights

      On 4 August the National Assembly abolished feudal privileges, and two days later the disturbances ceased. Also on the 4th the Assembly began working on a declaration of rights. That evening they approved equal taxation and redemption of most manorial rights, and they abolished serfdom without indemnification, hunting monopolies, and seigniorial jurisdictions. Legal punishments were to be equal, and anyone could obtain a public office. After debating for a week the National Assembly decreed the end of the entire feudal regime except primogeniture and honorific prerogatives, though they held open indemnity for manorial fees. On the 13th Louise Felicité de Kéralio began the Journal d’Etat et du Citoyen. Thomas Jefferson influenced Lafayette’s draft of human rights, but the Assembly voted to debate Mirabeau’s draft from 20 August to the 26th when they approved the following Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen:
The representatives of the French people,
organized as a National Assembly, believing that
the ignorance, neglect, or contempt of the rights of man
are the sole cause of public calamities
and of the corruption of governments,
have determined to set forth in a solemn declaration
the natural, unalienable, and sacred rights of man,
in order that this declaration,
being constantly before all the members of the Social body,
shall remind them continually of their rights and duties;
in order that the acts of the legislative power,
as well as those of the executive power,
may be compared at any moment
with the objects and purposes of all political institutions
and may thus be more respected,
and, lastly, in order that the grievances of the citizens,
based hereafter upon simple and incontestable principles,
shall tend to the maintenance of the constitution
and redound to the happiness of all.
Therefore the National Assembly recognizes and proclaims,
in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being,
the following rights of man and of the citizen:

Article I. Men are born and remain free and equal in rights.
Social distinctions can be founded only on the common good.
Article II. The goal of any political association is the conservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man.
These rights are liberty, property, safety
and resistance against oppression.
Article III. The principle of any sovereignty
resides essentially in the Nation.
No body, no individual can exert authority
which does not emanate expressly from it.
Article IV. Liberty consists of doing anything
which does not harm others:
thus, the exercise of the natural rights of each man
has only those borders which assure other members
of the society the enjoyment of these same rights.
These borders can be determined only by the law.
Article V. The law has the right
to forbid only actions harmful to society.
Anything which is not forbidden by the law cannot be impeded,
and no one can be constrained to do what it does not order.
Article VI. The law is the expression of the general will.
All the citizens have the right of contributing personally
or through their representatives to its formation.
It must be the same for all,
either that it protects, or that it punishes.
All the citizens, being equal in its eyes, are equally
admissible to all public dignities, places, and employments,
according to their capacity and without distinction
other than that of their virtues and of their talents.
Article VII. No man can be accused, arrested nor detained
but in the cases determined by the law,
and according to the forms which it has prescribed.
Those who solicit, dispatch, carry out
or cause to be carried out arbitrary orders, must be punished;
but any citizen called or seized under the terms of the law
must obey at once; he renders himself culpable by resistance.
Article VIII. The law should establish only penalties
that are strictly and evidently necessary,
and no one can be punished but under a law established
and promulgated before the offense and legally applied.
Article IX. Any man being presumed innocent
until he is declared culpable
if it is judged indispensable to arrest him,
any rigor which would not be necessary for the securing
of his person must be severely reprimanded by the law.
Article X. No one may be disturbed for his opinions,
even religious ones, provided that their manifestation
does not trouble the public order established by the law.
Article XI. The free communication of thoughts and of opinions
is one of the most precious rights of man:
any citizen thus may speak, write, print freely,
except to respond to the abuse of this liberty,
in the cases determined by the law.
Article XII. The guarantee of the rights of man
and of the citizen necessitates a public force:
this force is thus instituted for the advantage of all
and not for the particular utility of those in whom it is trusted.
Article XIII. For the maintenance of the public force
and for the expenditures of administration,
a common contribution is indispensable;
it must be equally distributed to all the citizens,
according to their ability to pay.
Article XIV. Each citizen has the right to ascertain, by himself
or through his representatives, the need for a public tax,
to consent to it freely, to know the uses to which it is put,
and of determining the proportion,
basis, collection, and duration.
Article XV. The society has the right of requesting an account
from any public agent of its administration.
Article XVI. Any society in which the guarantee of rights
is not assured, nor the separation of powers determined,
has no Constitution.
Article XVII. Property being an inviolable and sacred right,
no one can be deprived of private usage,
if it is not when the public necessity,
legally noted, evidently requires it,
and under the condition of a just and prior indemnity.1

These rights apparently did not include women and slaves.
      On 10 September the Assembly rejected having a second chamber 849-89, but they voted 673-352 to approve Mirabeau’s unpopular bill allowing the King’s suspensive veto that could delay legislation for up to four years. On the 13th in Orléans guardsmen fired on people complaining about food supplies, killing 90 including the protest leader who was hanged. The next day Louis XVI recalled a disciplined regiment from Flanders, and the thousand soldiers arrived at Versailles on the 23rd. On the 18th the King refused to ratify the end of feudalism or the Declaration of Rights. Jean-Paul Marat began publishing the daily Friend of the People. Necker’s attempt to get loans had failed, and on the 29th he called for a 25% income tax.
      On 1 October the National Assembly urged Louis XVI to agree to the Declaration of Rights and the constitutional articles passed so far, and he prevaricated by “acceding.” The 31-year-old lawyer Maximilian Robespierre criticized him for placing his will above the rights of the nation. Many people complained about a royal banquet two days later, and a rumor spread that when she was told the people have no bread, Queen Marie-Antoinette had said, “Let them eat cake.”
      On the 5th a crowd with many women gathered at the Hotel de Ville, and they marched to Versailles arriving with 7,000 people. Lafayette came later in the rain with 20,000 guardsmen and persuaded Louis to accept the Declaration and to return to Paris the next day. In the morning demonstrators shot at the royal guards, killing two. The royal family was accompanied by about 60,000 people in a procession led by the National Guard that took seven hours. Lafayette believed he had rescued the King and Queen, and he became their mentor. He managed to get Duke Philippe of Orléans sent to London, but Mirabeau refused to go to Istanbul. Mirabeau on 24 October proposed that the King select his ministers from the Assembly; but patriots opposed this, and the Assembly prohibited it on 24 November. The philosopher Condorcet had been a member of the National Assembly since 17 June and then of the Constituent Assembly.
      On 21 October the Assembly authorized the National Guard to enforce the Martial Law against Tumults, and on the 29th they established the right to vote for all men over the age of 25 who paid taxes of at least the pay for three days of unskilled work. In November the Assembly decreed that the social orders no longer existed, and on the 14th they abolished the royal intendants who had been administering the provinces. The Breton Club met in Paris at a Dominican monastery, and they became known as the Jacobins. The popular young orator Desmoulins began publishing Les Révolutions de France et de Brabant. In December the Assembly issued paper bonds at 5% interest, and a law mandated elections for mayors, officers, and councilors for the communes. On the 14th they gave municipalities the authority to levy duties and maintain order with the National Guard. On the 22 December each department was given a general council and a directory, and districts got councils. In the last week of December they gave Protestants civic rights including holding public office. The next month the same was granted to Jews in the south, but Jews in eastern France had to wait until September 27, 1791.
      Young republican Marie-Joseph Chénier wrote the play Charles IX about the Saint Bartholomew’s Day massacres of 1572 that vilified the Church. On 19 August demonstrators interrupted the Comédie-Française to demand its staging, and they changed their name to Théatre de la Nation and produced it on November 4 with Georges Danton leading the applause.

French Revolution 1790-91

      Thomas de Mahy, Marquis de Favras, led a conspiracy to rescue King Louis XVI financed by the Count of Provence to use 30,000 royalist troops and assassinate Bailly, Necker, and Lafayette and make himself regent. The plot was exposed by a leaflet on 23 December 1789, and Favras was arrested and tried. On 26 January 1790 an attempt to free him was overcome by Lafayette’s guards, and Favras was hanged on 19 February. In January the radical Cordeliers Club led by Danton protected Jean-Paul Marat from prosecution. The political club Cercle social was founded based on Rousseau’s writings. In northern Brittany rioting destroyed 22 châteaux, and on the 24 January dragoons killed 16 peasants trying to burn a castle at Yvignac. The next day Robespierre demanded repeal of the law requiring a silver marc to vote, but his speech was booed. On 4 February Louis XVI was led to the Constituent Assembly and swore to follow the constitution. On the 8th the Jacobin Club adopted a constitution and began forming branches all over France.
      Bishop Talleyrand of Autun had proposed that church lands be held at the disposal of the nation and be sold to underwrite salaries for clergy on 10 October 1789. On 13 February 1790 the Assembly dissolved monasteries and convents not involved in educational or charitable work, and three days later they elected Talleyrand their president. The French administration was reorganized into 83 departments with 44,000 communes that elected their councils. The Assembly canceled the salt tax. On 8 March the Assembly decreed self-governing assemblies in French colonies, but only Europeans (whites) could vote or be elected.
      On 15 March the Assembly abolished seigneurial rights and the mortmain that had prohibited serfs from inheriting or willing property, but they confirmed the redemption of manorial fees. They also decreed that inheritances were to be shared by all heirs, ending primogeniture. That day the Assembly elected the Protestant pastor Rabaut Saint-Etienne their president. On 7 April the King’s Red Book exposed secret payments totaling 228 million francs in his reign. The Marquis de Sade had been released from prison on 2 April; but on 9 June he and his wife were declared separated, and her dowry was returned.
      In April the Assembly refused to proclaim Catholicism the national religion, and this led to violent conflicts. The Count of Artois at Turin and his allies tried to instigate civil war with the Languedoc Plan that led to bloody battles at Montauban on 10 May and with Protestants at Nîmes 13-16 June in which some 300 Catholics were killed but only a few Protestants.
      In May 1790 Mirabeau, Sieyès, Talleyrand, Condorcet, and Lafayette founded the Société de 1789 to reconcile liberal monarchists with democratic republicans, but this influential club dissolved into the Monarchical Club by the end of the year. On 15 May the Assembly decreed that citizens would elect judges, and on the 21st they reorganized the municipal government of Paris with 48 sections electing 144 men to the Council. Spain asked France to support them in a colonial conflict against Britain, and the National Assembly took control over foreign policy in deciding on wars and ratifying peace treaties. On 22 May they declared that they would not go to war for conquest or against the liberty of any people, but this promise would not last long.
      On 19 June they canceled inherited ranks of nobility. More than a million men in France were elected to work in local government, the judiciary, and the National Guard. Jean-Antoine Houdon’s sculpture of Jean-Jacques Rousseau was installed in the Assembly Hall. The Assembly’s constitutional committee had decided that the legislature would have 745 deputies with elections every two years, and the first municipal elections were held in early summer. Paris had 48 sections, Lyon and Marseille 32 each, Bordeaux 28, and Toulouse 15.
      On 12 July the Civil Constitution of the Clergy brought major reforms with priests and bishops being elected. Priests had their stipends increased; but those of bishops were reduced, and they had to reside in their dioceses. Despite its condemnation by Pope Pius VI, King Louis XVI accepted it on 24 August, and the royal family was allowed to move to Saint-Cloud. Louis rejected the advice of Mirabeau that he should fight a civil war to restore his power.
      Federations had been organizing for months, and on July 14 they formed the National Federation. On that day about 300,000 people celebrated in front of the Constituent Assembly as the King led the taking of oaths. The judiciary with a justice of peace in each commune was organized by August. That month Lafayette ordered rebels in the Nancy garrison arrested. His cousin, the Marquia of Bouillé, carried out the order on the 31st, and more than 300 people were killed; 33 Swiss were executed, and 41 were condemned to the galleys. In response on 2 September about 40,000 people demonstrated at the Tuileries palace in Paris.
      The National Assembly appropriated 25 million livres for King Louis XVI and 4 million for the Queen, and his ministers were accountable to the Assembly. Revenues from indirect taxes had been 52 million livres in 1788, but in 1790 they were less than 14 million. The short-term debt that had been 707 million livres in November 1789 had ballooned to nearly two billion by the summer of 1790. Necker opposed the plan to issue 800 million livres in paper money (assignats), and he resigned on 3 September and had to be protected by police. On the 12th the Assembly created the National Archives for the public statutes and laws. On 27 October the Assembly adopted a decimal scale for measurements that became the metric system. On 1 November Edmund Burke published his conservative Reflections on the French Revolution, and the French translation appeared on the 29th.
      On 2 November 1790 the Assembly approved the selling of church land 510-346. Church property was about 8% of France’s wealth, and it was sold by auction to 700,000 people. France’s new land tax went into effect on 23 November with a revenue of 240 million livres compared to 60 million on commerce and industry. On the 27th priests were required to take an oath to France’s constitution and the new Civil Constitution of the Clergy. Only 99 of the 250 clerical deputies took the oath, and about 28,000 of the 54,000 lower clergy refused and were called “refractory” or “non-juror” priests. On 6 December at the Jacobin Club young Robespierre criticized the new system of recruiting the National Guard that accepted only those paying taxes. Talleyrand took the civil oath on the 28th and resigned as Bishop of Autun on 13 January 1791, and four days later he was elected administrator for the Department of the Seine.
      On 3 December Louis XVI had written to Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia asking him to organize a European Congress to help restore his power. In February 1791 the King’s two elderly aunts left for a pilgrimage to Rome, but officials had them brought back on the 19th. The Assembly decided they had not broken a law, and they were allowed to go. On 6 March a petition signed by 300 warned that “a violent shock is coming,” and they asked that women be armed. That month the Assembly abolished corporations, and this affected the guilds. On 14 June associations of employers and employees were banned. Inflation from the paper money was causing economic hardship with food shortages. Foreign trade declined because they demanded gold or silver. In April more than a hundred attacks on castles in Gard were reported. Dr. Joseph Ignace Guillotin suggested a machine that was named after him but had been invented by the German T. Schmitt and the surgeon Antoine Louis. The guillotine could provide a quick execution, and it was first used on 25 April to execute Nicolas Pelletier for armed robbery. On 15 May 1791 the Assembly made mulattoes citizens, but the colonies refused to put the decree into effect. The next day Robespierre persuaded the Assembly to decree that none of the deputies would be qualified to be candidates in the first election under the new constitution. On the 18th all foreigners in Paris were put under surveillance, and on the 29th the King’s special bodyguard of 1,800 men was disbanded and replaced by National Guardsmen.
      Marat and others warned that King Louis XVI would flee, and Louis was prevented from going to Saint Cloud on 18 April. He announced that he was informing European monarchs that he approved the Revolution, but he sent a secret message advising them to ignore that circular. The King ordered the eastern commander Bouillé to prepare six regiments of cavalry to aid his escape. On the night of 20-21 June Louis and his family fled in disguises in a large carriage on the road to Chalons headed for Montmédy near Luxembourg. They stopped at Varennes and were identified. The postmaster Drouet rode ahead and had a bridge barricaded. Louis admitted he was King, and bells alarmed the peasants. In the morning Lafayette’s messengers from the Assembly ordered them to return to Paris. Their carriage was surrounded by crowds and traveled slowly. When the Count of Dampierre came to greet the King, peasants killed him. The King’s brother, the Count of Provence, had left the same day and escaped to the Austrian Netherlands.
      Foreign invasion was feared; garrisons were prepared, and on 21 June the Assembly mobilized 169 infantry regiments from the National Guard. The Cordeliers called for the Assembly to proclaim a republic. The National Assembly was afraid that a democracy would ignite a peasant rebellion and more strikes. Antoine Barnave declared that the constitution was their guard. The Assembly described the King’s flight as an “abduction,” and they postponed the elections. Bouillé fled to Luxembourg and wrote to the National Assembly that he was responsible for the King’s flight. By the end of the year about 6,000 officers would emigrate. On 1 July Le Républican began publishing edited by Condorcet and Thomas Paine who had fled from England in April.
      On 15 July the Assembly blamed Bouillé for the “abduction” and exonerated the sovereigns. That evening a crowd led by Cordeliers persuaded the Jacobins to sign a petition asking the Assembly to replace Louis, and Brissot added “by constitutional means” in the bill the next day. The Cordeliers protested this at the Champ-de-Mars park, and they created a new petition on their Altar of the Fatherland. Two men found under the altar were killed. Bailly and Lafayette declared martial laws. The National Guard fired on the 50,000 demonstrators, killing fifty and wounding hundreds, and they arrested some for conspiracy. Republican publications were banned. On the 16th Barnave, Lafayette, the Lameth brothers, Bailly, and about 200 followers left the Jacobin Club and started the Feuillants, urging the right to revise the constitution to strengthen the monarchy and raise electoral qualifications. Louis XVI now said he accepted the constitution. On 20 August Emperor Leopold II announced that the European nations recognized this constitution. A week later he met Friedrich Wilhelm II at Pillnitz, and they and other monarchs were concerned for the King of France. Yet their Declaration of Pillnitz stated they would not intervene without approval of other powers, and Britain had declared neutrality. The Assembly called for volunteers, and about 100,000 young men joined the army in blue uniforms.
      Condorcet had been urging the Assembly to legislate rights for women since January 1790. On 6 January 1791 Cailly published La necessité du divorce, but most of the legislature opposed legalizing divorce. Former courtesan and dramatist Olympe de Gouges published the Declaration of the Rights of Women and the Citizen in September, opposing perpetual male tyranny, asserting that “women are born and remain free and equal to men,” and demanding the rights of liberty, property, security, to resist oppression, and access to “all honors, positions, and public offices according to their abilities.”2 she argued that the boundaries of perpetual male tyranny blocking them can be reformed by the laws of nature and reason. Marriage laws would be reformed, and civil divorce was passed on 20 September 1792.
      On 3 September 1791 the Assembly adopted the revised Constitution that was to guarantee liberty and monarchy, and on the 14th Louis XVI was formally restored as King. That day Avignon became a part of France. On the 27th they granted citizenship to Jews. Finally on the 30th the Constituent Assembly granted a general amnesty to those who had been sentenced for rioting since 1788. Then they adjourned, and they would be replaced by the National Legislative Assembly. The next day Robespierre moved in with the Duplay family. Mayor Bailly resigned as did Commander Lafayette, hoping to be elected Mayor; but the radical Jérome Pétion defeated him 6,728 to 3,126. Enthusiasm for the Revolution was low as only about ten percent of those eligible voted. About 4.3 million active citizens who paid taxes of about 3 livres could vote in the first round, but women and servants were excluded. In the second round electors had to have paid nearly 10 livres in tax, and in this election they could elect only men who had paid the silver marc worth 50 livres. The latter requirement was abolished in the new constitution, but the electors had to have paid about 20 livres.
      The newly elected Legislative Assembly met on 1 October without any former deputies. They were all young with 264 Feuillants on the right, 136 Jacobins on the left, and 345 independent constitutionalists in the middle. After Mayor Lescuyer was murdered in Avignon on 16 October, patriots avenged his death by executing 61 right-wing suspects held in the Popes’ tower of the Glacière. Deputies led by the Parisian Brissot came to be known as the Gironde. They condemned the counts of Artois and Provence and other aristocratic émigrés, and on the 31st and 9 November they passed two decrees that if they did not disperse and return to France, they would be sentenced to death and have their property confiscated. Louis XVI used his veto to delay these, as he did another decree on the 29th that required priests to take the oath or lose their pensions and be imprisoned for two years.
      From November 1791 to March 1793 Condorcet reported government business in the Chronique de Paris which supported Lafayette. The Girondins met at Madame de Staël’s salon, and on 9 December her lover, the Count of Narbonne, was appointed Minister of War. Capitalists in Marseille, Nantes, and Bordeaux backed the Girondin party and favored war to protect their trade. By this time more than half of the army’s noble officers had emigrated. Narbonne mobilized three armies with 150,000 men on the eastern frontier. On the 18th Robespierre spoke to the Jacobins in opposition to war, saying

It is in war that the executive power deploys
the most fearful energy and exercises a sort of dictatorship
which can only frighten our emerging liberties;
it is in war that the people forget those principles
which are most directly concerned with civil and political rights
and think only of events abroad….
It is during war that a habit of passive obedience, and an
all too natural enthusiasm for successful military leaders,
transforms the soldiers of the nation
into the soldiers of the King or of his generals.3

French Revolution and War in 1792

      On the first day of 1792 the Legislative Assembly declared the émigré princes traitors who forfeited their titles and lands. The next day Robespierre warned against claims that by war their revolution would liberate others in Europe, arguing that force of arms will not make foreigners adopt their laws and constitution because “nobody loves armed missionaries.” The Assembly charged émigré princes with treason, and they criticized the King for plotting with other monarchs. In February a mob pillaged food warehouses in Dunkirk, and the conflict killed 14 and wounded 60. In March châteaux were ransacked in Cantal, Lot, Dordogne, Corrèze, and Gard. From June 1791 to March 1792 the livre on foreign exchanges fell 20%, and the assignats in Paris had fallen from 82% of their value to 63% in the previous two months. People were suffering from this inflation, and the price of gold rose 200%. On 3 March food rioters killed Mayor Simoneau of Étampes. Slave rebellions in the West Indies disrupted the supply of sugar and coffee, and in the spring people attacked grocery stores. A decree enacted on 4 April recognized the equality of natural rights for mulattos and free blacks, and an army of 6,000 men was sent to the West Indies to enforce the decree.
      War against European monarchies was often debated. Foreign Minister Jean-Marie de Lessart was trying to keep the peace, but on 10 March the Assembly accused him of treason. The King dismissed three ministers and appointed Brisson’s friends who favored war—Roland, Clavière, and Charles-François Dumouriez. On the 25th the Legislative Assembly sent Austria an ultimatum, and on 20 April with only seven dissenting they voted for war against “Bohemia and Hungary” which meant Austria but not the Empire. Louis XVI was there and read aloud the declaration of war.
      Dumouriez and Brissot hoped that revolutionary ideas would persuade Belgians, Liégois, Germans, Dutch, and Savoyards to fight for France. They called for 100,000 volunteers from the National Guard but got only 33,000. Many French volunteers preferred the National Guard so that they could stay at home. In May emigrating officers took three regiments over to the enemies of France. General Théobald Dillon and commander Armand Louis, Duke of Biron, ordered a retreat on 29 April, and soldiers accused Dillon of treason and killed him at Lille. Lafayette and Carle were reluctant to engage the enemy, but French forces suffered much heavier casualties than the Austrians they defeated while taking Swiss Porentruy on the 28th. The Gironde ordered Dillon’s killers prosecuted along with Marat for urging soldiers to remove their generals. The leaders of the army met at Valenciennes on 18 May, but they decided that an offensive was not possible and advised Louis XVI to make peace. Marshal Luckner’s army took Courtrai but soon departed. Rouget de Lisle composed the “War Song for the Rhine Army” which became the anthem of the Republic as the “Marseillaise.” Aristocrats in various places prepared to aid the invaders, and a revolt occurred in Yssingeaux; but the Jacobins of Marseille crushed rebellions in Avignon and Arles.
      Girondins introduced the red cap of liberty that was proudly worn by sansculottes, and passive (non-voting) citizens were armed with pikes. The rich were forced to pay for the volunteers. In Paris three prominent Cordeliers were arrested on 18 May, and five days later Brissot and Pierre Vergniaud denounced the Austrian Committee. On the 27th the Assembly decreed that refractory priests were to be deported, and on June 6 they ordered 20,000 National Guard to attend the Federation ceremony and camp outside Paris; but Louis vetoed both decrees. A week later Interior Minister Jean-Marie Roland, Finance Minister Clavière, and War Minister Joseph Servan were dismissed, and Feuillants formed a new ministry. On the 15th Dumouriez was afraid he would be indicted and resigned to join the army. On the 18th Lafayette urged the Assembly to disperse the democrats, but on that day they finally voted to abolish all feudal rights without compensation. On 20 June about 15,000 demonstrators marched before the Assembly and entered the Tuileries to talk to the King. They made him wear a red cap and drink to the health of the “true sovereign, the people.” After many hours Mayor Pétion persuaded them to leave. Louis refused to cancel his vetoes or recall the Girondins, and he suspended Pétion and the Commune executive Manuel. On 28 June Lafayette failed to persuade the Assembly to dissolve the Jacobin clubs or to punish the intruders.
      On 1 July the Assembly declared that the meetings of official institutions would be open to the public. Vergniaud accused the King of treason on the 3rd, and Brissot did so on the 9th. The ministry resigned the next day, and on the 11th the Assembly proclaimed that the country is in danger. Vergniaud, Marguerite-Élie Guadet, and Armand Gensonné secretly communicated with the royal family. On the 26th Brissot threatened republicans and said he opposed removing the King. The Mauconseil section no longer recognized Louis XVI, but Vergniaud annulled that on 4 August. Marseille sent 500 victorious soldiers marching to Paris singing the “Marseillaise,” and the municipality was the first to demand a republic. On 30 July the Assembly allowed passive citizens into the National Guard. The sections of Paris were meeting every day, and one by one they advocated deposing the King. Robespierre suggested that first they needed to dissolve the Assembly and elect a Convention with universal suffrage.
      On 1 August they learned of a manifesto from the Prussian Duke of Brunswick threatening to destroy Paris if they harmed the royal family. Two days later 47 of the 48 Sections of the Paris Commune voted to depose the King, and Pétion led their delegation to the Assembly. On the night of the 9th the Commune met, and the National Guard commander Mandat was arrested and killed, cancelling his orders to protect the King. Cordeliers began ringing a great bell, and they set up an Insurrectionary Commune and detained Pétion. On 10 August 1792 about 20,000 demonstrators joined with 2,000 National Guard at the Tuileries palace and overcame the Swiss Guards, killing 600 of them while about 300 republicans died. They also demolished the equestrian statue of Louis XIV.
      The Legislative Assembly blamed the trouble on the “executive power” of the King who pretended to uphold the Constitution but did not. Louis was to be detained as long as European powers were fighting for him. They recognized the Commune and suspended the King whom the Commune had arrested with his family and enclosed in the Temple by the 12th. Also on the 10th they sent three deputies to each of the four armies to assert the authority of the new government. The Assembly sent 18 representatives to the departments of France while the Council of Ministers sent 12 selected by Danton. On the 11th the Assembly appointed Antoine Santerre commander of the National Guard. Robespierre joined the Paris Commune which elected him President of the Extraordinary Tribunal to judge the Swiss defenders of the Tuileries palace. The next day the Paris Commune suppressed six royalist journals, and they transferred their printing presses to Marat and other leftists.
      Also on 11 August the Assembly authorized municipalities to arrest suspects, and they closed the rest of the monasteries. Four days later they dissolved the orders of teaching and charity, and they made effective the law against refractory priests that the King had vetoed. The Assembly canceled court pensions, and they reduced the royal family’s maintenance to 100,000 francs a month. They extended the vote to all male citizens over the age of 21. On the 14th they decreed a new oath of allegiance to “Liberty and Equality.” The next day the Lameth brothers were arrested for criticizing the insurrection. On the 18th they prohibited the wearing of religious vestments in public. Those priests who had refused to take the oath to the Civil Constitution were to be deported to Guiana, and all priests were required to take the new oath.
      On 19 August Lafayette went to Austria and was made a prisoner. Two days later royalist rebels in the Vendée took over Châtillon. Arnaud de La Porte had distributed the King’s secret funds, and he was condemned and executed on the 23rd. That day the Assembly gave non-juror priests seven days to leave France. In Paris priests who did not take the new oath were imprisoned. On the 25th the Assembly ended seigneurial privileges, and the next day they granted citizenship to 18 foreigners including James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Tom Paine, William Wilberforce, Jeremy Bentham, Joseph Priestley, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, Anacharsis Cloots, Joachim Campe, Johann Pestalozzi, and Friedrich Schiller. On the 28th a decree made those reaching the age of 21 independent of their fathers. On 1 September Robespierre denounced Brissot to the Commune as a “destroyer of liberty.”
      Primary elections for the Convention began on 26 August with the secondary elections on 2 September. Candidates only had to be over 25. Any self-supporting man over 21 who was not a servant could vote, doubling the electorate to about seven million people, and the turnout increased from 10% to 12%. Robespierre and Danton were the first to be elected. The citizens re-elected 190 deputies, and 96 were returned from the previous Constituent Assembly. Robespierre persuaded the electors in Paris to reject Brissot’s candidates. Paine, Cloots, and Priestley were elected, but Priestley declined. The German Cloots supported the Girondins in their revolutionary war in Europe. The Convention had about 200 leftists who sat in high seats and were called “Montagnards,” 160 Girondins on the right, and 389 moderates in the middle. Most of the Montagnards were from Paris. Brissot’s Girondins included Roland and Clavière.
      The Paris Commune had 526 delegates which a few days later was reduced to 144. They were led by Pétion and the Executive Manuel, and his deputy Danton was Minister of Justice. They arrested people for opposing the Revolution. They proclaimed a state of emergency and a general curfew for 29-31 August. On the 30th news reached Cambrai that the Longwy fortress had been captured, and angry people demanded that imprisoned priests be executed. Danton persuaded the Assembly to call for 30,000 more soldiers, and about 20,000 volunteered. Brunswick’s Prince Charles William Ferdinand led 60,000 Prussians who attacked about 4,000 French soldiers at Verdun which surrendered on 2 September. That day Danton called for boldness to save France. A crowd with pikes killed 24 prisoners being moved to the Abbaye prison, and they went into the prison and murdered more than fifty prisoners including Swiss Guards who had defended the Tuileries. Another band of sansculottes who had rifles and sabres slaughtered 188 priests and three bishops. That night the Commune told commander Santerre to order the National Guard to stop the massacres, but the guardsmen refused to interfere. On the 3rd all citizens were required to take the loyalty oath. The prison massacres continued at the Conciergerie that day, and at the Châtelet, Saint-Firmin, and La Salpêtrière on the 4th. Tribunals were set up at these and other prisons, and they carried out about 1,250 summary executions which was more than 40% of the prison population. The Commune used as a pretext the fear that the Prussians would invade and release prisoners to kill their families.
      The Paris Commune authorized many committees of surveillance, and communes throughout France created about 20,000 vigilance committees. Marat was put on the vigilance committee and printed a circular urging other communes to slaughter political prisoners. In the next few days about 3,000 suspects were imprisoned in Paris. On the 4th the Executive Council authorized 12 million livres to import wheat for Paris. On 9 September a mob attacked 50 prisoners being transferred from Orléans to Paris, and 44 heads were displayed on the gates around the royal palace at Versailles. That day an Austrian army besieged Lille. A week later in Orléans a grain merchant was killed for refusing to lower the price. Then people sacked merchants’ houses until they reduced the price of a 9-pound loaf by 4 sous. The Paris Commune had the unemployed work on the city’s fortifications. The Commune and the Assembly called up 30,000 men from Paris and moved them to the border. About 20,000 men were sent to Champagne. On the 17th burglars stole the crown jewels, and on the 19th the Assembly declared the Louvre palace a museum. The royal library became a repository and the national public library.
      On 20 September some 32,000 French defeated 34,000 Prussians at Valmy. The next day the National Convention assembled, and they replaced the Legislative Assembly and established their rules. At the end of the day they voted to abolish the monarchy. On the 22nd they decreed the beginning of “Year One of the Republic.” They gave secular authorities the registry of all births, marriages, and deaths, and they authorized divorce. Priests could no longer refuse to marry divorcés or even other priests. Bells and silver were confiscated from churches, and their precious cloth was sold.
      After the victory at Valmy the French forces advanced. Forces led by General Montesquiou captured Savoy’s capital at Chambéry on 24 September, and on the 29th General Jacques Bernard d’Anselme’s army took Nice away from Savoy and installed a Jacobin government. The Swiss canton of Basel was proclaimed a republic on 3 October. General Custine led the invasion of Germany and took Speyer on 25 September, Worms on 5 October, and on the 21st Mainz where he organized a club; two days later the French entered Frankfurt.
      The Convention ordered royalist statues taken down, and at Rouen those of Henri IV and Louis XV were destroyed on 5 October. Three days later the Austrians abandoned the siege of Lille. On the 10th the Jacobins Club expelled Brissot. The Convention set up a committee to draft a new constitution that included Danton, Louis-Charles of Lavicomterie, Pétion, Brissot, Vergniaud, Gensonné, Condorcet, and Paine. On the 18th Brissot asked Danton to explain a deficit of 200,000 livres in the accounts of his ministry. The next day the Jacobins set up an auxiliary constitutional committee with Robespierre, Georges Couthon, Danton, Collot d’Herbois, François Chabot, and Billaud Varenne. On the 9th the Convention had decreed the death penalty for émigrés with weapons, and two weeks later nine émigrés were caught and executed.
      On 1 November they authorized the state to confiscate the property of émigrés and absent citizens. The next day citizen Sade’s speech, L’idée sur le Mode de la Sanction des Lois, was so impressive that the Pique sector had it printed and sent to the other sectors. He argued that legislators must have the people’s assent. The former marquis was a commissioner investigating hospitals. On the 8th the Rouen council declared martial law to stop food riots. The next day General de Montesquiou escaped to Switzerland after being charged for refusing to attack Geneva. On November 15 the Convention elected 352-246 the Jacobin Grégoire speaker of the Assembly. Also in November they declared in the Edict of Fraternity that “all people are our friends.”
      Dumouriez led an army of 40,000 into the Austrian Netherlands on 3 November and defeated a smaller Austrian force at Jemappes on the 6th. They retreated, and the French took over Mons and Brussels, conquering Belgium. He announced that Belgians were free to have their own laws as long as they were not under a despot. Pierre Lebrun explained that France needed Belgium for its tax revenues and large army. Brissot wanted France’s border to be the Rhine River, and on 16 November the Executive Council opened the Scheldt estuary to shipping in violation of the Westphalia treaties of 1648. On the 19th the Convention offered friendship to all peoples who want freedom. Pierre Joseph Cambon advised the Convention to sell Belgium’s religious and feudal property to pay for the war, and they exchanged their paper money for Belgian coins of gold and silver. Danton accepted the policy of incorporating Belgium. On the 20th Interior Minister Roland revealed what was in the strong-box he had discovered in the royal palace showing how the King had aided counter-revolutionaries and tried to bribe deputies, notably Mirabeau.
      On 27 November France annexed Savoy. The next day the army of Dumouriez entered Liège. On the 29th General Miranda led French troops into Antwerp. That day the Girondists persuaded the Convention to dissolve the emergency criminal tribunal. Judicial procedures returned to normal, and some deported priests and émigrés were permitted to return. Pétion had been elected to the Convention, and the Girondist Nicolas Chambon was elected Mayor of Paris on the 30th. Prussians took back Frankfurt on 2 December. That day General Valence’s forces captured Namur, but Dumouriez decided to halt the offensive. On the 4th the Convention rejected Belgium’s independence and three days later suppressed those demonstrating for it. Dumouriez blamed “greedy speculators supported by the offices of the War Ministry.” War Minister Pache ordered the suppliers of the Belgian army arrested. Roland opposed price controls on grain and restored free trade on 8 December. On the 13th Martinique’s Governor-general de Béhagne persuaded the colonial assembly to declare war on the French Republic. The next day France issued 300 million new assignats.
      On 7 November 1792 the Convention had decided to judge Louis XVI themselves, and on the 13th 25-year-old Louis Saint-Just dramatically called him an enemy who must be executed as a criminal for waging war against his own people. On 3 December Robespierre agreed that a nation giving itself a king is a crime and that he should be condemned to death. On the 10th a long indictment of Louis Capet was read, and the next day he was summoned to face the charges from the Temple where he had been detained for 120 days.

French Revolution January-September 1793

      On the first day of 1793 the Convention set up the Committee of General Defense dominated by Girondins with deputies from the seven committees of War, Navy, Colonies, Finance, Trade, Diplomacy, and Constitution. The lower classes were trying to survive and demanded price controls, grain requisitions, aid to the poor and families of soldiers, and a revolutionary army paid for by taxing the rich. On the 11th the Paris Commune banned performances of L’Ami des Lois by Jean Louis Laya that satirized Robespierre and Marat, but three days later actors read it aloud in public.
      On January 15 the 707 deputies voted unanimously that the former King Louis XVI was guilty and then 424-287 that he should not be allowed to appeal to the people. On the third question 366 voted for death without any qualification with 319 voting for imprisonment, and finally a vote to give him a reprieve was lost 310-380. On January 21 about 90,000 people gathered at the Place de la Révolution to see Louis XVI beheaded by the guillotine. The people shouted, “Vive la Nation!” and “Vive la République!”
      Robespierrre’s accusations against Interior Minister Roland persuaded him to resign on the 22nd. On the 24th the British warned French ambassador Chauvelin he had a week to leave England. Nice was annexed on 31 January, and by then Cambon claimed that 30 French commissioners had extracted 64 million livres from Belgium. French generals, arms suppliers, speculators, a few politicians and others were getting rich off the revolutionary war. Also on the 31st Danton suggested that the limits of France should be the Atlantic Ocean, the Rhine River, and the mountain ranges of the Alps and the Pyrenees. He proposed incorporating Belgium into France, though much territory south of the Rhine was part of the Dutch Republic.
      On the first of February the Convention declared war against Britain and the United Netherlands, and three days later General Beurnonville replaced Pache as War Minister. Pache joined the Montagnards and was elected Mayor of Paris on the 14th. On the next two days Condorcet presented to the Convention his Declaration of human, natural, civil, and political rights and a constitution approved by the Girondists. This republican constitution limited powers but did not separate them as Montesquieu advised. Including 368 articles and much philosophy it ran 85 pages. The primary assemblies would be open to all French men over 21 and to non-national men who had resided in France for one year. The right to security included financial assistance to those in need. To avoid a “Cromwell” the executive was to be changed every fifteen days, and Robespierre denounced the draft.
      The French had only 230,000 men in the army, and on the 24th the Convention called up 300,000 bachelors and widowers between the ages of 20 and 40 for more soldiers. Each department was required to raise a specified number of men. If volunteers were not enough, then the communes had to provide the rest. This made recruiting political, and less than 200,000 were raised.
      Also on the 24th Parisian women took over two boats and sold their cargo of soap at low prices. In the next three days women and men threatened bakers and grocers to lower their prices or face lynching. Some seized goods and left behind fair payment while others pillaged barges and shops. On the 25th Jefferson persuaded President Washington to pay back gradually the American debt to France. In February the assignats declined to 50% of their nominal value, and they would continue to fall for the next nine months. In 1789 about one-tenth of the French were indigent and needed help in a crisis; but now in Paris the indigent were about one-fifth of the population. The Girondins’ free-market policies were not working for the poor, and radicals in Paris called for price controls with a maximum.
      Dumouriez’s army invaded Holland on 1 March and soon occupied Liège; but four days later Austrian forces regained Liège, and the French army retreated. On the 7th France declared war on Spain. The next day the Convention sent off 41 pairs of deputies to the departments, and that night teams of deputies went to inform the 48 sections of Paris that the country was in danger and that they needed volunteers. On the 9th mobs destroyed the printing presses of Brissot’s Patriote français and Gorsas’ Courrier des 83 départements. The next day the Convention set up a criminal court with five judges, a public prosecutor, and twelve jurors. Danton proposed a committee with executive power; but the Girondins called it “dictatorship” and defeated it. On the 18th they decreed the death penalty for émigrés and outlawed priests and the next day for those who instigated rebellion. Watch committees were to be established in each commune and sector.
      Meanwhile in France people reacted against the military recruiting far from the capital in Franche Comté, western Languedoc, and Normandy. In the west on 3 March hundreds protested in Cholet. People in the Vendée rose up, and on the 11th about 1,500 took control of Machecoul and killed at least 162 people in the next six weeks. On that day nobles and former officers took over Cholet. The next day the veteran Nicolas Stofflet with 10,000 Bretons overwhelmed the national troops at Saint-Florent-le-Vieil. On 4 April rebel leaders set up a council for the Catholic and royalist armies that 45,000 insurgents joined. They occupied Thouars on 5 May and Fontenay on the 25th.
      The Rhineland had agreed to union with France on 17 March, and the Convention approved the annexation. Austrian troops had returned to Belgium with Dutch allies, and they defeated Dumouriez’s army at Neerwinden on the 18th. Three days later Dumouriez agreed to an armistice with the Austrians, and he decided to march on Paris. On the 23rd France annexed Basel. Prussians defeated Custine’s forces, and he withdrew them across the Rhine to Landau. About 20,000 French left in Mainz were besieged by the Prussians. After suffering 7,000 casualties at Mainz the French would capitulate on 23 July. On 30 March the Defense Committee summoned Dumouriez and sent four members to him; but he turned them and War Minister Beurnonville over to the enemy, and they were imprisoned for two years. The envoys he had not arrested persuaded the soldiers not to follow him. Dumouriez escaped to Austria on 5 April. By then most German and Italian states had allied with Austria and Prussia against France.
      On 1 April the Convention ended the deputies immunity from prosecution. Danton demanded a Committee of Public Safety (Comité de sûreté générale) (CSG), and the Convention passed it on 6 April and put him in charge with Bertrand Barère and Cambon who had joined the Montagnards. The nine members were to be renewed each month. On the 9th the Convention sent out more than fifty envoys to the French armies. This reduced the Montagnards at the Convention, but they made more contacts outside Paris. The next day Robespierre accused the Duke of Orléans, Brissot, Vergniaud, Gensonné, and Guadet. On the 11th they met an Enragé demand by setting the rate for the assignats and prohibiting double pricing and trafficking in currency. On the 13th the Convention cancelled its decree that France would not interfere in the affairs of other countries. That day Girondins arraigned Marat before the Revolutionary Tribunal, but he was acquitted on the 24th.
      Pétion published his Lettre aux Parisiens accusing the Montagnards of “stirring up a war between those who have and those who have not,” but on the 15th he conveyed the Paris sector’s demand that 22 Girondin deputies be dismissed. Robespierre challenged the “sacred” right of property and argued that the general interest is more important. On 22 April the United States announced that it was neutral in this European war; Jefferson was the only leader who favored intervening for the Revolution. Two days later Saint-Just proposed an alternative constitution with more centralization of the general will. A new constitution committee was appointed, but Robespierre still had only one advocate. Billaud-Varenne wrote Elements of Republicanism blaming capitalists for exploiting workers and pillaging the public purse, and he suggested remedies to wealth inequality. On the 30th the Convention dismissed all the women from the army.
      On 1 May in Rouen the National Guard suppressed a riot over the price of bread, and in Paris sansculottes marched for enforcement of the maximum price, a tax on the rich, and abolition of leases. Three days later the Convention decreed a national price on grain. General Dampierre had replaced Dumouriez as commander; but he was mortally wounded when the allies defeated the French at Raismes on 8 May. The next day the Convention decreed that neutral ships following British orders were lawful prizes. Radicals led by Claire Lacombe and Pauline Léon formed the “Society of Revolutionary Republican Women” to support the demands of the Enragés on the 10th, and Condorcet warned the Convention of the dangers to a republic without a constitution. On the 15th conservative Joseph de Maistre published his Letters of a Royalist of Savoy to his Fellow Citizens. Barère persuaded the Convention to appoint a Committee of Twelve. On the 24th they arrested the journalist Jacques Hébert and the Enragé leader Jean-François Varlet, but pressure got them released three days later. Hébert’s Le Pere Duchesne was the most popular newspaper with a circulation of 50,000, and War Minister Bouchotte distributed 12,000 to the armies. During his term of office he circulated more than seven million copies of radical newspapers.
      On 26 May Marat at the Jacobins Club urged an uprising against the Girondists. The next day he proposed the Committee of Twelve be abolished, and the Girondists walked out. On the 29th at Lyons insurrectionists attacked the Jacobin commune. The next day section commissioners took over the Paris Commune. Jacobin leader François Hanriot was now in command of 80,000 National Guards, and he ordered suspects arrested or disarmed.
      On the 31st the radicals took over the Commune, and Sections had their 14 demands read to the Convention which included a “Revolutionary army of sansculottes, bread at 3 sous per pound, arrest of Clavière and Lebrun-Tondu, voting rights only for sansculottes, and a forced loan of one billion livres from the rich. The next day the Insurrection Committee ordered the arrest of Clavière and Roland; they escaped, but Madame Roland was taken. On 2 June the Committee of Public Safety let the National Guard surround the Tuileries, blocking the Convention members from leaving. They went back inside and ordered the arrest of 29 deputies along with Clavière and Lebrun-Tondu. Most of them fled, but 75 deputies protested in the next two weeks.
      The Montagnards had won. On 3 June the Convention decreed that illegitimate children have the right to inherit, and on the 8th they replaced the insurrectionary commune with the Paris Committee of Public Safety. They raised the salaries of public officials and exempted from the forced loan married couples with an annual income of less than 10,000 livres and bachelors with less than 6,000. On the 11th they passed a law that restored land taken from the communes since 1669 and divided it among the inhabitants “regardless of age or sex.” Louis Marie Lhuillier, the executive of the Paris department, wrote a manifesto that declared, “The right of property cannot be the right to starve one’s fellow citizens,” and he made demands on the grain trade and the price of wheat. The radical priest Jacque Roux was another Enragé leader who advocated a more equal economy and a purified Convention.
      The amended constitution based on Condorcet’s draft was debated for two more weeks and was approved on 24 June, but it would never go into effect. Robespierre influenced the acceptance of an Assembly committee selecting the executive council. Citizenship was open to all men over 21 including foreigners who had been working in France for one year or had married a French woman. The Constitution in the first article proclaimed that the “purpose of society is general happiness,” and it included the following:

Article 21. Public aid is a sacred debt.
Society owes subsistence to unfortunate citizens,
either by obtaining work for them, or by providing
means of existence to those who are unable to work.
Article 22. Instruction is a necessity for all.
Society must further the progress of public reason
with all its power, and make instruction available to all citizens.

      During the month of June some sixty departments out of 83 rebelled against the Paris regime. On 13 June leaders of the resistance met at Caen, and the Cherbourg commander Félix Wimpffen with two regiments joined the insurrection. At Toulouse royalists were released from prison, and Jacobins were jailed as they were in Nîmes. The Vendée royalist army captured Doué on 7 June, Saumur on the 9th, and Angers on the 18th, but they were eventually defeated at Nantes on 29 June. Rebels in Normandy and Bordeaux were soon overthrown. On the 20th Roux led Enragé protests against lack of food and hoarding, and five days later he tried to shame the Convention into action by accusing the deputies of making laws by the rich for the rich; but Robespierre, Marat and others denounced him. The Commune administrator Antoine Momoro persuaded Mayor Pache to order the slogan “Liberty, equality, and fraternity” inscribed on all public monuments in Paris. Commodities were hoarded, and prices rose, provoking riots in Paris over soap. The death penalty was decreed against hoarders; the Paris stock exchange was closed on the 27th; and joint-stock companies were suppressed. As capital fled abroad, the value of the assignat fell below 30% in July to a low of 22% of its nominal value in August, but it would rebound to 48% by the end of the year.
      On 8 July all those who had fled were declared traitors who could be executed. On the 10th Danton was not re-elected to the Committee of Public Safety, but Robespierre was added on the 27th. On the 13th he had presented a plan to reform education requiring all children from age 5 to 12 to attend school. Young Charlotte Corday had stabbed Marat to death in his bath on the 13th, and four days later she was guillotined. On that day the Convention finally abolished all remaining feudal rights. On the 19th a new law required publishers to have permission from the author to print a book. On the 26th the Convention ordered engineer Chappe to set up optical telegraphs. The next day the Abbot Henri Grégoire persuaded the Convention to abolish the government subsidy of the slave trade. On the 28th Austrian forces took over Valenciennes and established a government.
      On the first of August the Convention adopted the decimal system of weights and measures, and they banned the export of capital. The next day they ordered theatres to perform three times a week plays such as Brutus, William Tell, and Caius Gracchus that depicted heroic republican events. On the 3rd foreign nationals were given eight days to leave France except for proven patriots and those working in factories. Voters approved the new Constitution by a referendum with 1,714,266 in favor and only 11,610 opposed. On the 8th Abbot Grégoire persuaded the Convention to abolish academies and literary societies. On 10 August delegates from thousands of cantons attended the secular Festival of the Unity and Indivisibility of the Republic in Paris. The next day the communes were ordered to take a census of their populations.
      The city of Lyon with its silk industry had prospered; but with the decline of the aristocrats, their unemployment rate reached 50%, and the royalists guillotined the Jacobin leader Joseph Chalier on July 16. On 14 August a republican army of 10,000 men besieged Lyon. On the 22nd the Convention elected Robespierre their president. The next day they conscripted all males aged 18-25, raising about 300,000 soldiers. Married men worked forging weapons or transporting provisions, and women made tents and uniforms. They suppressed the Discount Bank, the East India Company, and all stock companies. On the 25th a republican army prevented Marseille from being turned over to the British. Hébert accused General Custine of spying for the Prussians, and on the 28th Custine was sentenced and sent to the guillotine. That day the Convention and the 48 Sections agreed to dismiss all nobles from public positions.
      On 4 September about 2,000 sansculottes gathered by the Hotel de Ville and shouted for bread. The next day many more gathered with petitions as some entered the Convention. One from the Jacobins stated,

It is time that equality bore its scythe above all heads.
It is time to horrify all the conspirators.
So legislators, place Terror on the order of the day!
Let us be in revolution, because everywhere
counter-revolution is being woven by our enemies.4

They called for a revolutionary army, an expanded Revolutionary Tribunal, and another forced loan from the rich. In the next three days the Convention arrested and confiscated the property of those from nations they were fighting. On the 8th in the north a French army of 40,000 men defeated British and German allies at Hondschoote. The next day in the south Admiral Trogoff was declared a traitor for having given his fleet at Toulon to the British. On the 17th the Law of Suspects authorized the detention of the unpatriotic. On that day a French army defeated Spaniards at Peyrestortes north of Perpignan. On the 21st Barère persuaded the Convention to decree that all imports must arrive on French ships, and anyone walking the streets was required to wear the tricolor cockade. On 29 September the Convention passed the General Maximum to fix the highest price for most goods and maximum wages. Prices were not to rise more than a third since 1790 and wages not more than 50%. To accomplish these goals much of the French economy was nationalized.

French Terror October 1793 to July 1794

      Despite Robespierre’s offer to resign from the Committee of Public Safety, its twelve members would not change for the next ten months, and in October they were given executive and governmental authority. Their closed meetings twice a day were kept completely secret. Most of the 46 deputies charged on 3 October were Girondists. The next day they banned prostitution and pornography. On the 6th the new calendar went into effect as 15 Vendémaire Year 2. Fabre d’Eglantine devised the revolutionary calendar based on the four seasons with each 30-day month named after nature in autumn: vine harvest, mist, and frost; in winter: snow, rain, and wind; in spring: germination, flower, and meadow: and in summer: harvest, heat, and fruit. Every day had a different name with five or six days at the end of the year around the autumnal equinox for festivals. On the 7th the Girondist Gorsas was arrested, tried, and executed. On the 9th the city of Lyon surrendered, and on the 12th the Convention ordered the city destroyed which began on the 26th.
      On 10 October Saint-Just persuaded the Convention to suspend the Constitution making the government revolutionary until peace was obtained. Church ceremonies were confined to the church buildings, and funerals and cemeteries were secularized. They dismissed Danton on the 11th, and he went home. In the northeast on the 13th Austrian and German allies defeated a larger French army at Wissembourg. Two days later Strasbourg authorities ordered the churches closed, and the next day a French army of 45,000 men were victorious over the Austrians at Wattignies near Mauberge. That day Austrian Marie Antoinette after a two-day trial was executed by guillotine in Paris. A smaller republican army defeated about 40,000 Vendéans at Cholet on the 17th. The next day the royalist army of about 25,000 men crossed the Loire hoping to find support in Brittany and Maine. On the 20th the Committee of Public Safety eliminated radical organizations including the Revolutionary Republican Women. The next day the Vendéan army led by La Rochejaquelein captured Château-Gontier and massacred civilians. They joined Chouans who followed Jean Chouan from Brittany and Maine, and they captured Laval on the 22nd.
      On 24 October the trial of the Girondins began before 1,200 spectators, and one week later twenty men and Brissot were delivered to the guillotine. On the 27th the Committee of Public Safety took control of supplying provisions. The Jacobin Alexis Thuriot called for the suppression of Christianity, and on the 28th the Convention decreed that no church person could become a teacher. On the 31st Saint-Just imposed a tax of nine million livres on the rich in Strasbourg.
      Meanwhile in August the cities of Bordeaux and Marseille had asserted their independence from the Paris revolution, but a French army led by General Carteaux on the 25th regained Marseille where 289 were put to death. Toulon had declared independence on the 12th. As two revolutionary armies approached the town, on 28 August they surrendered the French fleet at the port to British Admiral Samuel Hood. Carteaux’s army besieged Toulon which did not capitulate to Convention forces until 19 December.
      The Republican siege of Lyon lasted two months until the surrender on 9 October. In the next six months deputies Joseph Fouché and Collot d'Herbois supervised the execution of 1,867 suspected rebels in Lyon, and about 1,600 stone houses of the rich were destroyed. At Nantes suspects increased the prison population to about 6,000. The Convention sent Jean-Baptiste Carrier to Nantes in December, and by February 1794 about 5,000 people had been executed, mostly by drowning. During the civil war about 30,000 men in the Revolutionary Army were in 56 provinces. All together the French had about a million men in twelve armies.
      In the last three months of 1793 the Convention accused 395 people and executed 177. On 31 October in 36 minutes they sliced off the heads of 22 Girondins. Others beheaded in November and December included Olympe de Gouges, Philippe of Orléans, Madame Roland, Bailly, Barnave, Lebrun-Tondu, and Biron. The number of prisoners increased in the last five months from 1,417 to 4,525. Many were kept in prison without charges until they were released after the fall of Robespierre in July 1794. The government had about 20,000 police communes. On 22 November Danton asked the Convention to spare men’s blood.
      On 7 November every deputy who was a clergyman except Abbot Grégoire renounced their faith, and the Convention ordered Bishop Gobel of Paris to resign. Three days later the Paris Commune took over Notre Dame cathedral renamed the Temple of Reason to celebrate the triumph of philosophy over fanaticism with an actress depicting Liberty. On 23 November the Commune closed the churches in Paris. Some considered this a political mistake, and the Convention refused to stop the salaries of priests. Robespierre considered atheism a doctrine of the rich that was alien to the people, and Danton said, “We did not seek to wipe out the reign of superstition in order to establish the reign of atheism.” They opposed the dechristianization and persuaded the Convention to affirm freedom of religion on 6 December. In Year 2 of the Revolution about 5,000 priests got married.
      A decree “constituting Revolutionary Government” passed on 4 December increased the centralization of power. The next day Desmoulins with Danton’s support began publishing Le vieux Cordelier, which was stopped after six editions but circulated 100,000 newspapers. The first urged repeal of the Law of Suspects and formation of a Committee of Clemency. In the third issue on 17 December they attacked the Revolutionary Tribunal including the War Office’s secretary-general François-Nicolas Vincent, and they advocated restoring the constitution and freedom of the press. Five days later women urged the Convention to release prisoners accused unjustly. Robespierre set up a committee to review arrests, and they repealed the death penalty for hoarding. On the 19th the Bouquier Law decreed free education obligatory for all children from the age of 6 to 13, and priests were not excluded from teaching. On the 21st the troops were forbidden to petition collectively. A memorandum issued on the 24th warned of the dangers of violence.
      Also on 19 December Le vieux Cordelier advocated releasing 200,000 suspects. Two days later Robespierre proposed a justice committee to make sure that arrests were justified, but Billaud Varenne persuaded the Convention to reject it. On the 25th Robespierre issued his “Report on the Principles of Revolutionary Government” arguing for an authoritarian government rather than a constitutional one. That day they excluded the only foreigners, Tom Paine and Anacharsis Cloots, and they were jailed three days later. That day the Convention decreed that courts must decide divorce cases within one month. In a series of battles over four days at Wissembourg a French army forced the Austrian and German allies to retreat across the Rhine by 29 December.
      A poor harvest in 1793 led to a severe economic crisis in the winter with lack of food. From October 1793 to August 1794 about a half million people were arrested under the Law of Suspects. Most were kept in prison without charges, and about 35,000 were killed. During the Reign of Terror the Revolutionary Tribunals officially executed 16,594 people. On 4 January 1794 the Committee of Public Safety ordered the production of bayonets to replace pikes. Two days later the Convention decreed the destruction of churches in Marseille that had been used for federalists’ meetings. On the 10th Robespierre persuaded the Jacobin Club to expel Desmoulins for criticizing the Terror, and on the 13th Fabre d’Eglantine was arrested for embezzling money in the Company of the Indies liquidation.
      The French armies fighting foreign enemies went into winter quarters in January. On the 17th General Turreau ordered enforcement of the previous decree for rebels to leave Vendée by having twelve “infernal columns” of soldiers comb the land and kill all men, women, and children having weapons or suspected, and by September the army massacred nearly 250,000 people or about one-fifth of the population. He also ordered villages, towns, and crops burned. On March 27 a column discovered a hospital in the Vezins forest with more than a thousand wounded soldiers from Stofflet’s army, and they killed them all.
      Danton protested that accused deputies should be heard, and Billaud-Varenne threatened Danton. On 23 January the Convention recalled terrorist deputies (Carrier, Tallien, Javogues, Barras, and Fréron) from missions in the provinces. On 1 February the Convention provided ten million livres for food relief, and on the 26th Saint-Just persuaded them to distribute the confiscated wealth of about 300,000 suspects and émigrés to those in need. On 4 February the Convention abolished slavery in French colonies mostly affecting Saint-Domingue, Guadeloupe, and Guiana. The next day Robespierre presented his “Report on the Moral Principles that Must guide the Convention” in which he argued that terror without virtue is fatal but that virtue without terror is powerless. He said, “Terror is nothing but prompt, severe, inflexible justice.”5 On the 8th Saint-Just persuaded the Convention to sequester the goods of the Revolution’s enemies, and on 3 March watch committees were ordered to list their property so that it could be distributed to “indigent patriots.” On 10 February the Convention authorized manufacturer Claude Périer to produce rifles. On the 19th the Small Arms Agency appropriated churches’ lead roofs to make bullets.
      On 1 March the Convention elected Saint-Just their president. On the 4th Hébert threatened Robespierre, and an attempt to reconcile Jacobins and Cordeliers failed. Vincent urged the Cordeliers to use all terror. On the 6th Barère speaking for the Committee of Public Safety warned that foreign conspiracies threatened the Republic. On the 13th the Convention arrested for conspiracy Hébert, Vincent, Charles-Philippe Ronsin, Momoro, and other Cordeliers and foreigners including Cloots. After a trial with more than 200 witnesses the eighteen were found guilty and guillotined on the 24th. On the 27th the Convention ordered the Revolutionary Army disbanded. That day philosopher Condorcet was arrested, and he was found dead two days later. On the 28th the Commission on Provisions took over supplying Paris with bread and meat. Also in March after hearing about priests aiding desertions, French troops deported thousands of Basques from their homes in the Pyrenees.
      On 22 March Danton tried to reconcile his differences with Robespierre who complained that with Danton’s principles and morals no one would ever punish criminals. Danton asked for 73 deputies to be released, but Robespierre replied that the only way to establish liberty was to cut off the heads of criminals. Danton predicted that the Terror could not last long because it was against the French temperament.
      On the 30th the Committee of Public Safety arrested Danton, Desmoulins, and others for corruption. This crime was so widespread that Robespierre was considered a notable exception and was called “the Incorruptible.” He demanded conformity to the Revolution and punished dissenters. He called his campaign a “war against the factions.” Danton and his followers were called “Indulgents” because they called for an end to the terror and the foreign wars. Danton was suspected of using funds for himself when he was Minister of Justice and while meeting with French officers in Belgium. Jean-François Delacroix, Chabot, and Barras faced similar charges. Fabre, Chabot, and Joseph Delauney were involved in the scandal during the liquidation of the Indies Company. On 1 April Saint-Just read the charges, and the next day was about the Company of the Indies. On the 3rd Danton defended himself vehemently for most of the day and complained that they had not presented any documents or witnesses. The next day Saint-Just got a decree to prohibit the pleading of anyone accused of insulting “national justice,” and the jury convicted them. On 5 April the 16 including 9 deputies were guillotined.
      On 1 April the Convention replaced the Council of Ministers with twelve executive committees under the Committee of Public Safety. On the 13th the Revolutionary Tribunal executed 19 for a “prison conspiracy” including the radical philosopher Pierre-Gaspard Chaumette, Bishop Gobel, and the widows of Desmoulins and Hébert. Two days later Saint-Just made his last major speech describing the conspiracies that had tried to destroy the Revolution. The next day the Convention decreed the termination of the revolutionary tribunals in the provinces, and nobles and foreigners were expelled from Paris and fortified towns. The deputy Fouché had been recalled from his mission on 27 March, and 21 others were summoned on 19 April. On the 22nd the Revolutionary Tribunal executed the constitutional lawyers Thouret and Le Chapelet and the liberal Malesherbes who had defended Louis XVI.
      On 7 May Robespierre persuaded the Convention to decree, “The French people recognize the existence of the Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul,” and they proclaimed the duties

to detest bad faith and tyranny, to punish tyrants and traitors,
to aid the unfortunate, respect the weak,
defend the oppressed, do unto others all the good one can,
and to be unjust to no one.6

They also instituted festivals to celebrate the principles of the Revolution. The next day they executed former tax collectors including the renowned chemist Lavoisier. Mayor Pache was arrested on May 10. The next day they nationalized relief by providing free medical care at home, aid to mothers of large families, and pensions for the elderly. The Cordeliers and other political clubs dissolved themselves that spring. Only the Jacobins continued to flourish with many clubs in the provinces having a total membership of about one million. That spring bread rations were reduced by eight ounces per day to 16 for men and to 8 for those unemployed, women, and children, and in June to only four ounces for children.
      On 1 June the School for Mars was founded for 3,000 teenage boys. Robespierre presided over the Convention for 15 days in June. On the 8th he led the Festival of the Supreme Being that was arranged by the painter Jacques-Louis David. The guillotine was moved to the eastern fringe of Paris, and 2,400 Parisians sang in a chorus at the Place of the Revolution. The number of new songs increased year by year from 116 in 1789 to 701 in 1794.
      On 10 June Couthon’s law that streamlined judicial trials was passed, suppressing preliminary questioning, letting the court limit witnesses, and abolishing the right to a defense. Jurors were to use moral judgment rather than evidence. The Revolutionary Court had only two choices—the penalty of death or acquittal. One week later about sixty people were executed for an alleged conspiracy in an attempt to assassinate Robespierre on 24 May. This began the period called the “Great Terror” which took 1,376 lives in the next seven weeks compared to 1,251 in Paris in the previous 15 months. In June and July more prisoners were to be charged with conspiracy. In France the number of executions from May 1793 through July 1794 averaged about 1,350 per month, but in August 1794 there were only 86.
      In Year 2 of the Revolution the army was used to take resources from occupied nations and to send to France what they did not use. They had exploited the Palatinate in the winter. Austrians defeated the French near Le Cateau on 29 March, and with Dutch allies they captured Landrecies on 30 April. The Prince of Saxe-Coburg led the allies to Lille, but on 18 May the French army of the North with 70,000 men defeated them at Tourcoing. French forces had invaded Catalonia on 1 May. That month the Committee organized an evacuation agency for each army, and by July the operations were systematic. In the Spanish Pyrenees the foundries not used were destroyed. On 14 June a convoy of 150 ships from America managed to elude the powerful British navy to bring grain to the port of Brest and avert a famine in France. While General Pichegru’s forces were besieging Ypres for 18 days in June, Jean-Baptiste Jourdan’s French army of 90,000 men battled the Imperial Coalition for Charleroi and finally won a strategic victory at Fleurus on the 26th. The armies of Jourdan and Pichegru pursued the allies to Liège and Antwerp in July.
      The Committee of General Security was in charge of police and came to resent the Committee of Public Safety and Robespierre for creating their own police. The recalled envoys also resented and feared Robespierre. He was supported by Couthon and Saint-Just but was opposed now by Lazare Carnot, Billaud-Varenne and Collot d’Herbois who was complicit with Fouché at Lyons. On 14 July Robespierre persuaded the Jacobins Club to expel his bitter enemy Fouché. Robespierre’s declining health made him irritable, and he stopped attending Committee meetings, and for twenty days in July he did not appear at the Convention. Sixteen sisters from the Carmelite convent of Compiègne had withdrawn their oaths to liberty and equality and had corresponded with émigrés, and they were executed in Paris on 17 July.
      On 26 July Robespierre came to the Convention and read a long speech denouncing his critics but mentioning only Cambon. When asked to name the others, he refused. This increased resentment and fear, and that night the envoys fearing punishment met with the moderates who wanted to end the terror. The next day the deputies did not allow Saint-Just or Robespierre to speak by shouting “Tyrant!” The committees dismissed the National Guard commander Hanriot. They arrested the Revolutionary Tribunal president René François Dumas and indicted Robespierre. His brother Augustin, Saint-Just, Couthon, and Philippe François Lebas asked to join Robespierre and were also arrested. The Paris Commune declared an insurrection, and that evening 3,000 men gathered with thirty cannons at the Place de Grève. The attempted insurrection failed that night. Lebas committed suicide; Robespierre was shot in the jaw by himself or an invading guard; Augustin jumped out a window and broke his leg; and Couthon was injured as his wheelchair fell down stone stairs. On 28 July Robespierre, Saint-Just, Couthon, Dumas, and 18 others were guillotined. In the next three days 87 of the 140 members of the Paris Commune met the same fate.
      On 29 July the Convention reduced the authority of the Committee of Public Safety, and a quarter of its members were to be changed each month. They removed Robespierre’s followers from this committee and the General Security Committee.

French White Terror and a Directorate 1794-95

      On 1 August 1794 the Convention repealed the draconian law on trials passed on 10 June, and they reduced the jurisdiction of the Revolutionary Tribunal to charging those who took up arms against the Republic. Because of his support for Robespierre the painter David was arrested on the 2nd. General Napoleon Bonaparte had returned to Nice on 29 July and was arrested on August 9; but General Pierre Jadart Dumerbion released him on the 20th, and ten days later he returned to his duties. They also removed Robespierre’s followers from the Committee of Public Safety, and on the 24th the committee was limited to war and foreign affairs. That day the Convention’s Committee on Legislation took over the supervision of the executive commissions, and the watch committees in Paris were reduced from 48 to 12. During August they released about 3,500 suspects from the prisons of Paris. The Grenelle gunpowder factory in Paris blew up on 31 August, causing about 400 casualties. The Jacobins blamed counter-revolutionaries, and the Thermidorians (who had executed Robespierre during the month of Thermidor) accused the Jacobins; but it was probably an accident. Thermidorians sang Le reveil du peuple (The Revival of the People). During August 732,000 men were conscripted into the army.
      On 7 September the Jacobins managed to get price and wage maximums extended. On the 13th the 94 people from Nantes accused of being Federalists were acquitted in Paris. On 13 October Merlin de Thionville reported on the crimes perpetrated at Nantes by Carrier who was accused of having more than 2,400 people executed. Merlin was supported by the newly arisen Gilded Youth and urged that the Terror be put on trial. About 2,500 Gilded Youth were fops derisively called Muscadins after a perfume. On the 16th the Convention banned collective petitioning, and clubs were not allowed to affiliate or correspond with each other.
      On 3 November the new American minister James Monroe was able to get Tom Paine released from prison. On the 9th the Gilded Youth attacked the Jacobins Club, smashing windows and beating men and women. Hundreds came back two days later, and on the 12th the Convention ordered the Club closed. To show they were still republicans on the 15th they voted to affirm the sanctions against the aristocratic émigrés, and that day they repealed the Navigation Act in order to allow free sea trade with neutral countries. On 8 December the Convention reinstated the 73 deputies who had been expelled and arrested on 2 June 1793 and released in August 1794. Carrier and two others, who had been governing Nantes, were tried and executed on 16 November, but thirty others who were complicit in the atrocities were acquitted. On 24 December the economic maximums were abolished.
      On 2 January 1795 the Convention ended all restrictions on foreign trade. On the 18th the Dutch proclaimed the Batavian Republic. The next day General Pichegru’s army entered Amsterdam, and on the 23rd his cavalry captured the ice-bound Dutch fleet. On 2 February the White Terror began in Lyon with a massacre of Jacobins and other revolutionaries. La Jaunaye was pacified by the 17th, and the Convention granted amnesty and reimbursed for bonds issued by the rebels. Four days later they declared freedom of worship and the separation of church and state, though ringing bells and clerical clothes were still prohibited. On the 24th Joseph Lakanal persuaded the Convention to establish a central school in each province. On 3 March Napoleon sailed with 16,900 men on 15 ships to take Corsica away from the British, but a British squadron of 15 ships defeated the expedition by capturing two French ships. That day the Paris Bourse (stock exchange) was reopened, and on the 8th the Convention recalled outlawed Girondists.
      The winter of 1795 was extremely cold, and hunger riots in March culminated in a march of about 10,000 people on the Convention on 1 April that was dispersed by National Guards from prosperous neighborhoods. That night they ordered the deportation of Billaud-Varenne, Collot d’Herbois, Barère, and Marc-Guillaume Vadier to Guiana. On the 10th they ordered revolutionary terrorists disarmed, and six days later they appointed eleven members to draft a constitution. On the 21st they offered religious freedom and amnesty for deserters and Chouans in the west if they recognized the Republic. On 5 April Prussia had ceded the left bank of the Rhine to France in the treaty of Basel, and the Convention ratified it on the 14th. On the 26th they realized the extreme inflation of the paper money (assignats) and allowed trading of gold and silver. Napoleon was reinstated as a brigadier general and was sent to command the artillery of the Western Army in Brittany. About 283,000 French troops occupied Belgium, and in a treaty on 16 May the Dutch Batavian Republic ceded Flanders, Maastricht, and Venlo to France and paid an indemnity of 100 million florins. On 2 May Bishop Grégoire had begun publishing the Christian Philosophy Society’s weekly Annales de la religion.
      On 1 May the Convention decreed that anyone defaming deputies could be exiled for life. On the 4th about 30,000 white “anti-terrorists” murdered about 110 prisoners in Lyon, and about 40 were killed in Aix-en-Provence on the 11th. On the 7th Fouquier-Tinville and 14 jurors of the Revolutionary Tribunal were guillotined. On the 10th the daily bread ration was down to 60 grams. On the 21st a crowd of 20,000 gathered. Some of the National Guard joined them, and they entered the Convention shouting for bread and the 1793 constitution. The deputy Jean-Bertrand Féraud tried to speak to the crowd; but a woman shot him. The sansculottes killed him and put his head on a pike while they discussed issues with the Convention. The next day the Convention spoke of fraternity; but on the 23rd an army of 20,000 soldiers and 3,000 cavalry attacked the Faubourg St.-Antoine neighborhood which surrendered. More than 3,000 people were detained, but most were soon released. The Military Commission tried 132 rebels and executed 36, imprisoned 34, and deported 18. The Convention expelled 61 Montagnard deputies. This was followed by the arrest of 4,000 suspected Jacobins and sansculottes, and 1,700 lost their civil rights.
      In the west the Chouan royalists took up arms again. Jacobins were persecuted, deprived of offices, molested, and many fled. A military commission passed thirty death sentences, and the Convention had twelve deputies arrested. Jacobins took over Toulon on the 23rd, but six days later they were defeated attacking Marseilles. In many provinces the Jacobins were imprisoned or massacred. The Convention restored the property of the Revolution’s victims, pardoned the Federalists, and suppressed the Revolutionary Tribunal. On 30 May they returned churches to their worshippers.
      On 5 June young men in Marseilles slaughtered about 700 Jacobin prisoners in the Saint-Jean fort. On the 17th the Military Committee condemned six Montagnards to death in Paris. On the 27th counter-revolutionaries killed the members of the Revolutionary Tribunal of Orange in Avignon. After killing about 30,000 people, the Convention ended the White Terror by the end of the summer. Wearing the clothes of poor sansculottes became unfashionable as they could be arrested.
      On 7 June the French army took over the Duchy of Luxembourg from the Austrians who had governed there for 82 years. The next day royalists were disappointed when 10-year-old Louis XVII died. Madame Germaine de Staël reopened her salon in Paris. On the 24th Louis XVI’s brother, the Count of Provence, in Verona declared himself Louis XVIII and issued a manifesto promising to restore the old order.
      On 21 June the Convention recognized that the assignats had fallen to 8% of their nominal value. One week later the British landed 8,000 soldiers at Quiberon in Brittany; but on 5 July about 13,000 Republican troops defeated 5,000 Chouan forces and arrested hundreds. The next week another 6,000 Chouans arrived and were joined by 2,000 émigré soldiers. General Lazare Hoche’s republicans attacked at night on 20 July, and the next day 6,332 royalists surrendered; but the promise not to execute any was not kept, and a firing squad killed 750 émigrés in British uniforms including 430 nobles. On the 24th Marie Joseph Chénier in the Convention criticized the White Terror ravaging Lyons and southern France. On 2 August the royalist François de Charette took revenge for the slaughter of the émigrés by killing 300 republican prisoners at Belleville.
      On 4 July 1795 the painter David was tried and released, and the National Convention began debating a new constitution drafted by Pierre Daunou and other Girondists. On the 7th Tom Paine urged universal suffrage to no avail. A week later they proclaimed the “Marseillaise” the national anthem. On the 17th General Moncey’s French army conquered Vittoria, and two days later they captured Bilbao, driving the Spaniards across the Ebro River. On the 22nd France made a treaty with Spain.
      On 22 August the Convention approved the new Constitution and the new National Institute of Science. The 750 legislators elected were to be in the Council of 500 Deputies that made the laws that were to be approved or rejected by the 250 in the Council of Elders which was chosen by lots from the married and widowed deputies in the 500 over 40 years of age who had lived in France for the past 15 years. The Constitution had 377 articles and included nine “Duties of a Man and Citizen.” The second principle was:

Do not do unto others
what you would not have them to unto you.
Always do unto others what you would like to receive.

Citizens could only exercise their political rights through the primary or municipal assemblies. Individuals could petition but not collectively, and any armed gathering was to be dispersed by force. Most men could vote for electors who had to own property worth 100 days labor, making about 30,000 people eligible to be electors. Deputies could be re-elected every three years, and no government minister could be in the councils. The Treasury was to be run by six commissioners elected by the Elders. They were also to elect the five Directors from ten nominees for each position named by the Five Hundred. Each year one director would be replaced, and one-third of the deputies would be elected. The new constitution was designed to protect the Republic against the extremes of populism and royalism as a representative democracy with free expression, legal equality, and human rights with little religious authority.
      On 1 September the Convention restored the right to vote in the revolutionary sectors in order to counter the royalists. On the 4th Madame de Staël persuaded the Convention to remove Talleyrand from the list of émigrés. They put the Constitution to a vote along with their proviso that in the first election the Convention would elect two-thirds of the deputies from among themselves. On 6 September voters approved the Constitution 916,334 to 41,892, but the vote for the Two-thirds Decree was only 205,498 to 108,754. The new legislature and the Directorate of Paul Barras, Abbé Sieyès, Louis Marie de La Révellière-Lépeaux, Jean-François Reubell, and Étienne-François Letourneur began on the 25th. That day at Saint Cyr a republican army defeated a royalist force of 8,000 men led by Charette. On the 29th the Convention declared the separation of church and state, and on 1 October they approved the annexation of Belgium.
      A royalist insurrection in nearby Dreux that had begun on 13 September had to be dispersed with violence on 3 October. The next day a crowd gathered in Paris to protest the election with its two-thirds rule, and they demanded revenge against terrorists. On the 5th about 25,000 insurgents with National Guards from seven sections marched against the new government, and the new commander Barras assisted by Napoleon opposed them with a force of 4,000 soldiers. Artillery began the battle that lasted seven hours into the night. About 1,400 were killed, and afterward the army disbanded the National Guard. A court condemned 49 populists, but only two were executed. On the 10th the legislature abolished section assemblies and sectional control of National Guard units.
      In the elections on 12 October at first only 379 deputies were elected by about 15% of the eligible voters, mostly rightists or suspected royalists, but the Convention completed the 750 with their deputies. Since August Napoleon Bonaparte had been working for the Committee of Pubic Safety in the Topographical Bureau, and on 16 October he was promoted to major general. Barras resigned as the Interior Army’s commander and was replaced by Napoleon on the 25th. That day the Convention decreed that pupils’ fees would pay teachers with one school in each canton and separate schools for girls who were to be taught useful skills. On the same day they banned relatives of émigrés from holding office. On the 26th they granted a general amnesty of revolutionary actions excluding émigrés, deportees, those in the 4-6 October rebellion, and forgers. Yet more than 35,000 people lost their civic rights. The Convention established five more annual festivals to celebrate Youth, Old Age, Spouses, Thanksgiving, and Agriculture.
      Sieyès declined to serve as a director, and the Elders replaced him by electing Lazare Carnot on 5 November. The next day Fréron arrived in Marseilles to stop royalist terror and removed municipal officials. On the 24th the French army of 25,000 men defeated 18,000 Austrians at Loano near Genoa. On 3 December the Directory established the Bureau for Examination of Public Papers to monitor public opinion and the Private Office for Surveillance to investigate secretly the police. Three days later the police reported that the new Pantheon Club now had about 3,000 Jacobins.

Condorcet’s Philosophy and Babeuf’s Equality

      Nicolas de Condorcet (1743-94) had been advocating the abolition of slavery for many years, but on 24 September 1789 the Constituent Assembly conceded to colonial assemblies the authority related to the civil status of slaves. On 15 December he published a long article in the Journal de Paris strongly condemning the slave trade. Also in 1789 he published his Life of Voltaire that described his opposition to religious fanaticism.
      On 3 July 1790 Condorcet published an article advocating citizenship for women including the right to vote, and he often spoke for educating all the people. He asked if they were not violating the principle of equality by denying it to half the human race. He argued that women deserve natural rights because they are as capable as men to exercise them, and depriving them is tyranny. He noted that women are superior to men in the gentle and domestic virtues. The main differences between the sexes are because of education and social status. The dependence of wives on their husbands has also been imposed by tyrannical laws. Women may have responsibilities in the home, but that is also true of men who work on farms and in workshops. Condorcet argued that granting women equality would improve domestic relations and decrease corruption.
      Condorcet wrote five articles on public education in 1791, and in April he was allowed to present his ideas to the Legislative Assembly. He argued that society has the responsibility to provide people with pubic instruction in order to make equal rights a reality. Inequality should not be allowed because it brings dependency. Inequality can be reduced by developing moral sentiments and useful knowledge for living, occupations, and the arts. Wider education will promote social progress. All people deserve the opportunity to develop their abilities. Education enables the culture of preceding generations to be passed on, and in the modern age nations need more education to adjust to rapid changes. Children and adults require differing instruction which should be divided into levels. Those with specialized occupations also need general education. Condorcet warned that public authority has no right to teach opinions as truths nor to limit ethics to what religion teaches. Education for women should be the same as for men, and women should have the equal right to be teachers. Condorcet’s plan for educating all boys and girls was approved on 20 December 1790.
      In July 1793 Condorcet retreated into hiding during the Terror and worked on his Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind, and after his death in prison in March 1794 the introduction to that work was published as The Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind. He began by noting that humans are born with the ability to perceive sensations and distinguish them, remember them, combine them as ideas, compare the ideas, and form new ones. Sensations are pleasant and painful, and humans can observe these in others. Humans form ideas of interest and duty. The human mind progresses by developing mental faculties according to general laws. Thus over centuries humans make progress toward truth and happiness, and there is no limit to human perfectibility.
      Condorcet described the following ten stages of civilization: hunting and fishing, domesticating animals and agriculture, developing alphabetical writing, dividing sciences in Greece, scientific progress and decline, rebirth of learning during the Crusades, revival of learning and the invention of printing, philosophy and science rebelling against authority, advance of philosophy and science from Descartes to the French Revolution, and the future progress of humanity.
      Prejudices can harm the progress of truth, and only by meditation can one combine ideas and discover general truths. He noted that humanity was then in a great revolution. Humans are capable of reasoning and acquiring moral ideas to preserve rights and distribute them with equality to people. He believed that the will of the majority can be accepted by all without losing equality. He observed that the ideas of Locke were given “greater precision, breadth, and energy” by Rousseau. Coins or money can be used for trading articles of value, and the public authority can acquire funds for the security of the state and protect individual rights. After the treaty of Utrecht in 1713 Europeans enjoyed peace and a period of intellectual development, and they improved the methods of the physical sciences. People challenged tyranny and barbarism with “reason, tolerance, and humanity.” The printing press had multiplied the number of books spreading knowledge.
      The desire for freedom of thought, writing, trade, and industry, alleviated human suffering and led to understanding the natural human rights. Philosophers of different nations worked together against errors and tyranny. While some greedy men exploited people in Africa, Asia, and America, a few English and French philosophers became friends of the dark races whom tyrants refused to consider as humans. Beccaria denounced barbaric French laws. Turgot, Price, and Priestley argued for human perfectibility. English men in America refused to pay taxes imposed without their consent, and they set up thirteen republican constitutions based on natural rights. In France the revolution was more violent because they had to overcome feudal tyrannies, hereditary privileges, religious intolerance, and economic inequality. Science advanced by improving mathematical analysis and understanding electricity. The sciences of anatomy and experimental chemistry led to the arts of surgery and pharmacy. Abuses in politics and morals derive from philosophical errors. Prejudices and Machiavellian principles have opposed human progress.
      Condorcet believed that by understanding the laws of phenomena one can predict future progress. He hoped for a future that would abolish inequality between nations and within each nation, and that would perfect humanity. He diagnosed that the destruction of freedom in ancient republics was caused by inequality in wealth, inequality in status based on hereditary privilege versus the working class, and inequality in education. In his own time he observed that those who live on land revenue or interest on capital are nearly free of work, and this inequality threatened the most numerous class. He believed that equality in education is the greatest remedy for removing inequality in industry and wealth. He suggested that advances in mineralogy, botany, zoology, and meteorology will develop better agricultural production for an increasing population, and people will have less work to do and will live much longer.
      He acknowledged that many problems regarding social relations need to be solved to establish the rights of all. Most important is progress in the practice and science of morality in order to assure the general welfare. People need to learn how to identify their happiness with that of others. The path of virtue will be less arduous when the temptations are fewer. When legislation is based on the truths of political science humanity will move toward benevolence and justice. One of the most important ways to achieve general happiness is to remove the prejudices that have caused the inequality of rights between the sexes.
      War is the most dreadful scourge and the worst crime. He predicted,

Nations will learn that they cannot conquer other nations
without losing their own liberty;
that permanent confederations are their only means
of preserving their independence;
and that they should seek not power but security.7

Mercantile prejudices will fade away, and commercial interests will not cause bloodshed and ruin nations. When nations agree on the principles of politics and morality, in their own better interests they will share equally all the benefits. Then national conflicts will disappear. Scientific progress improves education which advances the sciences. Preventive medicine and healthy food and housing will help remove the causes of deterioration—misery and excessive wealth. As people make progress in reason and defense of liberty, they will no longer be tormented and corrupted by greed, fear, or envy.

      François-Noël Babeuf was born on 23 November 1760 near Saint-Quentin. In 1789 he wrote a cahier for the electors of Roye urging the abolition of feudal privileges, and he started writing pamphlets in 1790. His song “Dying of hunger, dying of cold” was popular in Parisian cafés. In September 1794 he began publishing the Journal of Press Freedom (Tribune of the People) using the pen-name Caius Gracchus. In February 1795 Babeuf was forced to stop publishing his Tribune of the People, and six days later he was arrested. On 6 November he was released and resumed the People’s Tribune. On the 30th Babeuf released his Plebeian Manifesto that called for communism with equal property. On 28 February 1796 Napoleon implemented the Directory’s order to close the Pantheon Club for defending Babeuf who was arrested again. On 30 March Babeuf and Philippe Buonarroti formed an insurrectional committee called the “conspiracy of equals,” and they were arrested on 10 May. On 20 February 1797 the trial of the communist Babeuf and 54 other Equals began at Vendôme. On 27 May Babeuf and one other were executed as other Equals were sentenced to prison. Sylvain Maréchal (1750-1803) put Babeuf’s ideas together in the Manifesto of the Equals in 1796 and published it again in 1801. The document begins,

Real Equality—The Last End of the Social Art.
—Condorcet, Picture of the Human Mind.
   People of France!
During fifteen ages you have lived slaves,
and consequently unhappy.
During six years you breathe with difficulty in the expectation
of independence, of prosperity, and of equality.
   Equality!—first vow of nature, first want of man,
and chief bond of all legitimate association!...
From time immemorial we have been hypocritically told—
men are equal; and from time immemorial
does the most degrading and monstrous inequality
insolently oppress the human race.
Equality has never been other than
a beautiful and barren fiction of law.
Even now, when it is claimed with a stronger voice,
we are answered, “Be silent, miserables!—
absolute equality is but a chimaera;
be content with conditional equality;
you are all equal before the law….
We aim at something more sublime, and more equitable;
we look to common property, or the community of goods!
No more individual property in lands.
The earth belongs to no one.
We claim—we demand—
we will the communal enjoyment of the fruits of the earth;
the fruits belong to all….
   Let there be no longer any other differences in mankind
than those of age and sex.
Since all have the same wants, and the same faculties,
let all have accordingly the same education—
the same nourishment….
Let everything revert to order, and resume its proper place.
At the voice of equality,
let the elements of justice and felicity be organized.
The moment has come to found the Republic of Equals
the grand asylum open to all human kind.8

Babeuf probably wrote “Analysis of the Doctrine of Babeuf,” and here are the first eleven articles:

1) Nature has given to each individual an equal right
to the enjoyment of all the goods of life.
2) The end of society is to defend this equality,
often assailed by the strong and wicked in the state of nature;
and to augment, by the co-operation of all,
the common enjoyments of all.
3) Nature has imposed on each person the obligation to work;
nobody could, without crime,
evade his share of the common labor.
4) Labor and enjoyments ought to be common.
5) There is oppression wherever one part of society
is exhausted by labor, and in want of everything,
while the other part wallows in abundance,
without doing any work at all.
6) Nobody could, without crime, exclusively appropriate
to himself the goods of the earth or of industry.
7) In a veritable society there ought to be
neither rich nor poor.
8) The rich, who are not willing to renounce their superfluities
in favor of the indigent, are the enemies of the people.
9) No one can, by accumulating to himself all the means,
deprive another of the instruction necessary for his happiness.
Instruction ought to be common to all.
10). The end of the French Revolution is to destroy inequality,
and to re-establish general prosperity.
11) The Revolution is not terminated,
because the rich absorb all valuable productions,
and command exclusively; while the poor toil like real slaves,
pine in misery, and count for nothing in the State.9


1. The French Revolution and Human Rights: A Brief Documentary History tr. Lynn Hunt.
2. Quoted in The Coming of the Terror in the French Revolution by Timothy Tackett, p. 89.
3. Quoted in The French Revolution from Enlightenment to Tyranny by Ian Davidson, p. 83.
4. Witness to the Revolution by Burley, p. 155 quoted in The Terror: The Merciless War for Freedom in Revolutionary France by David Andress, p. 179.
5. Quoted in Robespierre: A Revolutionary Life by Peter McPhee, p. 186.
6. Documents ed. Roberts and Hardmann, p. 244 quoted in The Terror: The Merciless War for Freedom in Revolutionary France by David Andress, p. 303-304.
7. Selected Writings by Condorcet ed. Keith Michael Baker, p. 275.
8. French Utopias: An Anthology of Ideal Societies tr. Frank E. Manuel and Fritzie P. Manuel, p. 247-249.
9. Ibid., p. 250-257.

Copyright © 2018 by Sanderson Beck

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France’s Revolution 1789-95
France & Napoleon’s Rise & Fall 1796-1815
France of Louis XVIII & Charles X 1814-30
Britain’s Reaction to France 1789-1799
Britain: War and Recovery 1800-30
Romantic Era of English Literature 1789-1830
Germans, Austria & Swiss 1789-1830
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Spain, Portugal and Italy 1789-1830
Netherlands and Scandinavia 1789-1830
Poland, Russia & Greek Revolution 1789-1830
Summary and Evaluating Europe 1789-1830


Chronology of Europe 1716-1830
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