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"I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier" [Song]

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By 1915, Americans began debating the need for military and economic preparations for war. Strong opposition to "preparedness" came from isolationists, socialists, pacifists, many Protestant ministers, German Americans, and Irish Americans (who were hostile to Britain). One of the hit songs of 1915, "I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier," by lyricist Alfred Bryan and composer Al Piantadosi,... Read More »

"Letter from a Gentleman in Paris to His Friend in London" (1757)

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The news of Robert–François Damiens’s attack on the King and his subsequent trial spread rapidly and generated great interest across France and all of Europe. This pamphlet, published in London, describes for English readers the goings–on in Paris, especially the public outpouring of sympathy for the King and the general hostility toward Damiens. Damiens, even for this English observer, was... Read More »

"The Royal Orgy" (1789)

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In 1789, with the collapse of old regime censorship as well as a sense of liberation from traditional moral constraints, printed libels against the Queen became both more common and more intense. An example of this greater intensity is this light opera, with raunchy lyrics set to popular tunes. Not intended to be performed, the pamphlet spoofs the Queen’s great interest in opera and her... Read More »

"The Song of the End": The Whole World Now Chases Him

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Where Napoleon was once the conqueror, the world now avenges itself. This sense of reversal, felt widely outside of France, characterized a number of the caricatures of Napoleon, and indeed of the entire Revolution.

Thumbnail of a older photograph depicting a girl sucking her thumb

19th-century American Children and What They Read

Review
19th-century American Children and What They Read is a website born of a passion for exactly that—material written for children, and occasionally by children, in the 19th century.

A Bread Riot

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Bread was the basic staple of most people’s diets, and variations in the price of bread were keenly felt by the poor, especially by women who most frequently bought bread in the marketplace. Women would sometimes protest against what they thought to be unjust price increases for bread in what were known as "bread riots." As this excerpt shows, these were not usually violent, nor did they... Read More »

A Conqueror of the Bastille Speaks

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Having assembled at the traditional protest place in front of the City Hall, known as place des grèves (meaning sandbar, which it was, but which has come to mean "strike"), the crowd set off in search of ammunition. Eventually arriving at the Bastille, the crowd demanded that the few guardians of the fortress surrender. One participant, Keversau, here describes in heroic terms the event that... Read More »

A Defender of the Bastille Explains His Role

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The soldiers stationed at the fortress did not see themselves as resisting the Revolution so much as keeping watch on a rather insignificant outpost that had nothing at all to do with the major events transpiring in Versailles. In this passage, a Swiss officer named Louis de Flue describes how his contingent was overrun and how he was brought back to the City Hall where, to his surprise, he... Read More »

A Democrat, or Reason and Philosophy

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This cartoon by the popular British caricaturist James Gillray depicts the British politician Charles James Fox as a sans–culotte. Wearing a cockade in his wig and a bandage on his forehead, the unshaven Fox raises his bloody left hand as he lifts his left leg to break wind. Notice his torn shirt, the bloody dagger in his belt, and the fact that he wears no pants. He sings the popular... Read More »

A Deputation of Women Citizens Demands Action on Food Prices (24 February 1793)

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In the rioting over prices of February 1793, women appealed first to the authorities, showing that they intended to communicate directly with their representatives in the municipal government of Paris. By explicitly referring to themselves as "citizens," these women publicly claimed their right to be heard.

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