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A Positive American View

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Benjamin Franklin Bache, grandson on Benjamin Franklin, was a supporter of Jefferson’s Republican Party. His sympathetically summarized the situation in France during the period when Louis XVI was put on trial and executed. He defended the actions of the revolutionaries on the grounds that they were merely responding to the provocations of nobles and other "traitors." Even through the Terror... Read More »

A Positive View?

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This composition of the scene, in which a helpless Louis seems to be looking upward to heaven with his confessor, communicates humility. The executioners are relatively passive, leaving the King and confessor center stage. This reveals that in mortal death, the King had a chance to look better than his tormentors. Although this print was undoubtedly produced significantly after the fact,... Read More »

A Royal History

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This 1790 article from the Journal Universel, a leading radical newspaper, recounts the long desperate history of the monarchy that ironically led the revolution.

A Second Jean d'Arc

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To those who considered Marat insincere and dangerous in his unrelenting populism, the true martyr was Charlotte Corday, who had come to Paris from Caen—a city then serving as a base for the federalist insurgency—apparently with the express intent of killing Marat. In this engraving by the English caricaturist Cruikshank, Corday is depicted as "A Second Joan of Arc," saving her country by... Read More »

A Woman’s Cahier

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This grievance was signed by a certain Madame B*** B*** whose identity is unknown. The provenance appears to be Normandy. Another version of this text, located and republished in the late nineteenth century, is signed by Marie, veuve de Vuigneras, also from Normandy. According to contextual evidence, this document followed the convocation of the Estates–General and the call for the collection... Read More »

Abbé Grégoire, "Memoir in Favor of the People of Color or Mixed–Race of Saint Domingue" (1789)

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Baptiste–Henri Grégoire was a parish priest who was elected to the National Assembly by the clergy of Lorraine. He championed the rights of minorities both before the Revolution and in the legislature. The most noted beneficiaries of his attention were Jews and free blacks. He thought giving rights to Jews would encourage assimilation, while giving free blacks a greater stake in society would... Read More »

Abbé Maury, "Speech," 23 December 1789

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Although he himself came from a family that had been forced to convert from Calvinism to Catholicism by the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, Abbé Jean–Siffrein Maury (1746–1817) made his reputation as a spokesman for the interests of the Catholic Church, the monarchy’s authority, and the established social hierarchy. Here he attacks Clermont–Tonnerre’s propositions and recapitulates... Read More »

Abolition of Nobility

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The major principle underlying the 4 August decree found legislative expression in the decree of 19 June 1790. Situated in the broader context of the French Revolution, this document legally abolished the nobility, all its privileges, and, as the excerpt demonstrates, those aspects that seemed particularly contrary to reason.

Abstention Rate in Napoleonic Plebiscites

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All regions of France did not support Napoleon equally. His rule aroused most enthusiasm in the east (a prerevolutionary border region crucial in the Napoleonic wars) and the center of the country, least in the west, which had long provided a home to royalist counterrevolution.

Abstension rate in Napoleonic plebiscites (shaded areas = those where the abstention rate exceeded 80 percent... Read More »

Abuses to Suppress

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This French Revolution era print depicts the Third Estate—represented by the peasant at the rear of the chariot, the worker leading the horse, and the merchant driving—delivering to the National Assembly a petition listing "abuses" to be remedied.

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