The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook

By Philip G. Dwyer; Peter McPhee | Go to book overview

15

THE DIRECTORY

Boissy d'Anglas on the Constitution of 1795

After Thermidor the deputies now dominant in the Convention sought a political settlement that would stabilise the Revolution and end popular upheaval. The Constitution of Year III (August 1795) restricted participation in electoral assemblies by wealth, age and education as well as by sex. The social rights in the Constitution of 1793 were removed; indeed, the declaration of rights was replaced by a declaration of duties. The Constitution was put to the electorate: perhaps 1.3 million men voted in favour and 50,000 against, considerably fewer votes than for its predecessor in 1793. In this extract Boissy d'Anglas, one of the framers of the Constitution, outlines to an appreciative Convention the social bases of a stable political régime.

Finally the happy hour has arrived when, ceasing to be the gladiators of liberty, we can be its true founders. I no longer see in this assembly the villains who tarnished it; the archways of this temple no longer echo with their bloody vociferation, with their treacherous propositions. Our deliberations are no longer chained by the tyranny of the décemvirs, they will no longer be led astray by the demagogy of their accomplices. Their many and fierce satellites, disarmed, vanquished, imprisoned, will no longer have the insolence to bring their daggers here, and to point out their victims among you. Crime lives alone in the dungeons; industry and innocence have come out from there to revive agriculture, and to give their lives to commerce….

You must offer to the French nation the republican Constitution that ensures its independence; you must, with its imminent establishment, finally guarantee the property of the rich man, the existence of the pauper, the enjoyment of the industrious man, the freedom and the safety of all. You must make the French people, in the midst of the nations that surround them, take the rank that their nature assigns them, and the influence that their strength, their knowledge, their

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The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations xi
  • Preface xiii
  • A Note on the Revolutionary Calendar xv
  • Chronology xvi
  • 1 - The Ancien RÉgime Challenged 1
  • 2 - Revolutionary Action 16
  • 3 - Creating a Regenerated France 24
  • 4 - Exclusions and Inclusions 35
  • 5 - The Church and the Revolutionary State 43
  • 6 - Monarchy and Revolution 51
  • 7 - The Revolution at War 60
  • 8 - The End of the Monarchy 68
  • 9 - The Peasantry and the Rural Environment 80
  • 10 - A New Civic Culture 84
  • 11 - The Republic at War 90
  • 12 - Revolt in the VendÉe 97
  • 13 - The Terror at Work 103
  • 14 - The Thermidorian Reaction 115
  • 15 - The Directory 121
  • 16 - Bonaparte 128
  • 17 - Law and Order 140
  • 18 - Rule by Plebiscite 149
  • 19 - Governing the Empire 155
  • 20 - Resistance and Repression 169
  • 21 - The Russian Catastrophe 175
  • 22 - Collapse 187
  • 23 - The Hundred Days 193
  • 24 - French Men and Women Reflect 202
  • Index 209
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