Policing Public Opinion in the French Revolution: The Culture of Calumny and the Problem of Free Speech

By Charles Walton | Go to book overview

NOTES

Introduction

1. AN AF II, carton 45, doc. 44, the letter is dated May 6, 1793.

2. Thomas Paine, The Genuine Trial of Thomas Paine, for a Libel Contained in the Second Part of Rights of Man (London: J. S. Jordan, 1792).

3. AN F7 4432, in [Louis] Mortimer-Ternaux, Histoire de la Terreur, 3rd ed. (Paris: Lévy Frères, 1869), 7:310, fn. 1.

4. AN AF II, 45, doc. 44.

5. The Law of Suspects called for the arrest of those who “by their remarks or their writings show themselves to be the partisans of tyranny or federalism and the enemies of freedom.” In its ordinance of October 10, 1793, seven of the twelve criteria defined to identify suspects involved speech, including expressing doubts about the Constitution of 1793 and speaking with contempt or derision of authorities, symbols of the law, popular societies, or leaders of the Revolution. See Richard Mowery Andrews, “Boundaries of Citizenship: The Penal Regulation of Speech in Revolutionary France,” French Politics and Society 7, no. 3 (Summer 1989): 92–93. Inaugurating the most intense phase of judicial repression, the Prairial Law of June 10, 1794, prohibited all “insidious writings” that sought to “disparage the National Convention,” “calumniate patriotism,” “inspire discouragement,” “mislead opinion,” and “corrupt the public conscience.” John Hall Stewart, A Documentary Survey of the French Revolution (New York: Macmillan, 1951), 528–531.

6. Donald Greer, The Incidence of the Terror during the French Revolution: A Statistical Interpretation (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1935), 85, 152.

7. Jacques Godechot, “La Presse française sous la Révolution et l’Empire,” in Histoire générale de la presse française, ed. Claude Bellanger et al. (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1969), 1:405–569; Mona Ozouf, “Public Spirit,” in Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution, ed. François Furet and Mona Ozouf, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1989), 771–780. Notable exceptions to this interpretation include recent studies by Carla Hesse and Sophia Rosenfeld. Both historians stress how freedom of expression after 1789 generated problems for which revolutionaries sought legal, administrative, and cultural solutions. In her Publishing and Cultural Politics in Revolutionary Paris, 1789–1810 (Berkeley: University of California Press,

-239-

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