Sieyes: His Life and His Nationalism

Sieyes: His Life and His Nationalism

Sieyes: His Life and His Nationalism

Sieyes: His Life and His Nationalism

Excerpt

Any study connected with the French Revolution is bound to be interesting for the one who undertakes it, if not for those whose lot it is to scan the results. The tremendous drama of that great movement, its swift succession of events, where tragedy and comedy so intermingled, these alone make it fascinating. There is more than this for the student or lover of history. The Revolution saw the end of an old order; its evangels heralded the coming of a new. Social and political inequality, time-honored forms of government, the conservative point of view that is the inevitable accompaniment of long stabilized institutions, all these were rocked to their foundations by the all-compelling advance of liberty, equality, and fraternity.

One of the modern developments directly stimulated by this great upheaval is nationalism, and a main part of the following biography of Sieyes concerns his nationalist tendencies. I have not attempted to picture him as a fullfledged, extreme nationalist; that he was not. And in this study of his career I have sought carefully to avoid a biased viewpoint, or any exaggeration or distortion of facts and situations that would lead to false conclusions. Such a course is hard to hold, and nationalism itself, like all the great forces which motivate mankind, offers peculiar difficulties of definition. But, whether this attempt has been a success or a failure, I have at least tried to follow in the footsteps of Ranke and present the life and aims of Sieyes as they really were.

This book owes much of whatever merit it possesses to the helpful criticisms and suggestions of Professor Carlton J. H. Hayes . . .

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