The Revolutionary Era: Primary Documents on Events from 1776 to 1800

By Carol Sue Humphrey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 16

The Early Years of the French Revolution, 1789–1793

Some would argue that the world changed forever on July 14, 1789. On that day, more than 300 irate French citizens stormed the Bastille, an old jail that many saw as representative of the repression of the French monarchy. In attacking the fortress, the crowd hoped to free political prisoners and to acquire guns and ammunition. When it was all over, only 1 French soldier was dead and 3 were wounded, but 83 members of the crowd were dead while 73 were wounded. However, the garrison at the Bastille had surrendered. Thus began the French Revolution.

In the first stages of the French Revolution, the leaders called for freedom for the people and sought to create a legal code that treated everyone equally. In seeking these goals, the leaders of the Revolution abolished the French monarchy and adopted a republican form of government that provided for a legislature elected by the middle-class members of society. They also adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen to spell out the rights of the people that should be protected and not infringed upon by the government.

During the early days of the French Revolution, many Americans rejoiced at the efforts to bring freedom and republican government to France. Many people, both in France and the United States, believed that France was following the American example and was only the first of many countries that would move from a tyrannical monarchy to freedom. Some of the leaders in the early stages of the French Revolution had fought with the French army in America during the American Revolution. Leading the list of these veterans was the Marquis de Lafayette. He truly hoped to introduce his country to the new ideas of freedom and liberty coming out of the United States. He saw the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen as the French version of the Declaration of Independence and rejoiced as his

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The Revolutionary Era: Primary Documents on Events from 1776 to 1800
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Foreword vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Chronology of Events xix
  • Chapter 1 1
  • Chapter 2 33
  • Chapter 3 49
  • Chapter 4 67
  • Note 79
  • Chapter 5 81
  • Chapter 6 93
  • Chapter 7 105
  • Chapter 8 119
  • Chapter 9 127
  • Chapter 10 137
  • Chapter 11 161
  • Chapter 12 181
  • Chapter 13 189
  • Chapter 14 201
  • Note 210
  • Chapter 15 211
  • Chapter 16 223
  • Chapter 17 233
  • Chapter 18 243
  • Chapter 19 253
  • Chapter 20 263
  • Chapter 21 277
  • Chapter 22 295
  • Chapter 23 303
  • Chapter 24 313
  • Chapter 25 323
  • Notes 335
  • Chapter 26 337
  • Selected Bibliography 349
  • Index 353
  • About the Author 359
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