Thomas Jefferson: A Biography

By Nathan Schachner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 28 French Revolution

THE French Revolution was now well under way. With notable reluctance the King had issued a writ convoking the States-General and, from February through May, 1789, all France was engrossed in a complicated system of voting. The composition of the Nobles and the Clergy was pretty well fixed; what attracted the most excitement was the Third Estate --the representatives of the people of France.

While the balloting was still going on, Jefferson expressed his satisfaction with the way the revolution was progressing. He was certain that it would be peaceful and that a fairly good constitution would result from the deliberations of the forthcoming States-General. True, he thought that the assemblage of 1,200 was entirely too numerous for a proper job of legislating, and that they "have indeed a miserable old canvas to work on, covered with daubings which it will be difficult to efface"; but he believed that "some they will efface, & some soften, so as to make a tolerable thing of it, perhaps a good one."1

In fine, to Jefferson the revolution was already accomplished--merely by the force of public opinion--and nothing remained but to put the result's into writing.

The States-General opened at Versailles on May 5, 1789, with considerable pomp and ceremony, and Jefferson journeyed daily from Paris to witness its proceedings. Though his interest was largely, by reason of his principles, concentrated on the Third Estate. he knew far more intimately many of the representatives of the Nobles. Among them were Lafayette, now thirty-two; his brother-in-law, the Vicomte de Noailles, similarly known to Jefferson from American days; the Duc de la Rochefoucauld, and others whom he had met in the Parisian salons. Among the Clergy he knew the Abbé Maury and had doubtless met the most famous of them all, the brilliant, unscrupulous Talleyrand, Bishop of Autun, though no one in the world could have been less properly cast in the role of an ecclesiastic than he. Among the representatives who crowded the benches of the Third Estate was a group of scientists and scholars with whom Jefferson was acquainted--notably Bailly and Volney. He did not know a small, precise, pallid lawyer who came inconspicuously from the provincial town of Arras one Maximilien Robespierre--and it was doubtful that he had yet encountered the dissipated nobleman Mirabeau who, rejected by his own Order, had triumphantly been returned to the States General by the Third Estate.

Jefferson harkened to the speeches in the Salle des Menus Plaisirs and

-371-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Thomas Jefferson: A Biography
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 1074

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.