The Life and Works of Thomas Paine - Vol. 7

By Thomas Paine; William M. Van der Weyde | Go to book overview

ADDRESS TO THE PEOPLE OF FRANCE

FELLOW CITIZENS, I receive, with affectionate gratitude, the honor which the late National Assembly has conferred upon me, by adopting me a citizen of France: and the additional honor of being elected by my fellow citizens a member of the National Convention. Happily impressed, as I am, by those testimonies of respect shown toward me as an individual, I feel my felicity increased by seeing the barrier broken down that divided patriotism by spots of earth, and limited citizenship to the soil, like vegetation. Had those honors been conferred in an hour of national tranquillity, they

THE French National Assembly, on August 26, 1792, had voted the title of citizen to Paine, along with Washington, Hamilton, Madison and a number of European liberal leaders such as Bentham, Wilberforce, Klopstock and Kosciusko. This address in acknowledgment of the honor was made on September 25 of "the first year of the Republic."

Several departments had elected Paine as their deputy to the French Convention, and on his arrival from England he had accepted the election of Pas-de- Calais, and attended the sessions of the Convention.

Had Napoleon remembered and considered one paragraph of this address he might never have led his army on the disastrous march to Moscow in 1812. It reads: "Were it now to be proposed to the Austrians and Prussians [with whom France was then at war] to escort them into the middle of France, and there leave them to make the most of such a situation, they would see too much into the dangers of it to accept the offer."

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