The Life and Works of Thomas Paine - Vol. 7

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

REASONS FOR PRESERVING THE LIFE OF LOUIS CAPET

CITIZEN PRESIDENT: My hatred and abhorrence of monarchy are sufficiently known: they originate in principles of reason and conviction, nor, except with life, can they ever be extirpated; but my compassion for the unfortunate, whether friend or enemy, is equally lively and sincere.

A FRENCH translation of this address was read to the National Convention, January 15, 1793, Paine's mastery of the French language being limited. It will be noted that the author of the "Rights of Man," of "Common Sense" and of "The American Crisis" urges that Louis XVI be given an asylum in America "far removed from the miseries and crimes of royalty."

Later on, while Paine was in prison for ten months in Paris, he was accused in England and America of having speeded the death of Louis XVI. A preface to the 1796 publication in England of this address describes it as "a burnt offering to Truth, in behalf of the most zealous friend and advocate of the Rights of Man; to protect him against the barbarous shafts of scandal and delusion, as a reply to all the horrors which despots of every description have, with such unrelenting malice, attempted to fix on his conduct."

I voted that Louis should be tried, because it was necessary to afford proofs to the world of the perfidy, corruption and abomination of the monarchical system. The infinity of evidence that has been produced exposes them in the most glaring and hideous colors; thence it results that monarchy, what-

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