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Appears in Collections:History and Politics Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Robespierre and the universal rights of man, 1789-1794
Author(s): Rapport, Michael
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Issue Date: Sep-1996
Date Deposited: 10-Sep-2012
Citation: Rapport M (1996) Robespierre and the universal rights of man, 1789-1794. French History, 10 (3), pp. 303-333.
Abstract: First paragraph: On 15 May 1790, the Constituent Assembly opened a debate on the question as to whether the king or the legislature would have the right to make war or peace in the new Constitution. While the long-term workings of the machinery of state were at stake, there was also the dark prospect of war with Britain owing to a distant dispute between the Spanish navy and British merchantmen. The family ties of the Bourbon dynasty threatened to pull France into the chasm on the side of Spain should either she or Britain have chosen to resolve their differences through violence. It was in this atmosphere electrified with urgency that Maximilien Robespierre proposed that the National Assembly declare that the French nation had no desire to engage in any war and wanted to live in fraternity with all peoples. His intervention was the flashpoint which brought others to their feet, making similar demands. The debate thus led to the famous declaration inserted into the Constitution of 1791, that 'la nation francaise renonce a entreprendre aucune guerre dans la vue de faire des conquetes, et n'emploiera jamais ses forces contre la liberte d'aucun peuple'. On 25 December 1793, the same Robespierre addressed the National Convention on behalf of the Committee of Public Safety. In outlining the principles of revolutionary government, he denounced the intrigues of foreign governments, which had 'vomi sur la France tous les scelerats habiles qu'elles tiennent a leur solde. Leurs agens infestent encore nos armees . . . Ils deliberent dans nos administrations, dans nos assemblies sectionnaires; ils s'introduisent dans nos clubs; ils ont siege jusques dans le sanctuaire de la representation nationale; ils dirigent et dirigeront eternellement la contre-revolution sur le meme plan.'
DOI Link: 10.1093/fh/10.3.303
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