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together. They were convoked for April 27, 1789. Later the number was fixed at 1,200; citizens who were taxpayers were declared electors. The elections caused a ferment throughout the provinces, the like of which had never before been known in any country. The King desired to effect reforms, but was without a definite policy. He had called together representatives of the nation to consider and provide for its needs with no further preparation than a partial understanding of the gross abuses of the decaying monarchy. Naturally and logically the first inquiry was directed toward ascertaining what was wrong. The one overshadowing fact disclosed to even dull minds was the unmerited power and privileges of the nobles and high clergy and the lavish extravagance of the court. Bad harvests aggravated the distress of the poor, but never before had so much been done by the king and the rich to relieve them. Charity did not satisfy, when the poor laborer was taught by the agitators that his rights were equal to those of the idle court favorites.

Though it is not often mentioned, the American colonists derived their ideas of personal liberty and individual dignity to some extent from the Indians, who absolutely denied the authority of rulers. The dissemination of American ideas, thus taken from the savages, among a people of most lively sensibilities, was greatly facilitated by the students and admirers of Greek and Roman liberty. The philosophers had prepared the way for the repudiation of monarchial corruption. The nation was ready to condemn the bad government and the false theory of class superiority and robbery with which it was oppressed, but it was not prepared to construct a new system. When the States-General convened, separa rooms were provided for the noblesse and the clergy, but the Third Estate, equal in numbers to both, had only the throne room, intended for the joint meetings of the three orders, in which to assemble. The verification of credentials of members was left to the assembly itself, as well as the question whether the sittings should be in one or separate chambers. The Third Estate, representing the common people, was in possession of the assembly room, and after inviting the other


orders to attend proceeded to determine who were titled to seats, admitting such of the inferior clergy and nobility as chose to come in. They chose the name of National Assembly, by which this most memorable gathering is known in history. When the session was opened by the King at Versailles on May 5, there were about 1;100 deputies present, of whom 595 belonged to the Third Estate; and of these three-fifths were lawyers.

The States-General had been summoned by the King to aid him with money and to still the complaints against abuses, but when convened it proceeded to act, not as an aid to a sovereign king, but as the representative of a sovereign people. On June 20, after having undertaken to annual all the decrees of the Assembly, the King caused the doors of their hall to be closed and decreed a royal session on the 22nd. The Assembly met nevertheless in a tennis court and passed a decree, “That the National Assembly considering itself called to determine the constitution of the kingdom, to effect the regeneration of public order, and to uphold the true principles of the monarchy, declaring that nothing shall prevent its continuing its deliberations, and that wherever its members. are united, there is the National Assembly; Decrees that all the members of this Assembly shall this instant take a solemn oath never to separate, until the constitution of the kingdom be established and confirmed upon solid foundation." All the deputies but one took the oath. On the 22nd, the royal session not taking place, they assembled in the church of St. Louis, where the majority of the representatives of the clergy joined them, one hundred forty-eight in number. On the 23rd the King opened the session with a speech and caused a declaration to be read declaring null all acts of the Assembly and limiting their deliberations to certain subjects, mainly relating to taxation; adding, “None of your projects, none of your ordinances, can have the authority of law without my special approbation. I command you, gentlemen, to adjourn immediately, and to appear to-morrow morning, each in the chamber appropriated to his order, to resume there the usual sessions.” The king left, followed by the nobility and part of the clergy, but the third estate remained. The grand master of ceremonies said to Baillie, president of the Assembly, “Monsieur you have heard the King's orders”? Baillie replied “I cannot dissolve the Assembly until it has deliberated upon the matter. I believe that the assembled nation can receive no command." This was revolution. It denied the sovereignty of the King. On the 24th, forty-seven noble deputies with the Duke of Orleans at their head took seats in the Assembly, and on the 27th the King, overawed by the popular tumult at Paris and the desertion of the French guard, who sided with the populace, to secure his own safety requested the nobles to repair to the common hall, which they did.

Who can adequately describe the awakening of a great nation after many centuries of tyranny, maintained in accordance with rules called laws, which their teachers both spiritual and temporal have taught the people to obey as of divine origin and sanction, to a realization of the monstrous falsity of the whole system. The idols were broken and found to be but base impostures. The ferment spread throughout the nation as the great leaders of the Assembly boldly declared the self-evident truths of liberty and justice. The fruits of the teachings of Montesquieu, Fenelon, Rousseau and Voltaire ripened all at once in the hot house of the Assembly. In Paris the most exalted aspirations of pure patriots for an age of justice coöperated with the hatred and savagery of the dregs of society, who called for vengeance on those they deemed the cause of their degradation. The Assembly led the march of ideas grandly at Versailles, but the ferment went on in the multitude at Paris. The courtiers looked to the army to preserve the King's authority and protect them. The revolutionary forces in Paris organized. There were the electors, the Orleans party and the Breton, afterwards called the Jacobin Club. On July 11 the King dismissed Necker, the only minister in whom the people had confidence. On the fourteenth of July the Parisians broke into the Dome des Invalides, seized 2,800 guns and stormed the hated Bastile, the prison fortress, which stood as a symbol of tyranny, and at once proceeded to demolish it. There were lives lost in the combat and faithless executions of prisoners taken, whose blood the mob demanded. The national guard was organized by authority of the Assembly and the districts of Paris with La Fayette at its head. Uprisings were not confined to Paris but spread throughout the provinces and were everywhere directed against those who profited by the abuses of the old régime.

The Assembly proceeded with its deliberations, which reached a climax on August 4, expressing at one session the condemnation of a vast system of oppression. From 1614 till 1789 the nation had not been consulted in regard to public affairs, despotism and privilege had flourished at the expense of the people. No wonder that the King and the representatives of the people were so wide apart in their purposes. The King looked only from the standpoint of long recognized power. The assembly was profoundly conscious of the gross and manifold abuses of that power. The King wished increased revenues and tranquil submission to authority. The people demanded relief from excessive burdens and some measure of justice. The many lawyers of the Assembly understood the laws and appreciated the inequity of them. Many of the nobility and clergy recognized the moral indefensibility of their great privileges. On the evening of this memorable session the Viscount de Noailles, speaking to the demand of the government that a decree be passed to put an end to the disturbances in the provinces by inviting the people to obey the ancient laws till modified, declared that the only means of restoring peace was to decree immediately a proportional levy of taxes on all citizens ratably, the adjustment of farm rents on the basis of income and the abolition of statute labor, mortmain and all personal servitude. This blow at feudal privilege was seconded by the Duke d' Aiguillon, the richest nobleman of France. No voice was raised in defense of feudal injustice. Then it was demanded that the recipients of royal favors, the court seigniors, should bear their part. The Dukes of Guiche and Mortemart replied that they were ready to renounce the king's benefits and share the common burdens. Then privilege after privilege was attacked in rapid succession. Employments were opened to all citizens alike, and penalties for crime were made the same to all classes. Feudal courts, through which the nobles were judges over their vassals, were abolished. Hunting rights, enjoyed only by the nobility, were opened to all. Then came the turn of the clergy; the cures were shorn of their perquisites, and the bishops of their titles. Having disposed of the privileges of the nobles and clergy, those of the provinces and cities were brushed away, and the deputies for Brittany, Provence and Languedoc, and for Paris, Marseilles, Bordeaux and Lyons renounced all their great advantages with respect to imposts. Then came the suppression of the privileges of freemen and tradesmen in the monopoly of work. Thus in a single night sitting from 8 P. M. to 2 A. M. fell the whole system of privileges, and in its place stood the great French nation composed of citizens, each with equal rights before the law. Never in all time was an equal number of abuses exposed and laid low by any representative of a nation at a single session. Radical, thorough and far-reaching as these measures were, they were all clearly and unqualifiedly right, and this accounts for the celerity with which each abuse fell in its turn.

On the twenty-sixth of the same month the great work of the fourth was supplemented by the adoption of the following Declaration of the Rights of the Man and of the Citizen. "1. Men are born and remain free and equal in their rights. 2. These rights are : liberty, property, safety and resistance to oppression. 3. The principle of all sovereignty resides in the nation. No body, no individual can exercise authority not emanating directly from it. 4. Liberty consists in the power to do all that which does not injure others. 5. Law has the right to forbid only actions detrimental to society. 6. Law is the expression of the general will. All citizens have the right to concur personally or through their representatives in its enactment. It should be the same for all, whether it protect or whether it punish. All citizens being equal in its eyes, are equally admissible to all dignities, public places and employments, according to their capacity, their virtue and their talents. 7. No man can be accused, arrested

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