Front Page Titles (by Subject) XX.: APPEAL TO THE CONVENTION. - The Writings of Thomas Paine, Vol. III (1791-1804)
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XX.: APPEAL TO THE CONVENTION. - Thomas Paine, The Writings of Thomas Paine, Vol. III (1791-1804) 
The Writings of Thomas Paine, Collected and Edited by Moncure Daniel Conway (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1894). Vol. 3.
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APPEAL TO THE CONVENTION.1
CitizensRepresentatives: If I should not express myself with the energy I used formerly to do, you will attribute it to the very dangerous illness I have suffered in the prison of the Luxembourg. For several days I was insensible of my own existence; and though I am much recovered, it is with exceeding great difficulty that I find power to write you this letter.
But before I proceed further, I request the Convention to observe: that this is the first line that has come from me, either to the Convention or to any of the Committees, since my imprisonment,—which is approaching to eight months.—Ah, my friends, eight months’ loss of liberty seems almost a life-time to a man who has been, as I have been, the unceasing defender of Liberty for twenty years.
I have now to inform the Convention of the reason of my not having written before. It is a year ago that I had strong reason to believe that Robespierre was my inveterate enemy, as he was the enemy of every man of virtue and humanity. The address that was sent to the Convention some time about last August from Arras, the native town of Robespierre, I have always been informed was the work of that hypocrite and the partizans he had in the place. The intention of that address was to prepare the way for destroying me, by making the people declare (though without assigning any reason) that I had lost their confidence; the Address, however, failed of success, as it was immediately opposed by a counter-address from St. Omer, which declared the direct contrary. But the strange power that Robespierre, by the most consummate hypocrisy and the most hardened cruelties, had obtained, rendered any attempt on my part to obtain justice not only useless but dangerous; for it is the nature of Tyranny always to strike a deeper blow when any attempt has been made to repel a former one. This being my situation, I submitted with patience to the hardness of my fate and waited the event of brighter days. I hope they are now arrived to the nation and to me.
Citizens, when I left the United States in the year 1787 I promised to all my friends that I would return to them the next year; but the hope of seeing a revolution happily established in France, that might serve as a model to the rest of Europe,1 and the earnest and disinterested desire of rendering every service in my power to promote it, induced me to defer my return to that country, and to the society of my friends, for more than seven years. This long sacrifice of private tranquillity, especially after having gone through the fatigues and dangers of the American Revolution which continued almost eight years, deserved a better fate than the long imprisonment I have silently suffered. But it is not the nation but a faction that has done me this injustice. Parties and Factions, various and numerous as they have been, I have always avoided. My heart was devoted to all France, and the object to which I applied myself was the Constitution. The Plan which I proposed to the Committee, of which I was a member, is now in the hands of Barère, and it will speak for itself.
It is perhaps proper that I inform you of the cause asassigned in the order for my imprisonment. It is that I am ’a Foreigner’; whereas, the Foreigner thus imprisoned was invited into France by a decree of the late National Assembly, and that in the hour of her greatest danger, when invaded by Austrians and Prussians. He was, moreover, a citizen of the United States of America, an ally of France, and not a subject of any country in Europe, and consequently not within the intentions of any decree concerning Foreigners. But any excuse can be made to serve the purpose of malignity when in power.
I will not intrude on your time by offering any apology for the broken and imperfect manner in which I have expressed myself. I request you to accept it with the sincerity with which it comes from my heart; and I conclude with wishing Fraternity and prosperity to France, and union and happiness to her representatives.
Citizens, I have now stated to you my situation, and I can have no doubt but your justice will restore me to the Liberty of which I have been deprived.
Thermidor 19, 2nd Year of the French Republic, one and indivisible.
Written in Luxembourg prison, August 7, 1794. Robespierre having fallen July 29th, those who had been imprisoned under his authority were nearly all at once released, but Paine remained. There were still three conspirators against him on the Committee of Public Safety, and to that Committee this appeal was unfortunately confided; consequently it never reached the Convention. The circumstances are related at length infra, in the introduction to the Memorial to Monroe (XXI.). It will also be seen that Paine was mistaken in his belief that his imprisonment was due to the enmity of Robespierre, and this he vaguely suspected when his imprisonment was prolonged three months after Robespierre’s death.—Editor.
Revolutions have now acquired such sanguinary associations that it is important to bear in mind that by “revolution” Paine always means simply a change or reformation of government, which might be and ought to be bloodless. See “Rights of Man,” Part II., vol. ii. of this work, pp. 513, 523.—Editor.