Front Page Titles (by Subject) Madame de Staël and America - Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution (LF ed.)
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Madame de Staël and America - Germaine de Staël, Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution (LF ed.) 
Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution, newly revised translation of the 1818 English edition, edited, with an introduction and notes by Aurelian Craiutu (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2008).
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Madame de Staël and America
Finally, it is important to point out that Madame de Staël had a deep appreciation for the principles of American democracy and that her writings and ideas exercised a significant influence on prominent nineteenth-century American intellectuals such as George Ticknor and Henry James. Inspired by Staël’s On Germany, they studied German culture and made decisive contributions to the development of American higher education and intellectual life.37 Staël exchanged many letters with important figures such as Gouverneur Morris, Albert Gallatin, Thomas Jefferson, and Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours (who emigrated to America after Napoléon’s coup d’état of 18 Fructidor).
Moreover, Madame de Staël had numerous investments (land, bonds, and stocks) in the United States, valued by some accounts at approximately one and a half million francs. In 1809–10 she even contemplated coming to America with her family in the hope of finding a new home far away from Napoléon’s grasp.38 Although focused predominantly on business issues, her correspondence with her American friends touched on important events in America such as slavery, the expansion to the West, and the Louisiana Purchase. To Jefferson she confessed in 1816: “If you succeeded in doing away with slavery in the South, there would be at least one government in the world as perfect as human reason can conceive it.”39 At the same time, Madame de Staël was worried that by fighting against England the United States vicariously helped Napoléon and his despotic regime.
It was this concern that prompted her to work toward bringing the two countries together. While in London in 1814, she was instrumental in setting up an appointment between the American secretary of the treasury, Albert Gallatin, and Russia’s tsar, Alexander I. The meeting had a powerful symbolic connotation because Russia’s involvement gave a strong warning to England against continuing its war with America. In September 1814, she wrote to Gallatin that the United States rather than England was the true defender of liberty: “It is you, America, that interest me now above all, aside from my pecuniary affairs. I find you to be at the present moment oppressed by the party of liberty and I see in you the cause that attached me to England a year ago.”40 Back in Paris, she received John Quincy Adams and continued her correspondence with Jefferson. “Our family,” she wrote to him in 1816, “is still a little intellectual island where Franklin, Washington, and Jefferson are revered as in their own country.”41 Shortly before her death, she told George Bancroft in Paris: “You are the vanguard of the human race, you are the future of the world.”42
These testimonies demonstrate that more than a decade before Tocqueville, Madame de Staël sincerely admired the Americans and unambiguously praised their dedication to political liberty, foreseeing the rise of the young nation to the status of superpower. “There is a people who will one day be very great,” she wrote in Considerations. “These are the Americans. . . . What is there more honorable for mankind than this new world, which has established itself without the prejudices of the old; this new world where religion is in all its fervor without needing the support of the state to maintain it; where the law commands by the respect which it inspires, without being enforced by any military power?”43 Her prophetic words continue to inspire us today, as new constellations of ideas and political factors challenge us to rethink the role of American democracy in the twenty-first century.
Note on the Present Edition
Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution was originally published in French in 1818. The two editions printed that year were followed by four others, in 1820, 1843, 1862, and 1881. The book was also reedited in Madame de Staël’s Oeuvres complètes in 1820, 1836, and 1838. No other French editions of the book appeared between 1881 and 1983, when historian Jacques Godechot published a new edition (Paris: Tallandier Publishing House, 1983) that contains an introduction, a bibliography, and a chronology.
I am deeply indebted to the Liberty Fund staff for their invaluable assistance, support, and encouragement in bringing this difficult and long project to fruition. Special thanks are due to Laura Goetz and Diana Francoeur, whose editorial help has been much appreciated. I should also like to thank Henry Clark, John Isbell, Jeremy Jennings, Vladimir Protopopescu, and Jean-Bertrand Ribat for their suggestions on the introduction, notes, and translation.
Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution
THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
POSTHUMOUS WORK OF
THE BARONESS DE STAËL.
the duke de broglie, and the baron de staël.
Les Révolutions qui arrivent dans les grands
états ne sont point un effet du hazard, ni du
caprice de peuples.
Memoires de Sully.1
TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT.
printed for baldwin, cradock, and joy,
[37. ] On this topic, see Pochmann, German Culture in America, and Hawkins, Madame de Staël and the United States.
[38. ] See Madame de Staël’s statement (from 1810) in Ten Years of Exile, 102: “I was still determined to go to England by way of America,” and Savary’s acknowledgment: “You are aware, Madam, that we allowed you to leave for Coppet only because you expressed the desire to go to America.” (quoted in Herold, Mistress to an Age, 491–92) Also see the letters of May 22 and 28, 1809, written from Coppet by Sismondi, Staël’s close friend, confirming Staël’s intention to cross the ocean to find in the New World the freedom and security missing in France. Excerpts from the two letters can be found in Hawkins, Madame de Staël and the United States, 39.
[39. ] Chinard, “La correspondance de Madame de Staël avec Jefferson,” 636 (quoted by Hawkins, Madame de Staël and the United States, 5).
[40. ] Quoted by Hawkins, Madame de Staël and the United States, 54.
[41. ] Chinard, “La correspondance de Madame de Staël avec Jefferson,” 636 (also quoted by Berger in his introduction to Politics, Literature, and National Character, 27).
[42. ]Life, Letters, and Journals of George Ticknor, vol. I, 132–33. It is worth pointing out that Madame de Staël was familiar with La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt’s Voyage dans les États-Unis d’Amérique fait en 1795, 1796, et 1797.
[43. ] Staël, Considerations, pt. VI, chap. vii, 707.
[1. ] “Revolutions that occur in large countries are neither the result of chance nor the whim of the people.”