French Revolution

About this Collection

Like the American Revolution (1775-1783), the French Revolution (1789-1815), had its roots in the Enlightenment and attempted to put enlightened ideas about individual liberty and constitutional government into practice. That one attempt was successful and that the other one failed, leading instead to the Terror and Napoleon’s empire and militarism, has engaged thinkers ever since.

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Titles & Essays

A – Z List

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France Andorra Monaco

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Not Categorized

L’Ancien Régime et la Révolution (7th ed. 1866)

Alexis de Tocqueville (author)

Tocqueville’s last major work which he left unfinished on the continuities between the old regime and the French Revolution.

Des circonstances actuelles qui peuvent terminer la Révolution et des principes qui doivent fonder la république en France

Germaine de Staël (author)

In this posthumously published work, the French classical liberal Germain Necker (de Staël), provides the most coherent account of her thoughts on constitutional government, property rights, public opinion, and representative…

Liberty Matters: Germaine de Staël, Fanaticism, and the Spirit of Party (March 2019)

Aurelian Craiutu (author)

The year 2017 marked the bicentenary of Germaine de Staël’s death (1766-1817). Although her name almost never appears in textbooks or histories of political thought in the English-speaking world her political thought is undeniably…

Quotes

Politics & Liberty

Augustin Thierry laments that the steady growth of liberty in France had been disrupted by the cataclysm of the French Revolution (1859)

Augustin Thierry

Politics & Liberty

Catharine Macaulay supported the French Revolution because there were sound “public choice” reasons for not vesting supreme power in the hands of one’s social or economic “betters” (1790)

Catharine Macaulay

Revolution

Condorcet on why the French revolution was more violent than the American (1794)

Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet

Politics & Liberty

Condorcet writes about the inevitability of the spread of liberty and prosperity while he was in prison awaiting execution by the Jacobins (1796)

Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet

Liberty

Edmund Burke on liberty as “social” not “individual” liberty (1789)

Edmund Burke

Revolution

Edmund Burke, Legislatures, and the Balance between Good and Evil

Edmund Burke

Revolution

Edmund Burke, Man’s Necessities, and Governmental Responsibilities

Edmund Burke

Politics & Liberty

Georg Jellinek argues that Lafayette was one of the driving forces behind the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789)

Georg Jellinek

Politics & Liberty

Germaine de Staël on the indestructible love of liberty (1818)

Germaine de Staël

Law

James Mackintosh on how constitutions grow and are not made (1799)

Sir James Mackintosh

Justice

James Mackintosh on the relationship between justice and utility (1791)

Sir James Mackintosh

Taxation

Knox on how the people during wartime are cowered into submission and pay their taxes “without a murmur” (1795)

Vicesimus Knox

Liberty

Liberty in the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789)

Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette

Politics & Liberty

Lord Acton on the destruction of the liberal Girondin group and the suicide of Condorcet during the French Revolution (1910)

John Emerich Edward Dalberg, Lord Acton

Revolution

Lord Acton on the storming of “the instrument and the emblem of tyranny” in Paris, the Bastille, on July 14, 1789 (1910)

John Emerich Edward Dalberg, Lord Acton

Presidents, Kings, Tyrants, & Despots

Madame de Staël argues that Napoleon was able to create a tyrannical government by pandering to men’s interests, corrupting public opinion, and waging constant war (1817)

Germaine de Staël

Liberty

Madame de Staël on how liberty is ancient and despotism is modern (1818)

Germaine de Staël

Presidents, Kings, Tyrants, & Despots

Madame de Staël on the tyrant Napoleon (1818)

Germaine de Staël

Religion & Toleration

Noah Webster on the resilience of common religious practices in the face of attempts by the state to radically change them (1794)

Noah Webster

Liberty

Richard Price on giving thanks for the principles of the Revolution of 1688 (1789)

Richard Price

War & Peace

Richard Price on how the “domestic enemies” of liberty have been more powerful and more successful than foreign enemies (1789)

Richard Price

Taxation

Thomas Paine responded to one of Burke’s critiques of the French Revolution by cynically arguing that wars are sometimes started in order to increase taxation (“the harvest of war”) (1791)

Thomas Paine

Colonies, Slavery & Abolition

Tocqueville on Centralised Government in Canada and Decentralised Government in America (1856)

Alexis de Tocqueville

Revolution

Tocqueville on the 1848 Revolution in Paris (1851)

Alexis de Tocqueville

Liberty

Tocqueville on the true love of liberty (1856)

Alexis de Tocqueville

Money & Banking

Tom Paine on the "Decline and Fall of the English System of Finance" (1796)

Thomas Paine

The State

William Godwin on the need to simplify and reduce the power of the state (1793)

William Godwin

Notes About This Collection

See also the following resources: