Mike Reed


Mikee wrote this paper as part of a “Reacting to the Past” class game. The setting was the French Revolution, and Mike was a member of the Jacobin faction. The Jacobins needed to convince the other factions in the room to toss out the constitution of 1791 and start fresh. The paper is both persuasive and analytical, with a consistent use of the primary sources. Mike had to deliver this paper in speech form in front of the class as well as submit this more formally written version. This paper represents the best of the papers in the game, covering both his own argument and anticipating the arguments of the other factions. It demonstrates Mike’s ability to analyze and use primary sources, formulate an argument based on those sources, and write with a critical eye to his argument’s reception by opposing factions.

– Amy Curry

 The Jacobins
Our work is not yet finished!

Fellow countrymen we stand ready to take our great country back from the talons of an unworthy King. The Catholic Church must continue to be restrained and the nobility must pay their fair share of taxes to help support the country.  We also have critical matters of state to continue discussing, such as the abolition of the slave trade and proper running of the military. I would like to let you, my fellow citizens, know a little more about me as there are various things that many of you are probably unaware. I am from the south of France I grew up in Montaubaun, near Toulouse. I am the son of a fuller and my father, like many of my relatives, has worked his way up from humble beginnings to provide a comfortable life for me. We have earned our money not through trickery or at the expense of others, but through fair and honest business. I was originally schooled by the Jesuits at Marseille and learned much from them, but my father and I also learned of the cruelty and repressive nature of the Catholic order. Man should be free to worship his god in his own way. For this reason, my father and I decided I should move on to Bordeaux and study Navigation.

In my previous correspondence with you, I touched on several subjects. I would like to revisit the Catholic church. We, the National Assembly, have passed and ratified the Obligatory Oath.  We have men around this country who are currently refusing to take the oath and we must act immediately. “If the State is a moral person whose life is in the union of its members, and if the most important of its cares is the care for its own preservation, it must have a universal and compelling force, in order to move and dispose each part as may be most advantageous to the whole. As nature gives each man absolute power over all his members, the social compact gives the body politic absolute power over all its members also; and it is this power which, under the direction of the general will, bears, as I have said, the name of Sovereignty. ”(Rousseau Book 2,4) We can no longer tolerate the interference of Rome in the day to day affairs of France.

The Pope has proclaimed “that each and every cardinal, archbishop, bishop, abbot, vicar, canon, parish priest, curate and member of the clergy, whether secular or regular, who has purely and simply taken the Civil Oath as ordered by the National Assembly is suspended from the exercise of his office and will act irregularly if he exercises his office, unless he abjures his oath within forty days from this date. For the oath is the poisoned source and origin of all errors And the chief cause of the sorrow of the French Catholic church. (Pious 20) Many of you may be unaware that many years ago I studied and was ordained as a Calvinist minister while in Switzerland. Religious toleration and acceptance of various forms of worship are a critical component of the great republic we are attempting to create. The Pope and his council wish to force out all other forms of religion. The position we have taken is not one that speaks of ejecting the Catholic faithful from France. We encourage and support our catholic brothers, for we worship the same God just differently.

The Pope also goes on to state “Listen carefully to the message of your lawful pastors who are still living, and who will be put in charge of you later, according to the canons. Finally, in one word, stay close to Us. For no one can be in the Church of Christ without being in unity with its visible head and founded on the See of Peter (Pious 32). This interpretation is a nothing more than his attempt to centralize his own power and wealth.  He boldly tells our people that the church one day will regain control and France will again heel at the foot of the Pope. Is the Pope planning an invasion of France, because the people of France have spoken and we wish to be governed by the people not some monarch or papal figurehead with their own questionable agenda? Furthermore the Pope goes on to contradict the very words of Christ who proclaims  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”(John 3:16) Eternal salvation flows through the body of Christ, not the church in Rome.

Another topic that we must continue to work on is the issue of slavery in the Caribbean. Rousseau states that“…in respect of riches, no citizen shall ever be wealthy enough to buy another, and none poor enough to be forced to sell himself”(Rousseau Book 2,26 ). The events of February 26, 1791, have stained our country’s moral fiber. The brutal and vicious execution of Vicente Oge,  a freed and well educated black man, at the hands of the General Blanchelande is a crime that must be brought before the courts! How can we as citizens and believers in the works of Rousseau allow such blatant disregard for the inviolable rights of men? “Men are born free and remain free and equal in rights, social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good”(de Lafayette, Jefferson, Mirabeau, 1). How can we stray from the laws we have already passed so early in this process? There are many among us who state the freeing of the slaves will be a logistical and administrative nightmare, as it may well be. Europe and the rest of the world will surely mock our feeble attempt to create a country if we hypocritically ignore section one of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.

At this critical juncture, our country sits in chaos. We have foreign invaders that have crossed into our lands and we must start to exert control of the military at once!  The Marquis de Lafayette is a man with a very questionable set of loyalties. After his repeated use of the  National Guard to suppress the citizens of Paris, we must remove this man from power or risk losing the faith of the very people we are trying show a better way of life. Members of the National Assembly, as we embark on this mission of creating a more economically free and diverse nation, one where all men have a chance to earn a living raise a family and to enjoy the fruits of their labor, it would be foolish to allow someone from the aristocracy with questionable loyalty to oversee our National Guard. I would like to nominate my good friend Maximilian Robespierre for the new commander of the national guard.  Robespierre brings with him a flawless resume of knowledge and experience. This man has been an outspoken leader and advocate for the poor and he also supports the abolition of slavery. His well-known nickname of “The Incorruptible” tells all we need to know. This man will bridge the divide Lafayette has created. I think it would be prudent at this time to name the Marquis de Lafayette Ambassador to the newly formed United States of America. In this capacity he might very well be in a position to gather assistance, given all that France and he did for this new country.

And lastly, women of France, I beseech you to give up these foolish ambitions you have of joining the army or taking part in the complicated game that is politics. Our country has endured years of war and unfortunately may endure more years in the very near future. We need you at home raising the next generation of French citizens. We need you to be there and run the households so that our men may continue the critical role of reshaping and rearming our great Republic! For clarity on this topic I would have you consider this passage from the Bible: “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church” (I Corinthians 14:33-35).

Citizens of France I ask again that you all spread the word and that the Jacobin message is the only clear path to formation of a truly great republic. We have on both sides of us people that wish to pull us only part way to a new form of governance. Their half measures are nothing than vain attempts to cling to the power and wealth that has been acquired through ill-gotten gains or devious ways. We must completely strip away our former method of governance and start anew.


Works Cited

De Lafayette, Marquis, Thomas Jefferson, and Honore Mirabeau. “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.” N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2016.

Jean-Jacques Rouseau. “Social Contract Book 3.” SpringerReference (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 2 Mar. 2016.

“John 3:16.” King James Bible. London: Public Domain, 1611. N. pag. Print.

Rosseau, Jean Jacque. “Social Contract Book 2.” SpringerReference (n.d.): n. pag. Early Modern Texts. Dec. 2010. Web. Feb. 2016.

VI, Pious. “Charitas: On the Civil Oath in France.” 1981. The Papal Encyclopedias. Vol. 1. N.p.: Mcgrath, 1981. N. pag. Print.

“1st Corinthians 14:33-35.” King James Bible. London: Public Domain, 1611. N. pag. Print.

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