Sacrifices Must Be Made to Achieve Greater Goals
Antoine Pierre Joseph Marie Barnave
Hello again, citizens of France. Several issues about the new era of France are finding their solutions. Yet, I have another issue that I would like to address. We are about to open the door of fate. We have been discussing nationalizing church’s property, making sure all clergies in France swear the obligatory oath and giving our King a suspensive veto to check our legislation. The issue I want to discuss is slavery in Saint Domingue. You would expect me to liberate slaves. Unfortunately, I cannot do it right now. I truly pity five hundred slaves in Saint Domingue who are suffering and desperately waiting for liberty. I do acknowledge that slavery in Saint Domingue directly violates one of the rights made in the Declaration of the Rights of the Man and of the Citizen, but we need to postpone this process of abolishing slavery to stabilize our new government. I demand we continue to retain slavery in Saint Domingue to secure funding for our new government and prevent further conflict with Saint Domingue.
I would like to start with how preserving slavery in Saint Domingue prevents chaos in France. Edmund Burke, a member of English Parliament, criticizes the Jacobin’s idealistic revolution: “to despise all their predecessors, and all their contemporaries, and even to despise themselves until the moment in which they become truly despicable. By following those false lights, France has brought undisguised calamities at a higher price than any nation has purchased the most unequivocal blessings! ” (Burke 148). The Jacobins want every single bit of our past to be burned down to start the new era. History exists to remind us not to repeat the tragic past. If we forget our past, we are doomed to repeat it again. Slavery is one of the remnants from our history. The existence of our new government is to establish a place where people can be free and equal. To make our ideals come true, we need funds from Saint Domingue. Slavery in Saint Domingue must endure until we stabilize France.
My final reason for not directly abolishing slavery in Saint Domingue is not to repeat what happened to Britain around a decade ago. After the loss of the Seven-Years War, Britain imposed heavy taxation on Americans. In response, America enacted non-importation and non-exportation to protest the taxation without representation. Daniel Dulany, a delegate of Maryland General Assembly, stressed taxation without consent is illegitimate: “A right to impose an internal tax on the colonies, without their consent for the single purpose of revenue, is denied, a right to regulate their trade without consent is admitted” (Dulany 133). A government that takes away the properties of the people without their consent is illegal because their properties are sacred and inalienable. I would like to ask you: Do we have a representative from Saint Domingue? Americans were angry due to the taxation without representation.
Therefore, if we take away resident’s slaves in Saint Domingue, there is a huge possibility that Saint Domingue will undergo the exact same procedure. Given the current state of France, we cannot handle more than one conflict. We are not Britain. Britain could suppress the protest for a long time because they had a stable government. On the other hand, we are not. We will quickly lose the control of Saint Domingue and might let Spain to take over our valuable colony. Without funds from sugar of Saint Domingue, our government will fall. We do not want to revert to tyranny.
Another bill that I would like to propose is to let the assembly in Saint Domingue handle slavery. The great philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau stresses the limit of government ruling in the Social Contract: “If, in the different States, the number of supreme magistrates should be in inverse ratio to the number of citizens, it follows that, generally, democratic government suits small States, aristocratic government those of middle size, and monarchy great ones” (Rousseau Book 3). Monarchy is suited for a large state, and democracy is great for a small state. Saint Domingue is small compared to the mainland France. Therefore, it is better to let the democratic assembly in Saint Domingue take care of their own issues.
In addition, a very few of us have a sufficient amount of information about Saint Domingue to rule. The distance between the colony and France is about three months by a ship. I view the best ruling of slavery in Saint Domingue is to leave the issue to its own assembly.
Local governments exist to rule fairly with sufficient understanding of the will of their people to prevent conflicts and repetition of tragedy. When our government is stabilized, I recommend enacting gradual liberation of slaves. This not only secures our funding for a new government and makes France more democratic than ever. We must not repeat the American Revolution in Saint Domingue because it is a cornerstone of our economy. Britain was so impatient that it lost its biggest profit source. We must not do this because our beloved France is far superior than Britain.
Once France is strong enough, I propose the gradual liberation of slavery. In 1780, Pennsylvania, one of the states in America, proposed to liberate children of slaves: “That all persons, as well Negroes and Mulattoes as others, who shall be born within this state from and after the passing of this act, shall not be deemed and considered as servants for life, or slaves; and that all servitude for life, or slavery of children, in consequence of the slavery of their mothers, in the case of all children born within this state, from and after the passing of this act as aforesaid, shall be, and hereby is utterly taken away, extinguished and for ever abolished” (Paine). Pennsylvania outlaws any newborn children of slaves following their parent’s path after the passage of the law. A plant without soil to grow will fade away. Slavery is like a flower. If children of slaves are liberated, calamities of slavery will eventually die. Pennsylvania did this to avoid the economic crisis. To secure funds for our democratic government and practice liberty and equality simultaneously, this is the optimal way. Instantly abolishing slavery can lead us to the greater loss, which creates a conflict, even a rebellion, between Saint Domingue and us.
Changes in politics must be executed when the state is sound. It takes time to make our own ideals a reality. We must not start our own government from a clean slate. Members of the Feuillants faction seek a peaceful way to settle issues, and we would appreciate every bit of support in order to create a better France.
This is a Map of Saint Domingue. As you notice, Saint Domingue is tiny compared to France. Also, Spain is right next to it.
France’s Influence on Saint Domingue
Marquis de Lafayette
Just as there was confusion on the streets of France, Saint-Domingue paralleled in the riots across the oceans. Where there was a requirement for change and a push away from the traditional system, the development and types of changes needed differed from France. In Saint-Domingue there was a system of three legal classes: whites, mulattoes, and slaves. The land was mostly overrun with rotourier, or commoners, and the Church as a result of the push for economic growth over a proper socio-economic system, lacked a significant amount of power. There was an underlying fear of revolt by the large slave population. Underlying this were tensions between different groups, such as the rich whites of the colony and the absentee planters of France.
It was natural that a document so riveting in ideas, and so open to interpretation would stir up the colony, to take each idea and apply their own perspective on what could be the best possible future for themselves. Taking into consideration their built-up differences living for many years away from France, one can see how the interpretation did not match up with the intended applications. The people of Saint-Domingue could have also been trying to use the argument to persuade France to support them in their goals for independence. There was also some illegal trades with New England, leading to further persuasion of the intellectual and elite support for change. The emancipation movement in the 1780s in the North of the colonies was also believed to be a cause of the slaves seeking a freedom. Debates over the wording of The Declaration of the Rights began to take consideration for Mulattoes, as to which set of people be allotted the freedom. Some adjustments definitely pushed to limit the powers, such as with voting only being allowed to “qualified mulattoes of free parents”.
Within France, some of the reactions of the colonies began to impact the factions and they included a topic of discussion regarding what was to be done for Saint-Domingue. The Jacobins were a faction that were willing to allow the freedom of Saint-Domingue, first by eliminating the slave-trade. A smaller group of elites within the Society of Thirty, calling themselves the French Society of the Friends of Blacks, reiterated the goals of the Jacobins, with the inclusion that slavery be banned from the colony all together. It was a fair argument, yet controversy developed on the basis of potential consequences that could stem from the freedom.
The potential gains of promising and allowing freedom of the slaves on Saint-Domingue will undeniably help the state of France in the long run, even working to improve France’s image to other nations. For one, France would serve as sticking to the words of The Declaration, legitimately stretching freedoms of speech across oceans. Individuals such as Toussaint L’Ouverture would serve as voluntary military support and would provide the money and resources for future wars that the nation would have to fight. Leaders of the National Guard, who seek a prominent position in politics, can be considered for a position in Saint-Domingue, under the approval of the citizens. France’s colony would have an impact on the states, and the questioning of abolition of slavery would be considered. Also, with the new-found freedom, individuals within Saint-Domingue may be more willing to provide for the economy of France, and fair trade deals could be established to fairly provide and protect each nation. Whereas the small differences amongst the elites and social hierarchy may serve to be a temporary problem, long term solutions outweigh the minute issues of power. Following the establishment of ending slavery, a document should ensure this process not be changed by potential rioters of the nation. A system of power should be suggested, so to stabilize Saint-Domingue and prevent future divergences.
Overall, there is a promising outlook if the consideration of the end to the slave trade and the abolishment of slavery be considered for Saint-Domingue. While these ideas sound to extreme to the common ear, if time is taken to consider what is being asked of France with a new declaration asking for freedoms to the people and more of a voice to the citizens, nothing unambiguously different is being asked of in Saint-Domingue. In fact, the region stands more on a tip, soon to come rocking if the incorrect next steps are to be taken.
Slaves Seeking Freedom at Saint Domingue
War Will Set France up for Annihilation
War is not inevitable; if France goes to war, the entire government will be ruined. It causes innocent Frenchmen to lose their lives‒which are unnecessary deaths‒our resources will be thrown into the flames of extinction, the government’s budget will be strained even more than now, and it ultimately poisons our land and our people by creating an atmosphere of hatred and resentment within. It will only continue to weaken our already struggling government and suffice it to say, our country does not to be dragged further down with the consequences of war.
If France engages in either national conflict or international conflict, the awful ramifications include completely eradicating the currently fragile state of France or involving ourselves in an unfavorable war with foreign powers where they possess a higher chance of achieving a victorious ending compared to us.
Besides, the situation regarding economic instability will not be favorable because the impotent system of taxation and tax collection confirms our inability to support the armed forces and to ensure that they maintain a strong and powerful image as well as prepare them to remain in a state of readiness. Without a powerful military, France will be in a vulnerable condition.
Having a revolution does not necessarily indicate that there will be war; it should not be an incitement for war even though it deals with controversial topics such as deciding whether or not citizens should be allowed freedom of speech or the significance of the nationalization of Church lands. The demonstration of changes and acquiring new ideas and theories should neither be a reason nor an excuse to derange public order. Thus, we as a country cannot afford to go into war in our current state and a way to ensure that we follow through with this proposal is to work towards a form of government where it combines the important ideas from the faction of the nobilities and clergies with that from the Jacobins faction as well as several objectives from my faction, the Feuillants, to develop a functioning, stable, and effective government.
According to Aristotle, moderation is the better pathway to take. His study of ethics focuses on the conditions for attaining a life of happiness and well-being primarily through achieving a virtuous character. The two typical moral virtues, courage and temperance, that Aristotle encourages people to gain are described as means. He emphasizes that moving towards these means, or in other words moderation, produces virtuous people and therefore, generating contentment and prosperity. With acknowledgment of that, it should be apparent that the approach that leads to war is arguably the worst method of altering the government of France because war falls into the category of extremes‒something we want to avoid if we are trying to achieve moderation.
The state of France will pursue a shift from the feudal monarchical society to a constitutional monarchy. With that, we hope to draft a constitution that objectively limits the power of the monarch and efficiently reflects our most desirable rights that in turn will benefit the entirety of the citizens of France. Furthermore, this constitution will include the concept of separation of powers where power will be shared between the monarch and the elected Parliament, which in this case, the National Assembly will take care of the legislative powers while the king can veto legislation.
Charles-Louis de Secondat, typically known as Montesquieu, claims “Democratic and aristocratic states are not in their own nature free. Political liberty is to be found only in moderate government,” saying that the government should not function on the extremes from either the conservative ideals or the democratic ideals but that the creation of a government based on the combination of the two, incorporating balance and toleration into the government. That will create an ideal form of government to accommodate the needs of denizens of this state. Furthermore, he mentions that if power is dispensed among any group, it is not uncommon to encounter the exploitation of power; therefore, because of the nature of this, Montesquieu fully embraces this notion of the separation of powers, specifically when he says, “power should be a check to power.” Without temperance, France is more likely to succumb to the incentives for war‒as I have mentioned earlier, this will only continue to damage the country.
As an influential member of the Feuillant faction, I, Jean-Sylvain Bailly, can assure that the members of the National Assembly will seek to mold the government of France into a constitutional monarchy that will hopefully obliterate all motives to drive France to war and consequently, to a state of ruins. In the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, citizens are given the rights of “free communication of ideas and opinions” which indicates that they may “speak, write, and print with freedom” so long as they abide by the laws. This allows the citizens to voice their opinions and address their concerns in a more passive manner‒no violence necessary. Surely, no war is necessary, and no war is justifiable.
The Storming of the Bastille Enforces the Idea that War Will Indeed Create Absolute Chaos in France
The Storming of The Bastille Enforces The Idea That War Will Indeed Create Absolute Chaos in France
The Royal Academies Must Stand
The value of the Royal Academies cannot be understated; it is essential to the development of the French government. A couple of the prominent institutions belonging to this group are the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture (Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture) and the Académie Royale des Sciences (Royal Academy of Sciences). These institutions play a significant role in the weight of politics. As France seek to make changes to the government to create a constitutional monarchy, the way the academies operate, and the essence of these institutions will certainly undergo alterations that will ensure its smooth proceedings.
To recognize the cruciality of these institutions, we must first understand the way in which they were created, what purposes were they created for, and the influence that they have on the current state of France. The Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture was founded in 1648 by King Louis XIV and the art taught at this premier institution was modeled on the Italian arts. The King created this academy was to advance the skills of French artists in the courts and to make sure that they are well-trained in the arts of painting and sculpture.
The Royal Academy of Sciences was again founded by King Louis XIV on the encouragement of Jean-Baptiste Colbert. This institution was mainly established to protect the scientific research of France and consequently, promote and reform the sciences. Initially, it was called the French Academy of Sciences; years later, it was renamed the Royal Academy of Sciences in 1699 by the King and was installed in the Louvre in Paris.
Despite the chaotic situation that the state of France is in, we must continue to open these royal academies where the National Assembly will administer teaching of current and future French artists and scientists and encourage the production of art and the evolution of sciences. Jean-Jacques Rousseau claims in the First Discourse: On the Moral Effects of the Arts and Sciences, “It is not science…that I am attacking, it is virtue that I am defending.” Despite saying that he does not intend to dismiss the sciences, but rather protect moral excellence, he later denounced it, saying, “Our minds have been corrupted in proportion as the arts and sciences have improved.” To counter that argument, the well-regarded intellectual Edmund Burke states in his Letter to a Member of the National Assembly “for where there is no sound reason, there can be no real virtue,” where logical reasoning develops through the advancement in education. Clearly, virtue is a result of the progress of the art and sciences. In addition, it is a crucial component in the improvement of France, specifically regarding the French politics and it will cause France to become a more united nation as the citizens create, appreciate, and celebrate each other’s artwork and discoveries.
Art is an important political tool. An example of this is reflected in the drawing Tennis Court Oath by Jacques Louis David. The drawing shows a large group of enthusiastic people with their hands raised in support of the Tennis Court Oath, which reinforces the good aspects of the revolution. Art rallies up public sentiments in favor of French nationalism through its ability to reach many people; in other words, art is used as political propaganda to influence the citizens of France that the revolution is a positive modification of the French government. The importance of the various forms of art effectively impacts our country both internally among the citizens and externally with foreign countries because all will deem this revolution as a progressive effort for the sake of France.
Aside from art, the advancement of science is also significant in aiding France. The forward movement of science leads to a more knowledgeable country and it concentrates on the processes of acquiring national necessities. For example, French scientists figured out how to extract saltpeter‒potassium nitrate‒to make gunpowder. Likewise, their research on energy allowed them to understand steel making, munitions, copper, and sodium carbonate, using them to manufacture goods. Recently, the Monsieur Antoine de Lavoisier led the National Assembly to establish a system of weights and measurements known as the ‘metric system.’ All these improvements in science only paved way for a better country. Thus, it would be unwise to take this away and halt the enrichment of knowledge and profitable production of resources.
These academies are indeed creations during the ancien régime but they do not need to be demolished because it would be a tragedy to simply discard such imperative institutions that provide so much for the state of France. The Jacobins argue that the continuation of these academies gives a large sum of power to the conservative factions because of the statuses of the people who oversee running them. They argue that those people mainly consist of nobilities and royalties, meaning they have the capability to abuse the system and manage it in ways that favor them.
However, these are legitimate institutions whose purpose is to primarily upgrade the extent of knowledge on the arts and sciences in France, making France a more cultured and intelligent country. If we can keep these institutions running with proper guidelines and oversight to ensure that it functions in an unbiased and fair way, the unmistakable growth of the arts and sciences of France will be extremely apparent and momentous that not doing so results in a loss for the enhancement of the French government.
The power of who maintains these institutions is given to the monarch to some extent since the King, or broadly speaking, the royal family, are indeed the founders. They are practically tied to these institutions and its logistics. According to Edmund Burke, the National Assembly tries their best to rid the government of unnecessary aristocratic prejudices. He says, “In this manner these great legislators complete their plan of levelling and establish their rights of men on a sure foundation.” The sure foundation mentioned is where the improvements of the arts and sciences in society combines with well-maintained institutions by a single power will indeed create great developing stages for France‒we can progressively move forward without completely changing the system with have in the past. In the end, the National Assembly will be responsible for the funding, the king will have a role in the overseeing its functioning, and the citizens will be enlightened by and will prosper from the achievements of their members.
Demonstration of the Growth of Science Bringing Together Intellectuals to Improve France
Members of the National Assembly Swearing the Tennis Court Oath in Unity