Author Archives: Aaron Parisier

The September Massacres

The September Massacres were a set of paranoid reactions to the looming possibility of an Austrian assault on Paris (Dwyer and McPhee, 66-67). During this five-day period the confused and angry masses of Paris would execute close to 1,500 prisoners at the Abbaye, the Carmes, and La Force Prison (Shusterman, 135-138). The Massacre also occurred due to the power vacuum created by the relative inactivity of the Assembly and the newly formed Commune prior to the event itself (Shusterman, 131-137). The Legislative Assembly took a somewhat active role in attempting to quell these violent demonstrations and acts, while the Commune and influential figures like Danton and Robespierre remained idle or called upon other cities to follow the example of the Parisians (Shusterman, 138). The Massacre signified the need for political reconciliation in France’s legislative bodies, as this event only widened the gap between the Girondins and the Jacobins (Shusterman, 140-141). It also served as a precursor to the Reign of Terror under Robespierre, which would create a profound communal sense of uproar that would turn Paris into a city plagued by bloodlust and turmoil.

Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was a revolutionary document that called for the creation of a liberalized set of inalienable rights and liberties. Echoing both the August Decrees and the ideas of the renowned Enlightenment writers, the Declaration condemned the feudalistic structure of the old regime and advocated for the establishment of new religious and property rights, as well as equality before the law. The people were given the title of citizen and relinquished their role as subjects of the king. The Declaration also called for the creation of a police force and declared the freedoms of speech and the press. Following the document’s creation, the marginalized populations of France initiated campaigns to claim these new rights that would provide them with enhanced social, political, and economic mobility and agency. It encouraged the Protestant and Jewish communities to campaign for full citizenship and the ability to openly practice their faith. Abolitionists and women also started movements that called for the end of slavery and gender equality. While the Declaration would engender a significant amount of debate in the National Assembly, its creation was a crucial step towards transforming France into a constitutional monarchy.