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Universalism and the French Revolution(cont).docx

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William Nelson

HISA04 Nov. 21 The Three Symbols of the French Revolution  The Meter  The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man  Napoleon The Meter: the First Symbol of Universalism The base measurement of a meter was 1/10,000,000 of the distance between North Pole and the equator, running through Paris.  They wanted a basis of measurement that would be based from nature The meter was the basis of the metric system. The system was created as a means of measurement that would be the same in all places at all times.  They wanted something that could be used to measure things all over the world and, theoretically, the universe.  They wanted consistency This system was not adopted by many other countries because, at that time, France was at war with other countries. The Terror “In a time of innovation, everything that is not new is pernicious.” -Saint-Just (French revolutionary and a leader of The Terror; member of the Committee for Public Safety) Context  France was at war with most of Europe  Civil war and rebellion in some regions of France (in some regions, up to 200 000 died) o Led by Nobles, other Monarchists, and fervent Catholics  Difficulties enlisting enough soldiers  Extreme economic problems o Significant inflation HISA04 Nov. 21 o Prices were soaring o Tax revenue was very low (many refused to pay taxes) o Foreign trade had dramatically fallen Robespierre  “The Incorruptible”  Leader of The Terror He presented his actions as the best outcome for France, even though some of his ideals went against Revolutionary ideas. Terror  After successfully stabilizing the Revolution, The Terror was increasingly focused on completely transforming the society o Policies attempting to wipe away the institutions and the culture of the Old Regime. Policies like “de-christianization,” the creation of Year I (resetting the calendar, as if the Revolution was the new beginning of the world), plans for compulsory education, and the new metric systems of measurement were meant to “combat the empire of routine” and “defeat the habits, the inclinations of citoyens.” “All the establishments [institutions] in France crown the unhappiness of the people; to make them happy they must be renewed: change their ideas, change their laws, change their moeurs; change men, change things, change words; destroy everything. Yes, destroy everything, since everything is to be recreated.” -Revolutionary leader Rabaut Saint-Étienne The “New Man” “The distance is enormous between what the people are and what they might be.” -revolutionary leader Abbé Grègoire “To be a true Republican, each citizen must experience and bring about in himself a revolution equal to the one which has changed France. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in common between the slave of a tyrant and the inhabitant of a free state; the customs of the latter, his principles, his sentiments, his actions, all must be new.” HISA04 Nov. 21 New Things Implemented by the Revolutionaries The revolutionaries‟ desire to create everything anew was simply breathtaking in its scope and ambition. On the institutional level the revolutionaries attempted to create new forms of:  central government (representative, democratic)  regional administration  military structure  Church  judicial system  legal code  national system of education  new type of free-market economy On the cultural level, among other changes, they attempted to recreate:  Language o Most people in France did not actually speak French, at the time o The government actually thought up a language based on decimals  Gender roles and gender relations  Rituals and festivals  Civic symbols  City planning  Fashion  Architecture  Publishing HISA04 Nov. 21 Tools of Regeneration Some examples of tools of regeneration  New lexicon (a “regenerated French language”)  Schools: public schools and top universities (grandes écoles)  Festivals  Monuments (e.g. the Temple of Reason)  Calendar o 1 month = 30 days, every month o 1 week = 10 days 
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