Paine in the Convention
The King’s trial was a turning point both for the history of the French Revolution and for Paine. He actively took part in it and stepped in the debates at key moments in ways that first matched the majority of the Convention and then that displeased a part of its members because Paine stuck to his definition of the efficient revolution as a symbolic and educational regicide. This chapter shows how Paine then became a much more controversial figure, even if hints of this are retrospectively visible from the moment when he was made a French citizen in August 1792. It also analyses how Paine faced what he saw as an unfair decision (the death sentence against Louis XVI) made by a legitimate representative body which he felt contradicted what the common people’s choice might have been. This chapter then examines Paine’s role in the first constitutional committee appointed in the fall 1792. It especially demonstrates that what previous studies had taken for granted about Paine’s role in this committee should be reappraised. It is highly unlikely that Paine was the author of the Declaration which appeared in the plan presented by Condorcet in February 1793. The very few papers and materials that have survived to assess Paine’s contribution to the work of the committee are not sufficient to establish how he weighed on the final institutional layout of this first constitutional plan, which was soon overridden by Montagnards.