January 20, 1792: Brissot on War

  • Paul H. Beik
Part of the The Documentary History of Western Civilization book series (DHWC)


At the end of 1791 and in early 1792, when Brissot and Robespierre were contesting each other’s views on foreign policy in a series of speeches, Jacques Pierre Brissot had behind him the more varied career. He was thirty-eight to Robespierre’s thirty-four. He had been a prolific writer on law and politics in the 1780s, had been a journalist in London, one of the founders of the Société des Amis des Noirs, and had been in America. On the other hand, he had also been in financial tangles and been imprisoned in the Bastille for a political brochure, and although he had founded perhaps the first of the newspapers of the revolution, the Patriote françois he had not been elected deputy until the Legislative Assembly. Brissot at this time was just coming into his own at the Jacobins and in the Assembly. He and the Brissotins were to win the war argument and take an early lead in the Convention after the overthrow of the monarchy, but the war and wartime conditions were to put them to a severe test and lead to their overthrow in the crisis of May 31–June 2, 1793. The speech below is from the pamphlet version as ordered published by the Jacobin Club where it was delivered: Société des amis de la constitution, séante aux Jacobins, â Paris. Troisième discours de J. P. Brissot, député, sur la nécessité de la guerre; prononcé it la société, le 20 janvier 1792 (s.l.n.d., 18 pp.). Four paragraphs of the conclusion have been omitted. They note that Robespierre is almost alone in his position, and assure the audience that Brissot has no hard feelings.


French Revolution Executive Power Early Lead Great Nation Home Fire 
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© Paul H. Beik 1970

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  • Paul H. Beik

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