March 10, 1793: Danton on Crisis Measures
Georges Jacques Danton at the time of this session of the National Convention was in his early thirties and famous for having, as Minister of Justice following the overthrow of the monarchy on August 10, 1792, rallied opinion in the Legislative Assembly and the public to resist the advancing Prussians. By virtue of his office, he had also had a large share of the responsibility for not stopping the September massacres. Danton had given up the ministry to be a Parisian deputy to the Convention, where he found the Girondins cool to his advances and moved toward the Mountain politically. Although haunted by rumors of mismanagement of funds and to some extent by the September massacres, Danton was to go on to become a member of the first Committee of Public Safety, an institution for which, along with the Revolutionary Tribunal, he helped prepare the way in the speeches of March 10, given at a time of crisis when news reports of defeats in Belgium were coming in and there was an atmosphere of mounting tension in the assembly. On this occasion Danton spoke several times. His two principal interventions are given below, separated by bracketed material explaining the course of the debate. The source is the Réimpression de l’ancien Moniteur Vol. XV (Paris, 1847), pp. 679-680, 683. Danton’s speeches were seldom prepared in advance. He seized a moment when he wanted to accomplish something and improvised with great effect, imposing his powerful voice and personality.
KeywordsPublic Safety French Revolution Good Citizen Executive Power Constitutional Principle
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