Source Problems on the French Revolution

Contents:

16. Jefferson, Correspondence, letter to John Jay, II, 483.

Paris, June 24, 1789.

SIR,—My letter of the 17th and 18th gave you the progress of the states general to the 17th, when the Tiers had declared the illegality of all the taxes and their discontinuance from the end of their present session. The next day, being a jour de fête, could furnish no indication of the impression that the vote was likely to make on the government. On the 19th a council was held at Marly, in the afternoon. It was there proposed that the king should interpose by a declaration of his sentiments in a séance royale. The declaration prepared by M. Necker, while it censured, in general, the proceedings both of the nobles and the commons, announced the king’s views, such as substantially to coincide with the commons. It was agreed to in council, as also that the séance royale should be held on the 22d and the meetings till then be suspended.... It was intimated to them [the commons], however, that day [June 20th], privately, that the proceedings of the séance royale would be favorable to them. The next day they met in a church and were joined by a majority of the clergy. The heads of the aristocracy saw that all was lost without some violent exertion. The king was still at Marly. Nobody was permitted to approach him but their friends. He was assailed by lies in all shapes. He was made to believe that the commons were going to absolve the army from their oath of fidelity to him and to raise their pay.... They procured a committee to be held, consisting of the king and his ministers, to which monsieur and the Comte d’Artois should be admitted. At this committee the latter attacked M. Necker personally, arraigned his plans, and proposed one which some of his enemies had put into his hands. M. Necker, whose characteristic is want of firmness, was browbeaten and intimidated, and the king shaken. He determined that the two plans should be deliberated on the next day and the séance royale put off a day longer. This encouraged a fiercer attack on M. Necker the next day; his plan was totally dislocated, and that of the Comte d’Artois inserted into it. Himself and M. de Montmorin offered their resignation, which was refused; the Comte d’Artois saying to M. Necker: "No, sir, you must be kept as the hostage; we hold you responsible for all the ill which shall happen." This change of plan was immediately whispered without doors. The nobility were in triumph, the people in consternation. When the king passed, the next day, through the lane they formed from the Château to the Hôtel des États (about half a mile), there was a dead silence. He was about an hour in the house, delivering his speech and declaration, copies of which I inclose you. On his coming out a feeble cry of "Vive le roi!" was raised by some children; but the people remained silent and sullen. When the Duc d’Orléans followed, however, their applauses were excessive. This must have been sensible to the king. He had ordered, in the close of his speech, that the members should follow him and resume their deliberations the next day. The Noblesse followed him, and so did the clergy, except about thirty, who, with the Tiers, remained in the room and entered into deliberation. They protested against what the king had done, adhered to all their former proceedings, and resolved the inviolability of their own persons. An officer came twice to order them out of the room, in the king’s name, but they refused to obey. In the afternoon the people, uneasy, began to assemble in great num-bets in the courts and vicinities of the palace. The queen was alarmed and sent for M. Necker. He was conducted amid the shouts and acclamations of the multitude who filled all the apartments of the palace, He was a few minutes only with the queen, and about three-quarters of an hour with the king. Not a word has transpired of what passed at these interviews. The king was just going out to ride. He passed through the crowd to his carriage and into it without being in the least noticed. As M. Necker followed him universal acclamations were raised of "Viva Monsieur Neckar, vive le sauveur de la France opprimée." He was conducted back to his house with the same demonstrations of affection and anxiety. About two hundred deputies of the Tiers, catching the enthusiasm of the moment, went to his house and extorted from him a promise that he would not resign. These circumstances must wound the hem of the king, desirous as he is to possess the affections of his subjects. As soon as the proceedings at Versailles were known at Paris a run began on the Caisse d’escompte, which is the first symptom always of the public diffidence and alarm. It is the less in condition to meet the run, as M. Necker has been forced to make free with its funds for the daily support of the government.

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Chicago: "16. Jefferson, Correspondence, Letter to John Jay, II, 483," Source Problems on the French Revolution in Source Problems on the French Revolution, ed. Fred Morrow Fling and Helene Dresser Fling (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1913), 155–158. Original Sources, accessed February 21, 2024, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=FRT69ZZVJU56UN7.

MLA: . "16. Jefferson, Correspondence, Letter to John Jay, II, 483." Source Problems on the French Revolution, Vol. II, in Source Problems on the French Revolution, edited by Fred Morrow Fling and Helene Dresser Fling, New York, Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1913, pp. 155–158. Original Sources. 21 Feb. 2024. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=FRT69ZZVJU56UN7.

Harvard: , '16. Jefferson, Correspondence, Letter to John Jay, II, 483' in Source Problems on the French Revolution. cited in 1913, Source Problems on the French Revolution, ed. , Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York, pp.155–158. Original Sources, retrieved 21 February 2024, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=FRT69ZZVJU56UN7.