Jules Vallès 1871

Our People

Source: Jules Vallès, le Cri du Peuple. Editeurs francais réunis, Paris, 1953;
First published: Le Cri du Peuple, Friday April 7,1871;
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2006.

They held out against an army. Before these improvised soldiers the General Staff of illustrious generals was forced to line up, worried and grave, trembling and desperate!

All those victors of Algeria and Mexico, those who triumphed in Italy, this whole old plumed world, covered in spittle and glory had to remain silent.

Constables and gendarmes had to be signed up at so much a head, at three francs a day; rehabilitation had to be promised to the bohemia of Legitimacy and the Empire; it was necessary to distribute crosses to these and to promise posts to those in order to obtain a forward march for the removal of a few barricades and the conquering of a few positions. My god, yes!

What can be said of these poor victories! What do they prove once we realize that at the last minute the fédérés suddenly shook free the triumph, and that there was hesitation and disarray among those captains who saw those civic battalions come on, return and return again, indomitable and proud, ready to be mowed down rather than lower their flag before the enemy!

The Revolution is safe! Nothing that the calculations of treason or the chance of battle could bring can do anything in the future against republican Paris. Even if a million men were to pass over these paving stones they couldn’t crush the harvest!

Look then! These insurgents were called gypsies and bandits! Their generals were possessed of the sang froid of heroes, and from their smashed faces they have spit their blood in the face of the assassins!

Not a single example of hesitation or weakness has been cited! Duval, Henry, Flourens and all the others laughed in the face of their executioners!

Such chiefs have never been seen; unknown chiefs issued from the people. What mattered the taking of this redoubt, the conquest of that field, the occupation of that hill?

It was a matter of showing that with neither plan nor discipline the people knew how to face up to the strategists and statesmen; that a corner of the world called Paris put the entire past, monarchical, clerical and military in its place and thwarted it! It was necessary to cook something up, to lie and betray in order to have the appearance of winning for a day!

Noble Paris! Proud city! Throng of heroes!

How sad and proud they looked today behind Henry’s coffin, he who was killed from afar by the fire of Mont Valerien.

“Vengeance!” said some

“We only want justice,” said most of them.

And the very father of the victim asked that the assassins of his son be forgiven! Perhaps at that very moment Gallifet and his drunken officers amused themselves with the agonies of our people and laughingly recounted how they had executed our men before a firing squad and then crushed them under their boots by the corner of a wall!

Will this last long? Paris must declare itself!

Will it be the march on Versailles? Will it be the freeing of Paris?


We will return to this, like Cato and Carthage! Every day, until our tongues have been cut out.

We can all agree on this! But we must hurry!

We must hurry, because the people are sometimes subject to terrible furies that demand fearful reprisals.

They are given the example of crime: prisoners slaughtered and wounded, men who are finished off! And if it were to see red tomorrow and call for a head for a head, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth!

Men of feeling, honest men, republicans, you must hurry!

Do you want a Paris that is a free city, a happy city? Or do you want a furious Paris, even if it has been crushed and defeated?

Let’s go! Let the upstairs and the downstairs come to terms and make peace within the next two days. Whoever works: small boss, poor worker, forward and live! We want our freedom! ... Or death!

And in keeping with the answer given we will join together, in labor or in combat!

Time is passing, and blood overflows, the blood of our people! But it is time to close the wound!