French Revolution 1792

You’re Thumbing Your Noses at Us:

Address of the Brave Sans-Culottes to the National Convention

Source: Anonymous, Vous foutez-vous de nous. Paris, l’Imprimerie des Sans-Culottes, 1792;
Spoken: 28 November, 1792;
Translated: from the original for by Mitch Abidor 2007;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2007.


Feeling the sharpest of pains at the sight of the hatred and dissension that reign among you, the Sans-Culottes will in this place and with their usual energy, condemn you for your slowness, your inexactitude, your inaction and will prove to you that you are thumbing your noses at us.

You order us to make ourselves a constitution, to see to our needs, and to save the fatherland. What do you do to fulfill your mission? It appears you hold all the means to ignite civil war and to propagate anarchy.

The whole time of your sessions is spent in vain denunciations, in vain responses to denunciations. You eloquently tell us that Robespierre wants to be Dictator. You incite public hatred against him. You carpet the streets of the capitol with posters on which you threaten this one and that one. Honestly: is this the sublime role that legislators should play? What does it matter to us that Robespierre wanted to be Dictator, that he wanted to elevate Marat to that dignity? Don’t you know that we said that we no longer want a master? You say that this Marat is a bloodthirsty man who constantly incites the people to murder and carnage. You have a high opinion of the people! What? You think that Marat will incite the people to carnage? You’re thumbing your noses at us.

Know that the people are just, and that when you will all league together to command them to commit an injustice they will know how to punish your audacity. Let us pass now to your decrees.

For the more than two months that you have been assembled what have you done? You decreed the fall of the King. You metamorphosed the monarchy into a republic, and you have fulfilled our wishes. We hoped for tranquility and peace after this, and we thank the divinity for having so well enlightened us on the choice to be made; our happiness did not last long. We were suddenly seized with vertigo. The perfidious King should have been punished for his crime; this was the hope of all Frenchmen, and two months later you still haven’t decided if he is to be judged.

You decreed that your sessions will begin at 9:00 and that you would spend two hours on the judgment of the King. And have you executed this decree? No, because at 11:00 there are never more than fifty deputies in the hall. Gentlemen, you should preach by example. An honorable member, who was probably bothered by having to get up so early, thus had it decreed – to your great contentment – that you would spend two sessions a week at this famous trial, and the other decree fell by the wayside. You think you will lull us for a long while yet, but believe us: the people have seen that you are thumbing your noises at them.

You say that the constitution rendered him inviolable; did we sanction this constitution? No, because we just abolished it. In vain you speak to us of other nations. We want, and we have always wanted, no one in the republic to be above the law. It would even be cruel not to judge him. The King is either guilty or innocent. In the latter case should you be keeping him in prison? On the contrary, shouldn’t he, like you, enjoy the benefits of liberty and equality?

Aren’t you thumbing your noses at us when you tell us that Paris and all of France are threatened with a famine and that we have to buy wheat from other countries? Do you think us foolish enough to believe that after as abundant a harvest as the last one we are forced to borrow from foreigners, what is almost always forced to be asked for. But we know full well that the clique of monopolists have enormous storehouses in Gersey and elsewhere. But we also know that much more is left for us than we need. Force, then, by a rigorous decree, the large landowners, the big farmers, and all those who have storehouses of this commodity of primary necessity to take their wheat to the market. Tax the price of it in keeping with its differing qualities and put it in storehouses that will be under your discreet surveillance.

You will doubtless object that this goes against the system of liberty that you have established. On the contrary, we are going to prove that in not doing this you will forever annihilate liberty and equality. In fact, a hundred individuals who will monopolize all the production of the empire could very easily put the nation again in the yoke by giving or refusing it food. Only that portion of men would then be free. You are certainly not ignorant of the fact that this was the infamous policy of tyrants who, to have themselves loved by the people, diminished, as the need arose, the price of bread, which they did quite often before charging them with new irons because, they said, the canaille no longer cries out when they have bread.

You are told that Paris only has provisions for a month, and you still don’t act. Who did you charge with seeing to the subsistence of that great city? Bakers, wretches who, together with Necker, caused a frightful famine in 1789, the example of which has never been found in the history of any people.

Legislators, we repeat, it is time that you put an end to monopolizing, that you rigorously punish its authors, for your negligence is beginning to make us believe that some among you are the chiefs or the accomplices in this infamous traffic. And when the people have suspicions, they almost always sees its suspicions turn into reality.

We thought it our duty to warn you and advise you that we would hate to be forced to make the National Convention experience the same fate as the former municipality. We know the main monopolists, and we will do them the kindness of not naming them here, persuaded that returned to their senses at the sight of the misfortunes into which they would precipitate the republic, they will be the first to accept this demand.

If this petition doesn’t meet with the success we have the right to expect, then we’ll make a new one, which will be the last one; in which we will reveal all the traitors who, under the mask of patriotism, want to overturn the holy edifice of liberty and equality. And then we’ll see if you’ll still thumb your noses at us.

Paris, this 28th of November, 1792
The First year of the Republic.