Anacharsis Cloots 1790

Speech on Behalf of the Committee of Foreigners

Translated: from the original broadsheetfor by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2006.

The imposing fasces of all the flags of the French Empire that are to be deployed on July 14 on the Champs de Mars, in the same place that Julian crushed all prejudices, where Charlemagne surrounded himself with all virtues, this civic solemnity will be not only the festival of the French but, even more, the festival of the human race. The trumpet that sounded the resurrection of a great people has reverberated in the four corners of the globe, and the songs of joy of 25,000,000 free men have awakened peoples buried under a long period of slavery. The wisdom of your decrees, messieurs, the unity of the children of France, this ravishing tableau causes despots bitter worries, and just hopes in enslaved nations.

To us, too, has come a great thought, and we dare say it will complement the great national day! A number of foreigners from all the countries of the earth ask to be allowed to line up in the middle of the Champ de Mars, and the liberty bonnet they’ll raise with joy will be the guarantee of the imminent deliverance of their unhappy fellow citizens. At Roman triumphs they were all too happy to drag the vanquished behind their chariots. You, honorable messieurs, in the most honorable of contrasts, you will see in your cortege free men whose fatherlands are in chains, and whose fatherlands will be free one day under the influence of your unshakeable courage and philosophical laws. Our vows and our homage will be the bonds attaching us to your triumphal chariots.

Never was there a more sacred ambassadorship. Our letters of appointment aren’t written on parchment; our mission is engraved in ineffaceable characters in the hearts of all men. And thanks to the authors of the DECLARATION OF RIGHTS these characters will no longer be unintelligible to tyrants.

Messieurs, you have genuinely recognized that sovereignty resides in the people. Everywhere the people are under the yoke of dictators who, despite your principles, call themselves sovereigns. Dictatorship is usurped, but sovereignty is inviolable, and the ambassadors of tyrants cannot honor your august festival as can most of us whose mission was tacitly acknowledged by our compatriots, by the oppressed sovereigns.

What a lesson for despots! What consolation for unfortunate peoples when we will teach them that the first nation of Europe, in gathering together its banners, gave us a sign of the happiness of France and the two worlds!

We will await, messieurs, in a respectful silence, the result of your deliberations on our petition, dictated to us by the enthusiasm of universal liberty.

Response of the President to the deputations of the different foreign countries:


You have today proved to the entire universe that the progress made in philosophy and in the knowledge of the Rights of Man by one nation equally belong to other nations. It has been shown that there are eras that influence the happiness and the unhappiness of all parts of the globe, and France dares today to flatter itself that the example it has just given will be followed by those peoples who, knowing how to appreciate liberty, will teach monarchs that their true grandeur consists in commanding free men and executing laws, and that they can only be happy by causing the happiness of those who chose them to govern.

Yes, messieurs, France will honor itself in admitting you to the civic festival whose preparation the National Assembly has just ordered. But as the price for this beneficence, it believes it has the right to demand of you a striking testimony of your recognition.

After the august ceremony, return to the places of your birth. Tell your monarchs, tell your administrators, whatever name they bear, that if they are jealous of passing their memory on to the most distant posterity, tell them that they have only to follow the example of Louis XVI, the Restorer of French Liberty.

The National Assembly invites you to participate in its session.