Anacharsis Cloots 1792

Speech Given in the Name of the Prussian Fédérés, August 12, 1792

Source: Anacharsis Cloots, Ecrits Révolutionnaires, 1790-1794, présentés par Michele Duval. Paris, Editions Champ Libre, 1979;
Translated: for by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2004.


There would be no slaves left on earth if the text of your law was understood by the troops of men groaning beneath the rod of a few men called kings. Monarch’s thrones are miserable trestle tables in the eyes of the man who has read the seventeen articles of the Declaration of Rights. Never has a crown-wearer, a crowned executive power, been anything but a disorganizing power.

The delirium of tyrants forces you to spread enlightenment arms in hand. You have wisely conceived the project of forming different foreign legions. These phalanxes of interpreters, these bellicose dragomen will deal death to oppressors and give life to the oppressed. Translators of universal law, they will dissipate the shadows that hide the impostures of royalty from the sight of nations. The petitioners who have your attention at this moment have sworn the deliverance of their penates. Prussians, they promise to attract to their side the satellites of a Brandenburgian Sardanopolis. Legislators: we offer you a Prussian legion.

This brave Vandal, who you see covered with honorable scars, is a colonel whose merit Frederick the Great was able to distinguish in long and famous wars. The unconcern and ingratitude of Frederich-Wilhelm, the hereditary hatred toward us of the House of Austria, the love that we hereditarily have for the French, the natural horror of despotism, all inspire the most just of vengeances in this warrior whose name is dear to the conquerors of Silesia.

All enlightened Prussians share the sentiments of Prince Heinrich, of Generals Mollendorf, Kalkrenth, and Sheffen. The opinion of Minister Hertzberg, who was at first undecided, is decidedly favorable to France. Berlin and Paris are perfectly in agreement in their aversion to the tyrants of Lorraine. As the treasury of the Spree is exhausted public opinion will grow stronger, and the heroism of the French people will triumph over the idiocy of the court at Potsdam.

The philosophy of Voltaire and Rousseau put down too solid roots under a glorious 46-year reign for the fatherland of Copernicus, the capitol and refuge of the reformers of Germany and France, to ally itself with Austria in order to re-establish Papistry and Machiavellianism on the banks of the Seine. A dull murmur is making itself heard in all Protestant countries. The Duke of Brunswick himself is overwhelmed with dark thoughts on the fate of his religion and his principality. Will the King of Prussia, more gallant than his predecessor, persist in ruining himself for two women, for Antoinette of Lorraine and Catherine of Russia? Prussian officers are too reasonable and too educated to ignore the true interests of Brandenburg. They deplore the ineptitude of a crazed king by invoking the manes of a philosopher king and by turning their gaze towards the heir presumptive, who openly protests against the absurd league of Pillnitz. The Prussian soldier will half-heartedly fight for Imperials he hates and for émigrés he holds in contempt. There is not a single family in Prussia who doesn’t have some reason to seek vengeance for the barbarian policies of Vienna, Versailles and Petersburg.

Two great errors give birth to most of our ills: the fraudulent sovereignty of princes and the partial sovereignty of peoples. The moment is here to repatriate all members of the human family through the promulgation of the eternal principle of the indivisible sovereignty of the human race. The rights of man are the same everywhere: one law, one sovereign. Without this salutary principle the least hamlet could make itself into a sovereign, sadly isolate itself, and spread discord on the earth. But with this luminous and fecund principle, with this first commandment of nature, an unalterable harmony will cover the globe with all the benefits of perpetual peace.

Legislators, our Prussian fédérés ask you for a military regime. We know all the byways and exits of the Hercynian Forest: we will be more fortunate than Varus. You will never have to ask a second time for a legion invincible through the ascendancy that truth has over lies, and freedom over slavery. Say the word and we will be off.