The French Revolution in Myth and Reality- Edited by Janusz Adamowski- Translated by Alex Shannon
We: The Nation
National unity on the ruins of regional differences Let us read from a cahier de doléances from a small town in Orléanais. “All subjects in the kingdom make up a single nation, under the same ruler, and thus should constitute a family, subordinate to one and the same régime”. The first part of this sentence is, essentially, a description, though it is idealized and we do not need to completely believe it. This sentence also contains three distinc- tive claims, which are essentially normative statements, and all three of them, as it turned out, played important roles in the larger revolutionary process. First, the claim regarding the creation of “a single nation” out of – as Mira- beau described it – an aggregate of weakly connected people, a single Nation, confident and conscious of its own identity. Second, the transformation of all the French people into one great family. In the eighteenth-century revolutionary dis- course, the idea of “family” was prominent both among the Americans and the French.81 The Americans were first sons (Sons of Liberty) in order to then trans- form themselves (rather, their great representatives) into fathers: Washington became the Father of the Nation, and the creators of the new state system be- came the Founding Fathers. As sons, Americans had a certain ancestry, includ- ing the wicked British stepmother, but also the honest and hardworking Father of the Pioneers. And they had a certain patrimonium, a certain legacy, which they wanted to convert into a new...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.