Voltaire vs. Rousseau on the French Revolution:


For your next project, you will work in groups to prepare a presentation for class on the French Revolution. Do a good job because you have an essay due on this topic next Thursday!

Essay Topic: How, if they had lived, would Voltaire and Rousseau have debated the political philosophies justifying the three different stages of the French Revolution? How would they have responded to the thinkers worldwide who applauded or denounced the revolution?

Resources on Voltaire and Rousseau:

To research your presentation, you will be reading both primary and secondary sources.

A. To begin, skim this overview of the French Revolution:

B. Next you should read the overview of your group's topic, another secondary source.

Group One: The Liberal Revolution:

Group Two: The Radical Revolution:

Group Three: Napoleon and the Napoleonic Code:

Group Four: Reactions to the French Revolution:

C. Then you and your group members should divide up responsibilities for reading the various primary sources. Read your document and summarize the main point that is being made by the writer. Find good quotes to support your interpretation.

D. Next, decide what Voltaire and Rousseau would have thought of your writer's idea.

E. Finally, get together with your partners and decide what Voltaire and Rousseau would have said about your general topic. Present your conclusions to the class in a PowerPoint presentation.

F. Be careful to document your sources and to use proper MLA format in preparing your presentation.

Group One: The Liberal Revolution:


The Crisis of the Monarchy (Hooker) (2ndary) Study Guide
The Liberal Revolution (Hooker)(2ndary) Study Guide
The Origins of the French Revolution (2ndary) Kreis
The French Revolution: The Moderate Stage, 1789-1792 (2ndary) Kreis
Social Causes of the Revolution (George Mason)
Outline of the French Revolution (Powerpoint)

  • The Estates General
  • The National Assembly
  • The Capture of the Bastille
  • The Great Fear
  • Declaration of the Rights of Man
  • The Civil Constitution of the Clergy
  • The Constitution of 1791


Poverty Observed: Journal of a Country Priest (1708) (GMU) (Primary) 
Poverty in Auvergne (GMU) (Primary) 
The Saint–Marcel Neighborhood (1783) (GMU) (Primary) 
Observing the French Peasantry on the Eve of Revolution (GMU) (Primary) 
Louis XV Asserts His Absolute Authority over Parlement (1765) (GMU) (Primary) 
Members of the Lower Class Voice their Grievances (1788(GMU) (Primary) 

A newspaper report on the storming of the Bastille (1789)
The British ambassador reports on the storming of the Bastille (July 1789)
Keversau, a stormer of the Bastille, speaks (1789)
Humbert recalls the taking of the Bastille (1789)
Perigny on the Great Fear peasant uprisings (August 1789)
Abbé Sieyes: What is the Third Estate? (1789) (Primary) 
Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (1789) excerpt. (Primary)
Declaration of the Rights of Man, (Primary) 
Decree Abolishing Feudalism (1789) (Primary)
Civil Constitution of the Clergy (1791) (Primary)

Voltaire's Understanding of Inequality (1765) (GMU) (Primary)
Montesquieu's Attack on the Nobility
(1721) (GMU) (Primary)
Beaumarchis' Understanding of Inequality
(1784) (GMU) (Primary)
Tension Between Rich and Poor
(1756) (GMU) (Primary)
Decree of the National Assembly Abolishing the Feudal System (11 August 1789) (GMU) (Primary)
Abolition of the Nobility (1790) (GMU) (Primary)
Beware the Wealthy Bourgeoisie (1791) (GMU) (Primary) 
Populace Awake (1790) (Primary) (GMU)
A Girondin View: Roland Calls on the King to Declare War (GMU)

Group Two: The Radical Revolution:


The Radical Revolution (Hooker) (2ndary) Study Guide
Outline of the French Revolution (Powerpoint)

  • The Declaration of Pillnitz
  • Counter Revolution
  • The Girondists
  • The Montagnard
  • The Sans-culottes
  • The Reign of Terror
  • The Levee en Masse

The French Revolution: The Radical Stage, 1792-1794 (2ndary) Kreis
Chartier, Roger. The Cultural Origins of the French Revolution.(excerpt) (2ndary) 


A Girondin View: Roland Calls on the King to Declare War (GMU)
Prudhomme’s Description of the Coup against the Girondins (31 May–2 June 1793) (GMU)
More Girondin Documents
Marat, "The King Is a Friend of the People" (29 December 1790 and 17 February 1791) (Marat Archive)
Marat, “What Men Are More Vain than the French?” (July 12, 1792) (Marat Archive)
Marat, "Louis Capet at the Bar of the Convention" (December 1792) (Marat Archive)
Marat, "The Execution of the Tyrant" (January 1793) (Marat Archive)
A contemporary account by Lebois of the murder of Jean-Paul Marat
Ca ira
 ('It'll be OK) (Song of the Sans-Culottes)
Hebert,  Père Duchesne Idealizes the Sans–culottes (1792)
The Marseillaise and Midi File or All Seven Verses in French (Primary)
Condorcet, Account of the Events of August 10, 1792 The Storming of the Tuilleries
The Permanent Guillotine, revolutionary song 1792
Address of the Brave Sans-Culottes to the National Convention, November 1792.
Proclamation of the Department of the Seine–et–Oise (9 March 1792)  (peasant on grain prices) (GMU)
Danton, To the Tribunals (1792)
What is a sans culotte? (1793)
Pere Duchesne on the life of the sans culottes (1794)
A British account of the execution of Charlotte Corday (August 1793)
Edmund Burke laments the execution of Marie-Antoinette (November 1793)
The Leveé en Masse, August 23, 1793  
Manifesto of the Enragés (1793) (Primary) 
Couthon, “That Wretched City Must Disappear” Letter  to St. Just (1793)
Saint-Just, Report On the Incarcerated (1793)
All the brigands....are finally exterminated, (1793)
Decree on the Republican Calendar
Robespierre, Defense of the Committee of Public Safety, 1793
Robespierre, Principles of Political Morality, February 1794
Robespierre, Justification of the Use of Terror, February 1794
Robespierre, On the Enemies of the Nation, May 1794
Robespierre, Festival of the Supreme Being, July 1794
Robespierre, Terror and Virtue (excerpts); Report on the Principles of Political Morality (1794)  Reading Guide 
Robespierre, On the Festival of the Supreme Being, 1794 (Primary) 
Edmund Burke,  The Death of Marie Antoinette (Primary)
Condorcet, The Future Progress of the Human Mind (1795) (Primary)
Early Socialism: from The Doctrine of Gracchus Babeuf 1795 (UVA) (Primary)

Group Three: Napoleon and the Napoleonic Code


(Hooker)(2ndary) Study Guide
Outline of the French Revolution (Powerpoint)
Europe and the Superior Being: Napoleon (2ndary) Kreis

  • The Thermidorean Reaction
  • Napoleon Bonaparte’s Rise to Power
  • The Consulate (1799-1804)
  • The Napoleonic Code
  • The Empire
  • The Hundred Days


The French Revolt and Empire: 1792-1815 (Secondary)
Napoleon, Speech to Troops (1796)
Napoleon,"The 18th Brumaire of the Year VIII" (1799); 
Napoleon, Napoleon's Proclamation to the French People on Brumaire (1799)
Napoleon, Brumaire Decree (1799)
Napoleon, Order for Suppressing the Newspapers January 17, 1800 (27 Nivôse, Year VIII)
Napoleon, Law for Re-establishing Slavery in the French Colonies May 20, 1802 (30 F1oréa1, Year X).
Napoleon, Account of the Situation of the Empire (1804)
from the Code Napoleon (1804); 
Napoleon, The Berlin Decree (1806);
Napoleon, Imperial Catechism (1806)
Napoleon,  Farewell to the Old Guard (1814)
Napoleon, The Return of Napoleon from Elba (1815)
Napoleon’s Conquests (Map)

O'Malley: Wellington's Crossing of the Douro, 1809 
Tolstoy, Count Leo Nikolayevich. War and Peace. Excerpt (Primary) 

Group Four: Reactions to the French Revolution


Europe in 1815: The Congress of Vienna; The Congress of Vienna and the Rise of German Nationalism (ppt) (Map)
The Congress of Vienna (Hooker) 
The Language of Politics: England and the French Revolution (2ndary) 
Outline of the French Revolution (Powerpoint)
On Burke: "Reactionary Prophet" Christopher Hitchens Atlantic Monthly April 2004 
Voltaire vs. Rousseau vs. Edmund Burke

Women and the French Revolution (Videos)

  • Revolutionary Movements Worldwide
  • The Congress of Vienna
  • Edmund Burke and Conservatism
  • Johan Fichte and German Nationalism


Haitian Revolutions: Crash Course World History #30 (Video)
Vincent Oge, the Younger, A Haitian Mulatto Claims Civil and Political Rights (Primary) 
Toussaint L'Ouverture and the Haitian Revolution (2ndary)
The Revolution on Santo Domingo (2ndary)

Olympe de Gouges. Declaration of the Rights of Woman and Citizen (Citoyenne), 1791, excerpt (Primary)
Mary Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) (commentary) (2ndary)

Europe in 1815: Reassertion of Conservatism at The Congress of Vienna; The Congress of Vienna and the Rise of German Nationalism (ppt) The Congress of Vienna (Hooker) 

Carlyle's Letters on the French Revolution 

Edmund Burke. Reflections on the Revolution in France, excerpt, 1791 (Primary)
Edmund Burke (1729-1797): Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1791, short excerpts (Primary)
Edmund Burke more short excerpts from Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1791 
Edmund Burke,  The Death of Marie Antoinette (Primary)

Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Thirteenth Address to the German Nation  except (Primary)
Thomas Paine (1737-1809): Rights on Man 1792 (commentary) (2ndary)