The Jacobin petition calling for the king’s abdication (1791)


On July 17th 1791, in the wake of the flight to Varennes and the king’s return to Paris, this Jacobin petition was drafted and presented to the National Assembly:


“Considering that in matters affecting the safety of the people… there has never been a more important question than that concerning the king’s desertion.

That the decree passed on July 15th contains no provision regarding Louis XVI.

That while obeying this decree, it is important to decide promptly the matter of this individual’s fate.

That this decision must be based on his conduct.

That Louis XVI, after having accepted the duties of kingship and sworn to defend the constitution, has deserted the post entrusted to him, has protested against this constitution by a declaration written and signed by his own hand, has sought to paralyse the executive power by his flight and orders, and to overthrow the constitution by his complicity with the men today accused of attacking it.

That his betrayal, his desertion, protestation (to say nothing of all the other criminal acts preceding, accompanying, and following these) entail a formal abdication of the constitutional crown entrusted to him.

That the National Assembly has judged him to this effect in taking over the executive authority, suspending the king’s powers, and holding him under arrest.

That new promises to observe the constitution on Louis XVI’s part could not offer a sufficient guarantee to the nation against a new betrayal and a new conspiracy.

Considering that it would be as contrary to the majesty of the outraged nation as to its interests to entrust the reins of the empire to a perfidious, traitorous fugitive, [this meeting] formally and expressly demands that the National Assembly accept, in the nation’s name, Louis XVI’s abdication on June 21st of the crown delegated to him, and provide for his replacement by all constitutional means.

The undersigned declare that they will never recognise Louis XVI as their king, unless the majority of the nation expresses a desire contrary to that contained in the present nation.”