The Assembly declares ‘La patrie en danger’ (1792)


On July 11th 1792 the Legislative Assembly issued this address to the people, declaring “La Patrie en danger!” and challenging them to enlist for war service:


“An address to the French people…

Your constitution rests on the principles of eternal justice. A league of kings has been formed in order to destroy it; their battalions are advancing, they are numerous, subject to rigorous discipline, and trained long ago in the art of war.

Do you not feel a noble ardour arousing your courage? Would you allow foreign hordes to spread like a destroying torrent over your countryside? To ravage our harvest? To devastate our fatherland through fire and murder? In a word, to fetter you with chains dyed in the blood of that which you hold the most dear?

Our armies are yet barely brought to completion, an imprudent sense of security moderated the spirit of patriotism too early; the recruitment which was ordered did not have as much success as your representatives had hoped. Interior agitation increases the difficulty of our position; our enemies indulge in foolish hopes which are an outrage against you.

Make haste, citizens, save liberty and avenge your glory. The National Assembly declares that the homeland is in danger…

You swore the oath to live freely or to die. We know that you will keep it, and it swears to be an example to you in this. But it is not a question of braving death. We must conquer: and you can do it, if you renounce your hatreds, if you forget your political differences, if you all rally to the common cause, if you keep watch with untiring activity over the enemies within, if you avoid all disturbances and the individual violence that begets them, if you fly to the borders and into our camps, with the generous enthusiasm of liberty, and the profound sentiment of the duties of citizen soldiers.

Men of France, who for the last four years have struggled against despotism, we warn you of the dangers assailing you, in order to invite you to make the efforts necessary to surmount them. We are showing you the precipice, what glory awaits you when you have crossed over it! Nations contemplate you; surprise them with the majestic display of your forces and of your great traits, unity, respect for the law, unshakeable courage, and soon victory will crown the altar of liberty with its palm…”