The World's Famous Orations/Volume 7/Speech to the Directory

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III

SPEECH TO THE DIRECTORY[1]

(1797)

Citizens, the French people, in order to be free, had kings to combat. To obtain a Constitution founded on reason, it had the prejudices of eighteen centuries to overcome, The Constitution of the year 3 and you have triumphed over all obstacles. Religion, feudalism, royalty have successively for twenty centuries past governed Europe; but from the peace which you have just concluded dates the era of republican governments.

You have succeeded in organizing the great nation whose vast territory is circumscribed only because Nature herself has fixed its limits. You have done more. The two finest countries in Europe, formerly so renowned for the arts, the sciences, and the great men whose cradle they were, see with the greatest hopes genius and freedom issuing from the tomb of their ancestors. These are two pedestals on which the destinies are about to place two powerful nations.

I have the honor to deliver to you the treaty signed at Campo Formio, and ratified by his majesty, the emperor. Peace insures the liberty, prosperity, and the glory of the Republic. When the happiness of the French people shall be seated on better organic laws, all Europe shall become free.

  1. Delivered on December 10, 1797, soon after bis arrival in Paris, victorious from Italy and bringing the Treaty of Campo Formio. The Moniteur of Paris, in its report of this speech, said the speaker's "simple and modest countenance contrasted with his great reputation." According to St. Amand the speech, "delivered in a jerky voice with a tone of command, produced a deeper impression than would have done the voice of the most famous orators of the century." The translation was made for Thiers's "History of the French Revolution."
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