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Georg Forster, "On the Relationship of the People of Mainz to the Franks," delivered to the Society of the Friends of the People in Mainz (November 15, 1792)

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However, they have all disappeared from our purified land, which has been sanctified with freedom and equality. These monuments to the evil of the few and the weakness and confusion of the masses have been tossed into the sea of oblivion forever. To be free and equal, the motto of rational and moral people, has also now become our motto. For the use of his strengths, his body, and his spirit, everyone demands the same rights, the same freedom; only the diversity of these strengths determines their diverse application and usefulness. You fortunate one whom Nature has granted great spiritual merits or prodigious bodily strength, are you not satisfied to be equipped for such great enjoyment of your own strengths? How then are you allowed to deprive him, who is weaker than you, of the right to attempt to do what he can with his lesser strengths as long as it does not disadvantage another?

This, fellow citizens, is the language of reason, which for so long was misjudged and suffocated. We are allowed to say it out loud here, here where it was never to be heard as long as the discharge of the breed of people, namely the degenerate, weak-minded, privileged ones, suppressed their superior, unprivileged brothers. That we hear this speech here, who else do we have to thank for this than the free, the equal, the brave Franks?

It is true that from a young age the Germans are infused with an aversion towards their French neighbors; it is true that their customs, their language, and their temperaments are different; it is true that when the most gruesome monsters still ruled in France, then Germany smoldered at their behest, that the count of Louvois, whose name History will preserve so that the people can curse him, set the Palatinate on fire, and Louis XIV, a miserable despot, lent his name to this hateful order. Do not let yourselves be misled, fellow citizens, by the events of the past; the freedom of the Franks is only four years old, and look, already they are a new, remade people; they, the vanquishers of our tyrants, fall into our arms as our brothers, they protect us, and they give us the most touching proof of their brotherly loyalty, in that they want to share with us their freedom for which they paid so dearly — and this is the first year of the republic! So can freedom work in the hearts of people, so does it sanctify the temple that it inhabits!

What were we only three weeks ago? How could the wonderful transformation happen so quickly, from oppressed, abused, silent subjects of a priest, to unbending, vocal, free citizens, in the bold joy of freedom and equality, ready to live free or die! Fellow citizens! Brothers! The power that so transformed us can meld the Franks and the Mainzers into one people!

Our languages are different — must our concepts also be?

Are Liberté and Egalité no longer the same treasure of humanity, if we call them freedom and equality? Since when has a difference in language made it impossible to obey the same law? Does not Russia's despot rule over hundreds of people of various tongues? Does not the Hungarian, the Bohemian, the Austrian, the Belgian, and the Milanese speak his own language, and are they all not subjects of one emperor? And were not the inhabitants of half the world once called citizens of Rome? Would it be more difficult for free peoples to jointly commit to the eternal truths, which have their foundation in the nature of humanity, than it was for the slave to obey a master?

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