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Friedrich Cotta, On the Constitution in France (ca. 1793)

Friedrich Cotta, a supporter of the pro-French revolutionary German republic in Mainz, describes the accomplishments of the French Revolution from the perspective of 1793, that is, after the proclamation of the republic. Note that Cotta primarily emphasizes revolutionary achievements fulfilling the liberal and democratic agendas, and does not dwell on the revolution’s instability or violence.

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On the State Constitution in France

Dear people!

You have for some time been hearing so much about the constitution in France; a part has despised it, but the better part has praised it. You ought to know what it consists of; you may then judge for yourselves whether it is good, or whether it is no better than your current one.

In France, all people are free. Thus, there are no bond-men there. Moreover, no man is the master of another, and even the employer can demand from the domestic or servant in matters of service only what has been agreed upon in the service contract.

In France, all people are equal in rights. Thus, the son of a farmer can, if he is qualified, become a minister or archbishop just as well as the son of a king, whereas in many other countries one cannot get such a post if one is not of ancient high-noble, ducal, or princely blood, whatever they call it. Also, in France a so-called nobleman or count has no preference whatsoever over the craftsman on account of his birth; the poor citizen finds before the judge just as much justice as the richest, and the latter, if he is deserving of punishment, will be punished the same way as the poor. Precisely because all people are equal, the nobility with all its privileges has been abolished for ever.

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