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Revolution in Paris

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Democracy is a form of government where the people have sovereignty of their country and do not answer to the whims of private individuals or organizations. It tends to operate by consensus and compromise through which the welfare of the people is improved. Liberty and equality are its primary tenets and peace and prosperity are its ultimate goals. In theory, when the general will of the people is manifested, democracy will be the most beneficial political system. However, in practice, factors such as lack of information, personal greed or ambition and foreign interference cause it to fail. The nature of the democratic system is taken advantage of by someone or another for their own gain thereby ruining it in the process.

But what if democracy reached the point where it can sustain itself, against foreign and domestic influences, in pursuit of its own preservation and success? This could only happen in the nascent stages of its modern development, in a day when the ways through which it could be corrupted and manipulated had not been devised. The 18th century was such a period. American colonists had ousted the British from the Thirteen Colonies since 1783 and Parisians were growing discontent with their monarch, Louis XVI. Although this brief wave of revolution failed to firmly spread to other countries, an earlier and more immediately successful French Revolution, that faced less of the stumbling blocks that it did in reality, might have led to a more democratic world.


On 20 June 1789 the Third Estate and parts of the First Estate of France's legislative government, which had reorganized themselves into the National Assembly of France, were forced by the King to relocate to a tennis court. There they swore the Tennis Court Oath, promising that their assembly would not adjourn until it had drafted a new constitution for France. King Louis XVI, respectful of the members of the Third Estate though unimpressed by their jostling for political power, requested on 27 June that they disband in a peaceful manner. The following day, a refusal from the Assembly was brought to the King, signed by all 580 members of the Third Estate and some 240 members of the Clergy.

An uneasy peace still hung over Paris, though the National Assembly had been forced out of the tennis court into the Versailles Cathedral, where it continued to deliberate over the constitution. However, it could not cease for a moment because the King was prepared to bar entry to the Cathedral once he got the chance. News of the stalemate spread to the streets of Paris and by early July, riots were breaking out. The Gardes Françaises of King Louis XVI eventually joined the fray on the side of the mob. On 14 July, the growing force of Parisians stormed the prison and fortress in Paris known as the Bastille in order to gather the weapons and ammunition stored inside. Meanwhile, the King was holed up in his palace at Versailles, defended by his Swiss Guards and still unwilling to recognize the National Assembly and its efforts to form a constitution.

The threat of further violence in the city drew the support of mayor Jacques de Flesselles against the King. On 24 July, the mob and Gardes Françaises arrived at Versailles and besieged the palace. Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and their family were captured within hours and quickly brought back to Paris in the company of the victorious National Assembly, renamed the National Constituent Assembly in July 9. The French Revolution had reached its climax and human civilization was about to change forever.

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