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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Danton: “To Dare Again, Ever To Dare!”

Probably the greatest orator of the French Revolution—and there were many great ones—was GeorgesJacques Danton [1759 – 1794]. It was Danton who inflamed the mob that stormed the Bastille. It was Danton who inspired the National Assembly and the people to fight the enemies of the Revolution who were marching on Paris. A radical advocate of the Reign of Terror, he later became appalled by its ceaseless flow of blood. For this he became suspect, was tried and condemned to the guillotine. The speech given here was delivered in the National Assembly in 1792.

It seems a satisfaction for the ministers of a free people to announce to them that their country will be saved. All are stirred, all are enthused, all burn to enter the combat.

You know that Verdun is not yet in the power of our enemies, and that its garrison swears to immolate the first who breathes a proposition of surrender.

One portion of our people will guard our frontiers, another will dig and arm the entrenchments, the third with pikes will defend the interior of our cities. Paris will second these great efforts. The commissioners of the Commune will solemnly proclaim to the citizens the invitation to arm and march to the defense of the country. At such a moment you can proclaim that the capital deserves the esteem of all France. At such a moment this national assembly becomes a veritable committee of war. We ask that you concur with us in directing this sublime movement of the people, by naming commissioners to second and assist all these great measures. We ask that any one refusing to give personal service or to furnish arms shall meet the punishment of death. We ask that proper instructions be given to the citizens to direct their movements. We ask that carriers be sent to all the departments to notify them of the decrees that you proclaim here. The tocsin we shall sound is not the alarm signal of danger, it orders the charge on the enemies of France. [Applause.] To conquer we have need to dare, to dare again, ever to dare! And the safety of France is insured.

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