10th Grade French Revolution Inquiry



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Supporting Question


For the second supporting question, students build on their understanding of the Revolution by analyzing how the relationship between the French people and the king changed within the early stages of the era. The development of the Revolution’s first stages helps them understand the complexity of revolutionary reforms and their impact, or lack thereof, on the French people. Students should evaluate whether rights and privileges were gained in theory or in practice and evaluate the value of such gains. They can look back at the political, social, and economic problems to corroborate whether or not early successes addressed and remedied the prerevolutionary issues.

Formative Performance Task


The formative performance task for this supporting question requires students to write one or two paragraphs explaining how the relationship between the French people and the king changed between 1789 and1793, thereby giving students experience with the social studies practice Chronological Reasoning and Causation. In their explanations, students should describe how the relationship between the king and the people changed over time using sources from Formative Performance Tasks 1 and 2. For example, students will want to cite the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, 1789, as a direct challenge to absolutism and the divine right of the king. As they work through the sources to support their explanation, they will use the social studies practice of Gathering, Using, and Interpreting Evidence. This explanation can be the starting place for the claims that students will write to respond to the compelling question.

Featured Sources


Featured Source A, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, 1789, is the seminal document of the French Revolution. Teachers will want to ensure that students have the background information to understand why it was written (e.g., the Tennis Court Oath, the Estates General). Students should then be able to read the text and use it to articulate how the French people were directly challenging the authority of the king and why this action was so significant. For students who need assistance navigating the source, consider having them read with a partner or do a whole-group reading of the source before asking students to begin their analyses. Also, the text could be shortened to focus students on a key idea. For example, the following clause from the document demonstrates a direct challenge to the divine right of the king, arguing that power is derived from the populace.

The principle of all sovereignty rests essentially in the nation. No body and no individual may exercise authority which does not emanate expressly from the nation.

Students should also read Featured Source B, the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and Citizen, 1791, which allows them to broaden their understanding of how women began to advocate for their own citizenship and, thus, challenge the rule of law. Although Olympe de Gouges was unsuccessful (she was executed in the Reign of Terror), the document sits alongside the Declaration of the Rights of Man as a symbol for enlightened ideals that fueled the Revolution.



Featured Source C, the Decree Abolishing the Feudal System, 1789, highlights a number of significant changes in the early periods of the Revolution. It abolishes feudalism, gives people the right to hunt on land they own, abolishes most titles of distinction, limits the church’s power to raise money, and removes barriers based on birth to governmental and religious positions. Astute readers will notice that the benefits of the decree would almost entirely accrue to the land-owning bourgeoisie, and there would be little benefit to the peasants and urban poor, who were still suffering in most ways. Although the National Assembly issued this document, it will be important for teachers to note Article 17, stipulating allegiance to the king:

ARTICLE XVII. The National Assembly solemnly proclaims the king, Louis XVI, the Restorer of French Liberty.

The sources featured in this formative performance task are exclusively text based and require students to closely read terms and ideas that could be challenging for even the strongest readers. One possibility is to significantly reduce the three documents to key ideas (as shown earlier) that would answer the supporting question “How did the relationship between the French people and the king change in the early stages of the Revolution?” This strategy would not preclude a teacher from showing the entire source, but it could help students reason with the sources as they practice Chronological Reasoning and Causation.


Additional Resources


If teachers choose to incorporate the additional sources, the cartoon translating into “This time justice is on the side of the fittest,” could be used to corroborate evidence obtained in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen. The two excerpts from The French Revolution: A Political History, volume 1, by François-Alphonse Aulard allow students to understand the great divide within the Third Estate and offer a prelude to the tumultuous journey ahead for all members and factions of France as they experimented with varying forms government.

“This time justice is on the side of the fittest” (translated), French Revolution Digital Archives, Stanford University. http://frda.stanford.edu/en/catalog/bq433tw2982.

François-Alphonse Aulard, The French Revolution: A Political History, vol. 1 (excerpts). https://archive.org/stream/frenchrevolutio02mialgoog#page/n319/mode/1up.


Supporting Question 2

Featured Source A

Source A: National Assembly of France, statement of rights, Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, August 26, 1789

The representatives of the French people, constituted as a National Assembly, and considering that ignorance, neglect, or contempt of the rights of man are the sole causes of public misfortunes and governmental corruption, have resolved to set forth in a solemn declaration the natural, inalienable and sacred rights of man: so that by being constantly present to all the members of the social body this declaration may always remind them of their rights and duties; so that by being liable at every moment to comparison with the aim of any and all political institutions the acts of the legislative and executive powers may be the more fully respected; and so that by being founded henceforward on simple and incontestable principles the demands of the citizens may always tend toward maintaining the constitution and the general welfare.

In consequence, the National Assembly recognizes and declares, in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following rights of man and the citizen:

Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be based only on common utility.

The purpose of all political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.

The principle of all sovereignty rests essentially in the nation. No body and no individual may exercise authority which does not emanate expressly from the nation.

Liberty consists in the ability to do whatever does not harm another; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no other limits than those which assure to other members of society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by the law.

The law only has the right to prohibit those actions which are injurious to society. No hindrance should be put in the way of anything not prohibited by the law, nor may any one be forced to do what the law does not require.

The law is the expression of the general will. All citizens have the right to take part, in person or by their representatives, in its formation. It must be the same for everyone whether it protects or penalizes. All citizens being equal in its eyes are equally admissible to all public dignities, offices, and employments, according to their ability, and with no other distinction than that of their virtues and talents.

No man may be indicted, arrested, or detained except in cases determined by the law and according to the forms which it has prescribed. Those who seek, expedite, execute, or cause to be executed arbitrary orders should be punished; but citizens summoned or seized by virtue of the law should obey instantly, and render themselves guilty by resistance.

Only strictly and obviously necessary punishments may be established by the law, and no one may be punished except by virtue of a law established and promulgated before the time of the offense, and legally applied.

Every man being presumed innocent until judged guilty, if it is deemed indispensable to arrest him, all rigor unnecessary to securing his person should be severely repressed by the law.

No one should be disturbed for his opinions, even in religion, provided that their manifestation does not trouble public order as established by law.

The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may therefore speak, write, and print freely, if he accepts his own responsibility for any abuse of this liberty in the cases set by the law.

The safeguard of the rights of man and the citizen requires public powers. These powers are therefore instituted for the advantage of all, and not for the private benefit of those to whom they are entrusted.

For maintenance of public authority and for expenses of administration, common taxation is indispensable. It should be apportioned equally among all the citizens according to their capacity to pay.

All citizens have the right, by themselves or through their representatives, to have demonstrated to them the necessity of public taxes, to consent to them freely, to follow the use made of the proceeds, and to determine the means of apportionment, assessment, and collection, and the duration of them.

Society has the right to hold accountable every public agent of the administration.

Any society in which the guarantee of rights is not assured or the separation of powers not settled has no constitution.

Property being an inviolable and sacred right, no one may be deprived of it except when public necessity, certified by law, obviously requires it, and on the condition of a just compensation in advance.

From The French Revolution and Human Rights: A Brief Documentary History, translated, edited, and with an introduction by Lynn Hunt. Copyright © 1996. Reprinted by permission of Bedford/St. Martin’s.


Supporting Question 2

Featured Source B

Source B: Olympe de Gouges, statement of rights, Declaration of the Rights of Woman and Citizen (excerpt), September 1791

Mothers, daughters, sisters, female representatives of the nation ask to be constituted as a national assembly. Considering that ignorance, neglect, or contempt for the rights of woman are the sole causes of public misfortunes and governmental corruption, they have resolved to set forth in a solemn declaration the natural, inalienable, and sacred rights of woman: so that by being constantly present to all the members of the social body this declaration may always remind them of their rights and duties; so that by being liable at every moment to comparison with the aim of any and all political institutions the acts of women’s and men’s powers may be the more fully respected; and so that by being founded henceforward on simple and incontestable principles the demands of the citizenesses may always tend toward maintaining the constitution, good morals, and the general welfare. In consequence, the sex that is superior in beauty as in courage, needed in maternal sufferings, recognizes and declares, in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following rights of woman and the citizeness.

  1. Woman is born free and remains equal to man in rights. Social distinctions may be based only on common utility.

The purpose of all political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of woman and man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and especially resistance to oppression.

The principle of all sovereignty rests essentially in the nation, which is but the reuniting of woman and man. No body and no individual may exercise authority which does not emanate expressly from the nation.

Liberty and justice consist in restoring all that belongs to another; hence the exercise of the natural rights of woman has no other limits than those that the perpetual tyranny of man opposes to them; these limits must be reformed according to the laws of nature and reason.

The laws of nature and reason prohibit all actions which are injurious to society. No hindrance should be put in the way of anything not prohibited by these wise and divine laws, nor may anyone be forced to do what they do not require.

The law should be the expression of the general will. All citizenesses and citizens should take part, in person or by their representatives, in its formation. It must be the same for everyone. All citizenesses and citizens, being equal in its eyes, should be equally admissible to all public dignities, offices and employments, according to their ability, and with no other distinction than that of their virtues and talents.

No woman is exempted; she is indicted, arrested, and detained in the cases determined by the law. Women like men obey this rigorous law.

Only strictly and obviously necessary punishments should be established by the law, and no one may be punished except by virtue of a law established and promulgated before the time of the offense, and legally applied to women.

Any woman being declared guilty, all rigor is exercised by the law.

No one should be disturbed for his fundamental opinions; woman has the right to mount the scaffold, so she should have the right equally to mount the rostrum, provided that these manifestations do not trouble public order as established by law.

The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of woman, since this liberty assures the recognition of children by their fathers. Every citizeness may therefore say freely, I am the mother of your child; a barbarous prejudice [against unmarried women having children] should not force her to hide the truth, so long as responsibility is accepted for any abuse of this liberty in cases determined by the law [women are not allowed to lie about the paternity of their children].

The safeguard of the rights of woman and the citizeness requires public powers. These powers are instituted for the advantage of all and not for the private benefit of those to whom they are entrusted.

For maintenance of public authority and for expenses of administration, taxation of women and men is equal; she takes part in all forced labor service, in all painful tasks; she must therefore have the same proportion in the distribution of places, employments, offices, dignities, and in industry.

The citizenesses and citizens have the right, by themselves or through their representatives, to have demonstrated to them the necessity of public taxes. The citizenesses can only agree to them upon admission of an equal division, not only in wealth, but also in the public administration, and to determine the means of apportionment, assessment, and collection, and the duration of the taxes.

The mass of women, joining with men in paying taxes, have the right to hold accountable every public agent of the administration.

Any society in which the guarantee of rights is not assured or the separation of powers not settled has no constitution. The constitution is null and void if the majority of individuals composing the nation has not cooperated in its drafting.

Property belongs to both sexes whether united or separated; it is for each of them an inviolable and sacred right, and no one may be deprived of it as a true patrimony of nature, except when public necessity, certified by law, obviously requires it, and then on condition of a just compensation in advance.



Postscript

Women, wake up; the tocsin of reason sounds throughout the universe; recognize your rights. The powerful empire of nature is no longer surrounded by prejudice, fanaticism, superstition, and lies. The torch of truth has dispersed all the clouds of folly and usurpation. Enslaved man has multiplied his force and needs yours to break his chains. Having become free, he has become unjust toward his companion. Oh women! Women, when will you cease to be blind? What advantages have you gathered in the Revolution? A scorn more marked, a disdain more conspicuous. During the centuries of corruption you only reigned over the weakness of men. Your empire is destroyed; what is left to you then? Firm belief in the injustices of men. The reclaiming of your patrimony founded on the wise decrees of nature; why should you fear such a beautiful enterprise? … Whatever the barriers set up against you, it is in your power to overcome them; you only have to want it. Let us pass now to the appalling account of what you have been in society; and since national education is an issue at this moment, let us see if our wise legislators will think sanely about the education of women….

From The French Revolution and Human Rights: A Brief Documentary History, translated, edited, and with an introduction by Lynn Hunt. Copyright © 1996. Reprinted by permission of Bedford/St. Martin’s.


Supporting Question 2

Featured Source C

Source C: National Assembly of France, statement about the feudal system, Decree Abolishing the Feudal System (excerpt), August 4, 1789

ARTICLE I. The National Assembly hereby completely abolishes the feudal system. It decrees that, among the existing rights and dues, both feudal and censuel, all those originating in or representing real or personal serfdom shall be abolished without indemnification. All other dues are declared redeemable, the terms and mode of redemption to be fixed by the National Assembly. Those of the said dues which are not extinguished by this decree shall continue to be collected until indemnification shall take place.

ARTICLE III. The exclusive right to hunt and to maintain uninclosed warrens is likewise abolished, and every landowner shall have the right to kill, or to have destroyed on his own land, all kinds of game, observing, however, such police regulations as may be established with a view to the safety of the public.

ARTICLE V. Tithes of every description, as well as the dues which have been substituted for them, under whatever denomination they are known or collected (even when compounded for), possessed by secular or regular congregations, by holders of benefices, members of corporations (including the Order of Malta and other religious and military orders), as well as those devoted to the maintenance of churches, those impropriated to lay persons, and those substituted for the portion congrue, are abolished, on condition, however, that some other method be devised to provide for the expenses of divine worship, the support of the officiating clergy, for the assistance of the poor, for repairs and rebuilding of churches and parsonages, and for the maintenance of all institutions, seminaries, schools, academies, asylums, and organizations to which the present funds are devoted. Until such provision shall be made and the former possessors shall enter upon the enjoyment of an income on the new system, the National Assembly decrees that the said tithes shall continue to be collected according to law and in the customary manner.

ARTICLE VIII. The fees of the country priests are abolished, and shall be discontinued so soon as provision shall be made for increasing the minimum salary [portion congrue] of the parish priests and the payment to the curates. A regulation shall be drawn up to determine the status of the priests in the towns.

ARTICLE IX. Pecuniary privileges, personal or real, in the payment of taxes are abolished forever. Taxes shall be collected from all the citizens, and from all property, in the same manner and in the same form. Plans shall be considered by which the taxes shall be paid proportionally by all, even for the last six months of the current year.

ARTICLE XI. All citizens, without distinction of birth, are eligible to any office or dignity, whether ecclesiastical, civil, or military; and no profession shall imply any derogation.

ARTICLE XVII. The National Assembly solemnly proclaims the king, Louis XVI, the Restorer of French Liberty.

Copyright © Hanover Historical Texts Collection. Used by permission of Hanover College, Hanover, IN.




Supporting Question 3

Supporting
Question


How did Robespierre justify the Reign of Terror?

Formative Performance Task

Write a summary of Robespierre’s justification for the Reign of Terror and identify two key details that support his justification.

Featured Source(s)

Source A: Engraving of Robespierre and the guillotine

Source B: Speech by Maximilien Robespierre

Conceptual Understandings

(10.2c) Individuals and groups drew upon principles of the Enlightenment to spread rebellions and call for revolutions in France and the Americas.

Content Specifications

Students will examine evidence related to the preconditions of the French Revolution and the course of the revolution, noting the roles of Olympe de Gouges, Maximilien Robespierre, and Napoleon Bonaparte.

Social Studies Practices

Gathering, Using, and Interpreting Evidence
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