Welcome Delegates

Topic 2: Bringing About Change

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Topic 2: Bringing About Change

The members of the newly formed National Assembly have three primary goals to be accomplished in the near future: writing of a Constitution, economic restructuring and social reform. The first, which was explicitly stated in the Tennis Coart Oath, was to form a constitution. This constitution may be used to establish changes in the economic and governmental structure of the nation that the people have been seeking for so long.

The monarchical control of France’s political and economic system dates back to the 15th century and the system of absolute monarchy was established in the 16th century. Most of Europe’s nations at this time are run by monarchial system; however, the world has recently seen the ability of mere citizens to rebel and institute a democracy in the American Revolution. France was a strong ally of these rebels, the citizens of the colonies, during the war and their support was key in ensuring the establishment of a free nation separate from Great Britain. The Americans have been a great source inspiration for the French to work towards escape from the strict governance of a monarchy.

Involvement in the American Revolution well as the Seven Year’s War, took a major economic toll on the French. The King attempted to recover the lost money by increases taxes on the people, but this caused discontent. The citizens of the Troisième État were most dissatisfied with this as they were required to pay the highest taxes, while the nobles and clergy of the Premier and Deuxième États were often excluded from taxes. Only going deeper into debt, King Louis appointed Jacques Necker, and after he failed, Charles de Calonne, as financial advisors who he hoped would provide solutions for the financial crisis. When neither man was able to do so King Louis turned to the États-Générals. Land ownership and tax obligations have been very disproportionately spread among the classes and bettering conditions for the middle and lower class is a top priority for the Assembly.

As was previously mentioned, a vast majority of revolutionaries have been killed by their respective government for their actions. The best way to avoid this catastrophe is for the National Assembly to maintain the support of the commoners. With all of the starvation and economic unbalance, King Louis XVI does not want to give the populous another reason to dislike him. Once the people support the National Assembly, the pressure from the monarchy will diminish. What will in turn happen is that the monarchy will receive more pressure from the people to reach an agreement with the National Assembly. Thus it is imperative that the Assembly win over the people of France in order to have enough power to reform the government.

Radical thoughts have been spreading about France, with the possibility of revolution becoming quite real. The National Assembly must decide whether to attempt negotiations with the King or resort to rebellion. If the latter is the course of action decided upon, then armed forces will most likely be necessary to combat the King’s army and the Assembly may consider forming alliances with other nations or groups. Turning to the newly independent Americans is a possibility, however, they are themselves still attempting to organize and stabilize their nation. It is important to bear in mind that the Ancien Regime may easily find allies in the British and other monarchial European countries hoping to rid the world of radical notions that would threaten their control.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Is the best way to incite change to attempt negotiation with the King or are drastic measures necessary?

  2. Should the monarchy be completely eliminated or simply repressed, and how can the National Assembly ensure that the citizens of the Third Estate are appropriately represented in the future?

  3. The root of the issue currently being faced is the financial crisis; how can the government escape from debt without burdening the people with taxes?

  4. If the path of revolution is chosen, then how will the National Assembly and the citizens of France combat the government? If offensive measures are to be used, from where will they get the manpower and weapons needed to engage in successful rebellion?

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