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Thomas Jefferson - A Character Sketch
The French Revolution
by Ellis, Edward S. (A.M.)


Mr. Jefferson always believed the cause of the French Revolution to be just. Its horrors and excesses were the necessary evils attendant upon the death of tyranny and the birth of liberty.

Louis the XVI was thoroughly conscientious. At the age of twenty he ascended the throne, and strove to present an example of morality, justice and economy. But he had not firmness of will to support a good minister or to adhere to a good policy.

In the course of events a great demonstration of the French populace was made against the king. Thousands of persons carrying pikes and other weapons marched to the Tuileries. For four hours Louis was mobbed. He then put on a red cap to please his unwelcome visitors, who afterwards retired.

Long after the "Days of Terror" Jefferson wrote in his autobiography:

"The deed which closed the mortal course of these sovereigns (Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette), I shall neither approve nor condemn.

"I am not prepared to say that the first magistrate of a nation cannot commit treason against his country or is not amenable to its punishment. Nor yet, that where there is no written law, no regulated tribunal, there is not a law in our hearts and a power in our hands given for righteous employment in maintaining right and redressing wrong.

"I should have shut the queen up in a convent, putting her where she could do no harm."

Mr. Jefferson then declared that he would have permitted the King to reign, believing that with the restraints thrown around him, he would have made a successful monarch.

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