1793 Decree of the National Convention of France Addressing Emigres of the French Revolution

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On offer is a superb document issued two days following the creation of the notorious Committee of Public Safety which deliberately created the Reign of Terror following the French Revolution.

The Decree was published on April 8th, 1793, two days following the creation of the infamous Committee of Public Safety. It deals with the seizure of property, specifically mills and factories, that were owned by emigres, those French aristocrats who had fled France following the Revolution. This emigration created several problems for the Revolutionary government. There now existed outside of France and within the borders of her enemies, a very motivated group who were dedicated to the overthrow of the Revolution. Also, among other assets, the mills and factories that they owned were now idle, contributing to lost food production and jobs.

The National Convention ordered that all emigres return to France. Failure to do so would result in being permanently barred from ever re-entering the country and all of their assets would be forfeited to the government. This Decree addresses this. An excerpt from the decree follows: 

Relatif à la vente des Moulins et Usines appartement a la Nation, ou provenus des Emigres

[Translation: Relative to the sale of the Mills and Factories owned by the Nation, or originating from the Emigrants]

The Decree follows a report from the Committees of Agriculture and Food. Further excerpts from the document follow:

Les moulins et usines appartement a la nation ou provenus des emigres, qui sont places sur des rivieres ou cours d'eau, ne pourront etre vendus qu'apres qu'il aura ete verifie que leur conservation ne cause aucun dommage aux proprietes environnantes et que leur destruction ne deviendra pas necessaire aux dessechement des marais.

[Translation: The mills and factories belonging to the nation or originating from the emigrants, which are located on rivers or watercourses, can only be sold after it has been verified that their preservation does not cause any damage to the surrounding properties and that their destruction will not become necessary for the draining of the marshes.]

... Apres ce rapport, le directoire du department, sur l'avis de celui du district, ordonnera la vente desdits objets ou il y fera surseoir, si le cas l'exige.

[Translation: ... After this report, the director of the department, on the advice of that of the district, will order the sale of the aforementioned objects or will have it postponed, if the case requires it.]

The manuscript is signed by Louis-Jérôme Gohier, the President of the Executive Council and Minister of Justice. When Napoleon became dictator, Gohiet served in his government as Consul-General in Amsterdam. He was offered a similar position in the United States but was too ill to take up the position.

For a historian or a collector of material from the earliest days of the French Revolution, this is a superb item, documenting the earliest efforts of the French people to establish a republican government, separate from the monarchy and the feudal system that had ruled France for a millennium. For a person involved in the financial or economic world, it is a wonderful piece of evidence of what can happen to a society where economic realities are cast aside

This double-sided, single sheet document measures 8.75 inches by 7.0 inches. It has been separated from a larger bound volume and the thread holes are visible. There is some staining from dampness and from age. Otherwise, it is in very good condition.

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