Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-cd4964975-96cn4 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-04-02T08:15:56.788Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

15 - Rebellion, revolution, reform: the transit of the intellectuals

from Part III - Histories: Writing in the New Movements

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 May 2009

Get access


In late 1788 Louis XVI called the Estates General to meet in response to increasing agitation for reform. On 8 January 1789 Thomas Jefferson, observing the heightened political tensions, described the events and gave his benign opinion of their expected outcome: ‘from the natural progress of things [the French] must press forward to the establishment of a constitution which shall assure to them a good degree of liberty’. The author of the American Declaration of Independence suggests as well in the same letter from Paris that the American events of 1775–83 had provided the energy for this ‘illumination of the public mind as to the rights of the nation’: ‘Tho’ celebrated writers of this and other countries had already sketched good principles on the subject of government, yet the American war seems first to have awakened the thinking part of this nation in general from the sleep of despotism.’ The American War had also, though Jefferson didn’t state it, been a major source of the ongoing financial crisis of the French state. Jefferson’s letter was addressed to the distinguished London Dissenting Minister, Richard Price, an intellectual colleague in the culture of Enlightenment liberality. On 4 November 1789, Price delivered a sermon to the London Revolution Society to mark the centenary of the 1688 ‘Glorious Revolution’, in which he claimed the kinship of parliamentary sovereignty between the 1688 Settlement and the recent occurrences in both America and France: ‘After sharing in the benefits of One Revolution, I have been spared to be a witness to two other Revolutions, both glorious.’

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Adams, William Howard, The Paris Years of Thomas Jefferson, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997.
Bailyn, Bernard, Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1967.
Barbauld, Anna, Address to the Opposers of the Repeal, London: Johnson, 1790.
Barrell, John, Imagining the King’s Death: Figurative Treason, Fantasies of Regicide, 1793–1796, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Blake, William, Complete Writings, ed. Keynes, Geoffrey, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972.
Clare, John, Selected Letters, ed. Storey, Mark, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.
Dunn, Susan, Sister Revolutions: French Lightning, American Light, London: Faber & Faber, 1999.
Ellis, Joseph J., American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, New York: Knopf, 1997.
Erdman, David, Commerce des Lumières: John Oswald and the British in Paris, 1790–1793, Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1986.
Fliegelman, Jay, Prodigals and Pilgrims: The Revolt against Patriarchal Authority, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982.
Goodwin, Albert, The Friends of Liberty: The English Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1977.
Jefferson, Thomas, Jefferson Abroad, ed. Wilson, Douglas L. and Stanton, Lucia, New York: Random House, 1999.
Keane, John, Tom Paine: A Political Life, London: Bloomsbury, 1995.
Lefebvre, Georges, The French Revolution, London: Routledge, 2001.
Linebaugh, Peter, and Rediker, Marcus, The Many-Headed Hydra: The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic, London: Verso, 2000.
Paine, Thomas, ‘The Rights of Man’, in The Complete Writings, ed. Foner, Philip S., 2 vols. (New York: The Citadel Press, 1969), vol. I.Google Scholar
Paine, Thomas, The Writings, ed. Daniel Conway, Moncure, 4 vols., New York: Putnam’s, 1908.
Price, Richard, A Discourse on the Love of our Country, etc., London: Cadell, 1789.
Robinson, Mary, Poetical Works, 3 vols., London: 1806.
Schama, Simon, Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution, New York: Viking, 1989.
Taylor, Charles, Sources of the Self (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989)
Todd, Janet, Mary Wollstonecraft: A Revolutionary Life, London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2000.
Walpole, , Horace, Letters, ed. Toynbee, Padgett, 19 vols., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1925.
Williams, Helen Maria, A Farewell, for Two Years, to England, London: Cadell, 1791.
Williams, Helen Maria, Julia, 2 vols., London, 1790.
Williams, Helen Maria, Letters from France, 2 vols., Dublin: Chambers, 1794; photoreprint of 5th edn, 1796, published Demar, NY: Scholars’ Facsimiles and Reprints, 1975.
Williams, Helen Maria, Letters Containing a Sketch of the Politics of France, London: G. G. and J. Robinson, 1795–6; photoreprint Demar, NY: Scholars’ Facsimiles and Reprints, 1975.
Williams, Helen Maria (ed.), The Political and Confidential Correspondence of Lewis the Sixteenth; with Observations on Each Letter, 3 vols., London: C. G. Robinson, 1803.
Wollstonecraft, Mary, Collected Letters, ed. Wardle, Ralph, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1979.
Wollstonecraft, Mary, Political Writings, ed. Todd, Janet, London: Pickering, 1993.
Wollstonecraft, Mary, Vindication of the Rights of Woman, London, 1792.

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats