The storming of the Bastille was a catalyst for what became known as the Reign of Terror. “French society underwent an epic transformation as feudal, aristocratic and religious privileges evaporated under a sustained assault from left-wing political groups and the masses on the streets.” How bad was it?
Internally, popular sentiments radicalized the Revolution significantly, culminating in the rise of Maximilien Robespierre and the Jacobins and virtual dictatorship by the Committee of Public Safety during the Reign of Terror from 1793 until 1794 during which between 16,000 and 40,000 people were killed.
Did you get that? Between 16,000 and 40,000 French citizens were killed for a better France. Consider the following:
Ordered by the king [Louis XVI] to surrender, more than 600 Swiss guards were savagely murdered. The mobs ripped them to shreds and mutilated their corpses. “Women, lost to all sense of shame,” said one surviving witness, “were committing the most indecent mutilations on the dead bodies from which they tore pieces of flesh and carried them off in triumph.” Children played kickball with the guards’ heads. Every living thing in the Tuileries [royal palace in Paris] was butchered or thrown from the windows by the hooligans. Women were raped before being hacked to death.
The Jacobin club . . . demanded that the piles of rotting, defiled corpses surrounding the Tuileries be left to putrefy in the street for days afterward as a warning to the people of the power of the extreme left.
This bestial attack, it was later decreed, would be celebrated every year as “the festival of the unity and indivisibility of the republic.” It would be as if families across America delighted in the annual TV special “A Manson Family Christmas.”1
As revolutionary leader Jean-Paul Marat declared, “Let the blood of the traitors flow! That is the only way to save the country.” Sounds like some anti-Trumpers from the Democrat Party.
The storming of the Bastille, now a national holiday in France, led to the deaths of 300,000 people. It is often compared to America’s War for Independence. Festivities and official ceremonies are held all over France. It is also celebrated in Belgium, Hungary, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and in more than 50 cities across the United States.
John Kerry described the French Revolution as democracy in action. Bloody revolutions must be a good thing if they are celebrated with such fervor and delight.
The murdering mobs that attacked the nearly empty Bastille (at the time of the siege there were only seven non-political prisoners confined there) believed their actions were for a better France, similar to what today’s political revolutionaries and Islamic terrorists have in mind.
Today’s Leftist revolutionaries have more in common with the French Revolution than they do with Independence Day and the founding of the United States.
The following 1793 Thanksgiving Proclamation from Josiah Bartlett, signer of the Declaration of Independence, Governor of New Hampshire (1729-1795), will give you some idea what the difference was between the French Revolution and the founding of the United States of America:
Let us entreat the Father of Mercies, to continue us the blessings we now enjoy, and bestow upon us all further needed favors.
That it would please Him still to have these United States under His Holy protection and guidance – that He would inspire those who have the management of all our public affairs with all that wisdom, prudence and integrity that is necessary to the faithful discharge of their important trusts, that all their determinations may tend to promote the real happiness and prosperity of this great and rising Republic, and that all people may be disposed to afflict in carrying such determinations into effect.
That it would please God to over-rule the tumults and confusions among the nations, in such a manner as shall subserve to His own Glory and the best good and happiness of mankind, and that in His own due time, He would calm the angry passions of the contending nations and say to them, peace, be still.
That God would be pleased to look down with an eye of compassion upon the whole human race, and dispel those clouds of ignorance, superstition and bigotry that overspread so great a part of the world, and that the knowledge of and reverential love and regard to the One God and Father, of all, and a true benevolence and good will to their fellow men, may pervade the hearts, and influence the lives of all mankind, and all Nations, Languages and Tongues be brought to join in singing, Glory to God in the highest, on Earth Peace and good will to men.
Like us today, our nation’s founders were not perfect. Wrongs needed to be rectified. As always, this question arises: By what standard? There is no longer a fixed moral standard.
The George Washington High School mural depicts our nation’s history warts and all. The Bible does the same thing. Instead of making us uncomfortable, we should learn from the mistakes and sins of the past.
— Gary DeMar
The following article was written by Dr. Jerry Newcombe.
Could a contrast between the American Revolution and the French Revolution be relevant to today’s conflicts? I think so. The attempt to demote historic icons like George Washington is a case in point.
George Washington grew up as a gentleman farmer in Virginia and was a fourth-generation slave-owner. But by the end of his life, he had decided slavery was immoral and so at his death, he freed his slaves and made provision for them.
But in our day — where the alleged “right to not be offended” often seems to trump the constitutional right to free speech — some are calling for images of George Washington to be torn down, like statues of Confederates.
The dailywire.com reports on how “George Washington High School” in Northern California is contemplating tearing down two 1930’s panels featuring George Washington because the pair of murals allegedly “traumatizes students and community members.”
This is in San Francisco, so the outcome seems likely.
How long will our historical iconoclasm last? The cultural Marxists are working overtime to cut Americans off from our history.
I believe that despite his flaws, including being a slave-owner, there are many heroic aspects of our first president. Dr. Peter Lillback and I wrote, George Washington’s Sacred Fire, which puts all this in context. Recently we discussed Washington and slavery.
Our founders fought the American Revolution, led by Washington, so that we could enjoy our God-given rights. Though slow in coming, recognition of those God-given rights eventually gave the slaves their freedom. What is happening in the culture wars today is a revival of the French Revolution, which waged war against God.
France in 1789 fought against injustice, even in the church; but their godless “cure” ended up being worse than the disease. The French Revolution was anti-God and pro-tyranny — leading to death in the streets. The American Revolution was pro-God and pro-freedom.
America’s founders mentioned God four times in the Declaration of Independence. They identified King George III’s tyranny as illegitimate — because he was violating our God-given rights. The founders, with a firm reliance on the Lord, laid down “their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor” in support for their declaration as a new nation.
When George Washington first read the Declaration to his troops, one of his first acts was to hire Christian chaplain throughout the army. He felt that if they were to win this war, it would only be with God’s help.
And he and the other colonists felt that God did help. To paraphrase Washington in his First Inaugural Address, no people should be more grateful to the Lord than we Americans because God aided us at every step to become an independent nation.
Consider a few further contrasts between the American Revolution and the French Revolution.
Our framers signed the Constitution in “the year of our Lord” 1787. The French Revolutionaries got rid of the Christian calendar, and so they declared 1791 as Year 1 of their new non-Christian calendar.
The French Revolutionaries desecrated Notre Dame Cathedral, disallowing Christian worship there and placed a half-naked woman on the altar, calling her “Reason,” whom they worshiped.
In contrast, our founders hired Christian chaplains for the military and also for the House and Senate. Since there weren’t enough church buildings in Washington, D. C., they held Christian worship services in the Capitol building. Presidents Jefferson and Madison attended those services.
The French Revolution eventually consumed its own. Since then, France has had 17 different governments, while the U.S. still lives under one — the Constitution.
I predict that today’s social justice warriors, who are consuming our past heroes, will one day be consumed by future revolutionaries. Future generations could look back at us and say things like: “You had 4D sonograms documenting the humanity of the unborn and yet you allowed millions of abortions on demand?” or “Science has documented genuine differences between men and women, yet you allowed boys who claimed to be girls to compete and dominate in sports, winning valuable scholarships?”
Every generation has its flaws and blind spots. Our generation has yet to recognize its own.
Slavery was evil. Thank God for those strong Christians who defeated it. Thank God for William Wilberforce’s Christian anti-slavery crusade, which took him about five decades to complete. That crusade inspired abolition here in America. Interestingly, in his day, Wilberforce was sometimes called “the George Washington of Humanity.” Both men worked hard to liberate others.
Slavery has plagued humanity from the beginning of time and can even be found in some places today, places where the gospel of Christ has no sway.
Too bad the children of the French Revolution are rising up today to cut us off from our past heroes. There is a reason Washington continues to be a hero to millions. Enough with the historical revisionism.
Jerry Newcombe, D.Min., is an on-air host/senior producer for D. James Kennedy Ministries. He has written/co-written 31 books, e.g., The Unstoppable Jesus Christ, American Amnesia: Is American Paying the Price for Forgetting God?, What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? (w/ D. James Kennedy) & the bestseller, George Washington’s Sacred Fire (w/ Peter Lillback) djkm.org @newcombejerry www.jerrynewcombe.com
- Ann Coulter, Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America (New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2011), 107. [↩]