Marat’s Impeachment

A leading voice on behalf of greater popular participation and for social policies that would benefit the poor, the journalist Jean–Paul Marat used his radical newspaper The Friend of the People to criticize moderation. On 12 April 1793, the Girondins introduced into the Convention a measure condemning him, but the Jacobins, led by Georges Danton, defended him and used the occasion to portray the Girondins as enemies of liberty and the Republic. In the excerpt below, we see the Girondin view of the matter.


Marat's Impeachment and Triumph

The crime absolved and crowned, the audacious offender of every law is carried in triumph through the very sanctuary of the law, a respectable sanctuary soiled by the collection of impure drunken men and women of ill-fame . . . a worthy procession for the triumphant Marat. These are the events of the day, a day of mourning for all virtuous men and for all the friends of liberty!

. . . It isn't worth discussing Marat's indictment seriously. They were in a hurry to finish the matter so they finished by acquitting him. This was followed by much cheering, loud applause, and a civic crowning of Marat. Two municipal officers wearing sashes grabbed hold of him and led him into the streets. He was followed by a large band of fervent admirers who proclaimed him to be "The father of the People." He was taken to the Convention where Danton prevented Lasource from closing the session. The procession entered the hall and took over the seats of a large number of deputies who had withdrawn. Marat was carried to the podium and delivered a half-modest, half-triumphant speech. Danton says that all this amounted to a good day and everyone left.

Source: Le Patriote français, no. 1351 (April 1793), 461–2.