Mobilization for War (5 July 1792)

Although a small minority in the Legislative Assembly when it convened in September 1791, the Girondins succeeded in passing a resolution in favor of war with "the King of Bohemia and Hungary," meaning the Habsburg Empire in April 1792. Citing the Pillnitz Declaration and Louis’s continued resistance to war to their advantage, throughout the first half of 1791, Jacques–Pierre Brissot and his followers argued that only intransigence held France back from a glorious victory, which would secure and broaden the gains of the Revolution. By July, Louis’s attempts to sabotage the war effort were clear, so the assembly issued the following resolution, declaring the "homeland is in danger." Moreover, it called upon citizens to organize themselves and take up arms in defense of the liberty of the nation against both foreign invaders and internal rebellion. The revolutionary emphasis on unity in defense of the nation is laid on this foundation.


The National Assembly, considering the increased efforts by the enemies of order and the spreading of all manner of unrest in the various parts of the Empire that can put the state at risk at this very moment when the nation is engaged in a foreign war in order to maintain its liberty, and that causes us to doubt the success of our political regeneration;

Convinced that in reserving itself the right to report the danger, it is delaying it for the moment, and bringing peace back into the souls of good citizens;

Imbued with the oath to live free or die, and to maintain the Constitution, and strongly believing in its duties and the wishes of the people for which it exists, decrees that a matter of urgency exists.

The National Assembly, after having heard the report of its Commission of Twelve, and having decreed the matter of urgency, decrees the following:

Article 1. When the internal or external security of the State is threatened, and the legislative body has deemed that extraordinary measures are absolutely required, it shall, by an act of the legislative body, declare as much and in these terms:

Citizens, the homeland is in danger!

2. Immediately upon publishing that declaration, the departmental and district councils shall assemble, and, along with the town councils and communal councils, be on permanent watch. From this time forward, no public servant can leave, or stay away from, his post.

3. All citizens capable of carrying arms, and having already served in the National Guard, will also be on active duty.

4. All citizens shall be called upon to declare, before their respective municipalities, the quantity and type of arms and munitions they own. Refusal to declare, or providing false information, if denounced and proven, shall be punished by the magistrate's police, as follows: for the first offense, imprisonment for a term not less than two months and not greater than one year; and for the second offense, imprisonment for a term not less than one year and not greater than two years.

8. The citizens who shall have received the honor of being the first to march for the security of the threatened homeland shall report within three days to the town in their district. They shall form a company in front of the district's Administrative Commissioner and there they shall receive military lodging and be prepared to march at first orders.

12. In towns that are cantonal seats, national weapons shall be returned to the National Guard who have been chosen for the new volunteer battalions. The National Assembly asks all citizens to voluntarily entrust their weapons for the duration of the threat to those responsible for defending them.

13. Immediately upon publication of this decree, each district's administrative directory shall provide a thousand war-gauge ball cartridges which shall be kept in a safe place so they may be distributed to the volunteers when the board deems it appropriate. The executive branch shall give orders to send the necessary articles to the departments for manufacturing the cartridges.

15. The volunteers may perform their military duties without wearing the national uniform.

16. Any man residing in, or traveling through, France, is required to wear the national cockade.

Accredited ambassadors and officials of foreign powers are exempt from this regulation.

17. Any person wearing an emblem of rebellion shall be taken before the common court and, if found guilty of having deliberately done so, shall be put to death. It is hereby ordered that all citizens arrest or denounce these persons on the spot, or risk being accused of abetment. Any cockade other than the revolutionary cockade is a sign of rebellion.

Source: M. J. Mavidal and M. E. Laurent, eds., Archives parlementaires de 1787 à 1860, première série (1787 à 1799), 2d ed., 82 vols. (Paris: Dupont, 1879–1913), 46:133–34. Translated by Exploring the French Revolution project staff from original documents in French found in J.M. Roberts, French Revolution Documents, vol. 1 (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1966), 487–89.