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    George Washington and Thomas Paine are granted French citizenship

    [George Washington and Thomas Paine] French Circular stating that French citizenship had been granted to George Washington, Thomas Paine, and others. Three pages, 7" x 9.75", August 26, 1792. This circular notified the French public that in "the fourth year of freedom," the French National Assembly voted to confer French citizenship on seventeen men.

    Included with this rare circular is a copy of a typed letter dated June 1979 requesting that the owner of this circular provide bibliographical information on it to Professor Durand Echeverria for his upcoming bibliography of French books since "he can find no other copy of the law conferring citizenship on George Washington." This letter further states that "The existence of the law is well known. Gilbert Chinard published a copy of it from a newspaper as an addition to his edition of Billardon de Sauvigny's Vashington; Ou, La liberté du Nouveau monde, Princeton, 1941."

    The motion for citizenship was put forward by Marguerite-Elie Guadet, a leader of the Girondists who was beheaded two years later at the guillotine, in part for his criticisms of Maximilien Robespierre and Jean-Paul Marat. The opening paragraph of this rare circular reads as translated, "The National Assembly, considering that men, through their writings and by their courage, have served the cause of freedom, and prepared the emancipation of peoples, can not be regarded as a foreign nation that his courage & lights have made free." The final paragraph "Declares the title of citizen be granted to Dr. Joseph Priestly, Thomas Payne, Jeremy Bentham, William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson, Jacques Mackintosh, David Williams, N. Gorani, Anacharsis Cloots, Corneille Pauw, Joachim-Henri Campe, N. Pestalozzi, George Washington, John Hamilton, N. Maddison, H. Klopstock, & Thaddeus Kosinsko."

    Washington, who didn't speak French, presciently believed early on that the French Revolution would veer off-course into excess. Paine, an ardent supporter of the French Revolution, could not speak French either, but, along with Clootz and Williams, was selected as part of the new National Convention tasked with writing another new constitution for the French people. Paine voted against the execution of King Louis XVI, but in favor of the French republic. Printer information for the circular is in the lower margin of page three and reads, "A PAU, chez DAUMON, Imprimeur National du Departement des Basses-Pyrenees." The circular is toned; no separations along the fold.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2011
    13th-14th Tuesday-Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,403

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