Republican Institutions
Saint-Just, A French Radical
Chapter 25


I challenge you to establish liberty so long as it remains possible to arouse the unfortunate classes against the new order of things, and I defy you to do away with poverty altogether unless each one has his own land. . . .Where you find large landowners you find many poor people. Nothing can be done in a country where agriculture is carried on a large scale. Man was not made for the workshop, the hospital, or the poorhouse. All that is horrible. Men must live in independence, each with his own wife and his robust and healthy children. We must have neither rich nor poor.

The poor man is superior to government and the powers of the world; he should address them as a master. We must have a system which puts all these principles in practice and assures comfort to the entire people. Opulence is a crime: it consists in supporting fewer children, whether one's own or adopted, than one has thousands of francs of income. . . .

Children shall belong to their mother, provided she has suckled them herself, until they are five years old; after that they shall belong to the republic until death. The mother who does not suckle her children ceases to be a mother in the eyes of the country. Child and citizen belong to the country, and a common instruction is essential. Children shall be brought up in the love of silence and scorn for fine talkers. They shall be trained in laconic speech. Games shall be prohibited in which they declaim, and they shall be habituated to simple truth

The boys shall be educated, from the age of five to sixteen, by the country, from five to ten they shall learn to read, write, and swim. No one shall strike or caress a child. They shall be taught what is good and left to nature. He who strikes a child shall be banished. The children shall eat together and shall live on roots, fruit, vegetables, milk, cheese, bread, and water. The teachers of children from five to ten years old shall not be less than sixty years of age. . . . The education of children from ten to sixteen shall be military and agricultural.

Every year on the first day of Floréal the people of each commune shall select, from among the inhabitants of the commune, and in the temple, a young man rich and virtuous and without deformity, at least twenty-one years of age and not over thirty, who shall in turn select and marry a poor maiden, in everlasting memory of human equality.

From J.H.Robinson, Readings in European History, Vol. II, New York: Ginn and Company, 1906, pp. 452-54. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

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