The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson

By Subject


No act of violence has taken place in Paris since my last, except on account of the difference between the French and Swiss guards, whih gave rise to occasional single combats, in which ~ or six were killed. The difference is made up. Some misunderstandings had arisen between the committees of the different districts of Paris, as to the form of the future municipal government. These gave uneasiness for awhile, but have been also reconciled. Still there is such a leaven of fermentation remaining in the body of the people, that acts of violence are always possible, and are quite '1npunishable; there being, as yet, no judicature which can venture to act in any case, however small or great. The country is becoming more calm. The embarrassments of the government, for want of money, are extreme. The loan of thirty millions proposed by Mr. Neckar, has not succeeded at all. No taxes are paid. A total stoppage of all payment to the creditors of the State is possible every moment These form a great mass in the city as well as country, and among the lower class of people, too, who have been used to carry their little savings of their service into the public funds upon life rents of five, ten, twenty guineas a year, and many of whom have no other dependence for daily subsistence. A prodigious number of servants are now also thrown out of employ by domestic reforms, rendered necessary by the late events. Add to this, the want of bread, which is extreme. For several days past, a considerable proportion of the people have been without bread altogether; for though the new harvest is begun, there is neither water nor wind to grind the grain. For some days past the people have besieged the doors of the bakers, scrambled with one another for bread, collected in squads all over the city, and need only some slight incident to lead them to excesses which may end in, nobody can tell what. The danger from the want of bread, however, which is the most imminent, will certainty lessen in a few days. What turn that may take which arises from the want of money, is difficult to be foreseen.

to John Jay, 27 August 1789