The French Revolution - by Graciano Lopez-Jaena

by Graciano Lopez-Jaena, a Filipino propagandist during the Spanish occupation of the Philippines, 19th century

(This article was published in La Solidaridad, May 15, 1889. It was written in commemoration of the French Revolution.)

One hundred years ago, an event that occured in France shook the world. Let us salute, as good democrats, that grand French Revolution and its immortal Assembly which changed the face of the world and the history of the centuries.

Without it, without that Revolution, humanity as a whole would be lying in the most stinking obscurantism, dominated by the ironhand of the ancient, tyrannical institutions. Without it, we would not be enjoying the conquest of science, especially physical and chemical, which have given a downright lie to the stern assertion that certain truths were revealed.

It was astonishing how that Assembly in spite of violent tempests and the severe attacks hurled against it by the corrupt aristocracy, with the support of the depraved clergy, succeeded to wrest from the head of the king the crown which a jundred generations had venerated. It gives us pleasure to recall the violent fulmination of the great Mirabeau against class privileges and the absurd belief that the aristocracy and the king must always be the masters and the people, slaves. It gives us joy to recall that solemn session of 5 May during which the principles of sovereignty of the people was sanctioned, that principle which has been so often mocked and scorned.

These recollections constitute a living reminder to fervent democrats who are still enslaved by governments that try to keep them in perennial slavery, ignoring the irresistible influence of the redeeming ideas that emerged from that Assembly and which are stirring in the minds and beatings in the hearts of the people.

Today, every redeemed people recall the immortal names of Mirabeau and Vergniaud, and I in my gratitude I cannot do less than render them a homage of adoration.

Thus the French people whose great heart never gets discouraged nor weakens in the face of vissitudes in the course of a century, incarnating in the spirit, not to say, deifying consubstantially those beautiful ideas and those sublime sentiments of liberty, equality, and fraternity, preached, propagated, defended and proclaimed by these "ball players", not to say, revolutionaries of 1789, now render just tribute to the immortal Assembly, which afterward was converted into the Convention, and their immortal heroes with a marvelous Universal Exposition*, never before seen in the world, regardless of some crowned heads who refuse to attend it as they are not in favor of the lofty ideals of the Republican France.

The Universal Exposition which today will be inaugurated in "the brain of the world", as the great French poet of this century, Victor Hugo, has beautifully said, is a voice that cries out, "In commemoration of your Assembly of 1789, of your great Revolution which proclaimed the Rights of Man, the conquests of science, the progress of humankind, which is endless, are now exhibited for all the world to see and consider."

As democrats we conclude by saluting the French people and adoring their great Assembly and their immortal Revolution.

* The site of the Universal Exposition was the Champ-de-Mars, Paris, one of its marvels being the Eiffel Tower, 200 meters high, then the tallest structure in the world. Its builder was French engineer, Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923).

(From the book "Graciano Lopez-Jaena: Speeches, Articles and Letters", pp. 223-224, by the National Historical Institute, Manila, 1994.)

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