Maximilien Robespierre was an eminent French politician and lawyer. He was one of the most influential figures associated with the ‘Reign Of Terror’ and the ‘French Revolution’. He served as a member of the ‘Committee of Public Safety’. The writings and thoughts of Jean-Jacques Rousseau greatly influenced Robespierre which developed strong moral values in him. Robespierre advocated the quashing of slavery and also opposed death penalty. He also became the President of the powerful Jacobin political faction. A controversial figure, Robespierre was a capable articulator and his thoughts, words, views and opinions are still quoted broadly. Following is a list of quotes and sayings by Maximilien Robespierre that will give you a glimpse of his political thoughts.
Any law which violates the inalienable rights of man is essentially unjust and tyrannical; it is not a law at all.
Terror is only justice: prompt, severe and inflexible; it is then an emanation of virtue; it is less a distinct principle than a natural consequence of the general principle of democracy, applied to the most pressing wants of the country.
Any institution which does not suppose the people good, and the magistrate corruptible, is evil.
It is with regret that I pronounce the fatal truth: Louis ought to perish rather than a hundred thousand virtuous citizens; Louis must die that the country may live
Peoples do not judge in the same way as courts of law; they do not hand down sentences, they throw thunderbolts; they do not condemn kings, they drop them back into the void; and this justice is worth just as much as that of the courts.
One can...never create [freedom] by an invading force.
We must smother the internal and external enemies of the Republic or perish with it; now in this situation, the first maxim of your policy ought to be to lead the people by reason and the people's enemies by terror.
Citizens, did you want a revolution without revolution?
The most extravagant idea that can be born in the head of a political thinker is to believe that it suffices for people to enter, weapons in hand, among a foreign people and expect to have its laws and constitution embraced. No one loves armed missionaries; the first lesson of nature and prudence is to repulse them as enemies.
Food that is necessary for man’s existence is as sacred as life itself. Everything that is indispensable for its preservation is the common property of society as a whole. It is only the surplus that is private property and can be safely left to individual commercial enterprise.
Smuggle out the truth, pass it through all the obstacles that its enemies fabricate; multiply, spread by all means possible her message so that she may triumph; through zeal and civic action counterbalance the influence of money and the machinations lavished on the propagation of deception. That, in my opinion, is the most useful activity and the most sacred duty of pure patriotism.
It has been said that terror is the principle of despotic government. Does your government therefore resemble despotism? Yes, as the sword that gleams in the hands of the heroes of liberty resembles that with which the henchmen of tyranny are armed ... The government of the revolution is liberty's despotism against tyranny. Is force made only to protect crime
Lf the attribute of popular government in peace is virtue, the attribute of popular government in revolution is at one and the same time virtue and terror, virtue without which terror is fatal, terror without which virtue is impotent. The terror is nothing but justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is thus an emanation of virtue.