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Directors, the assurance of my respect for you, and my most zealous wishes for the happiness and prosperity of the French Republic.
Answer of the President of the Directory.
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WITH a fincere and ardent affection, the French nation will always renew those ties which are to unite her to powers, whom odious intrigues, or erroneous views of their interest, may have detached from her at different periods. The French Republic is, doubtless, too powerful to fear the number of its enemies, whomsoever they may be. It is also too generous, too candid, and cherishes humanity too highly, not to endeavour to live in peace with all the neighbouring states, and not to be desirous of reckoning them among the number of their friends. The Landgrave of Helle Caffel is one of those whom the Executive Directory is happy to consider as a friend. His fidelity has been hitherto manifested in a manner which does him infinite honour; and will secure to him the goodwill of the Republic. We may rely upon that good will, as well as all those who have pursued the same line of conduct. The Executive Directory, regulated by the genius of a free people, cannot have recourse to the evasions of a dark and crooked policy. To the contrivances of their enemies they oppose a conduct perfectly open, and for the attachment of their friends, they return a sincere and unchangeable affection. May all governments, for the repose of the world, and the happiness of mankind, speedily abjure their ancient maxims, and finally adopt similar principles. Minister plenipotentiary, the Executive Directory hears, with real sensibility, the testimonies of attachment towards France and her government, which you have made in the name of the Landgrave of Helle Gaffel, they invite to transmit to the Landgrave their sentiments of gratitude, and to assure him, that nothing on the part of the French Republic shall ever disturb a harmony so advantageous. The Directory also owes to you particular acknowledgments for the regard and the wishes you have expressed for the prosperity of our Republic. We are assured, that during your residence here, a mutual confidence will prevail amongst us, which will at all times serve to promote the happiness of both countries, as well as your own fatisfaction. Such is the most sincere desire of the Executive Directory of the French Republic.
Report Report on the Finances, presented to the Council of Five Hundred, on
- the 14th July, 1796. THE laws of the 28th Ventose and 6th Floreal last; by seeking
to redeem mandats, with the whole of the national property, have deprived the bills payable to bearer, arising from the restitution of confiscated property, the destination given them by the law of the 21st Prairial, third year, for the acquisition of the property of emigrants. The bearers of these bills, who are at the same time debtors to the Republic, demand the privilege of paying off their debts by means of the credit resulting from these famne bills. Your intention, citizens legislators, has not been to render these titles of legitimate credit void in their hands, whilst they are compelled to pay their own debts to the nation. A compensation so just in itself, cannot but be advantageous to the Republic, since it will operate to the extinction of part of the national debt; nevertheless, it may be necessary to pay some attention to the difference in value between their representative amount of assignats, and the fame unfixed value, to the acquittal. of which they may be applied...
It is for your wisdoın to determine the new destination of this property and its real value; and we cannot but express our desire that you will take the object of this message into consideration.
The Executive Directory spares no pains by this message, in enforcing the justice and the necessity of permitting the holders of bills the privilege of paying their debts with that property.
In the second place, the minister of finance, in his relative situation with the committee, has made it evident that he was not only of the same opinion, but that he thought it would be more convenient to admit the direct creditors of the Republic, for sums disposed of by ministers since the 5th Brumaire, and who had. obtained national domains, to balance their accounts within the period appointed for the payment of the first fixth part of the last quarter, which they easily might do; and for that purpose to have the liberty of paying as cash, frank for frank, and to offer the warrants of ministers, of which they might be the holders, for the purpose of entirely balancing the account for which they were given in payment,
This method, he adds, appears to me proper to render justice to the parties interested, and to relieve the public treasury.
He explains himself in the same manner in his public audiences, and in his anfwers to those who daily came to hasten the committee in making its report to the council.
The 30th Fructidor, one of our colleagues came to this tribune to desire of you, “ that interpreting the law of 28 Ventose, the council fould declare, that it was no obstacle to the full and
complete cxecution of that of the 21st Prairial, of the 3d year, and that conseqnently the bills furnished, and to be furnished 10 the heirs of condemned persons, should be received in payment of national estates of emigrants fold, or to be sold.
lle called for the act of jultice, as being of such a nature, that it appeared to him impothble that any one could offer a wellfounded objection to it. It was necessary, he said, cither to declare frankly that the aniount of the sales of property of con. demned persons fhould cither be employed for the benefit of the Republic, or that real, entire, and effectual justice should be rendered to their heirs. In viewing the first, as contrary to those principles of humanity and juflice by which the council was aciuated, he made no doubt but the second would be adopted.
He even added, that the interest of the nation demanded it; that the prodigious quantily of the property of emigrants, which are neither fuld nor bargained for, are lellened in value, in confequence of bad management, and in a manner scarce produce any thing for the public treasure. Give them, he said, in pay. ment to those creditors who, on many accounts, deserve to be considered; for whom I here call upon your justice, and you will foon see this fame property doubly advantageous to the public, by the fertility it will resume, and the contributions to which it will b: subject.
The council referred this motion to the committee of finances, to make a report on the saine.
A number of petitions came every day to the committee from different parts of the Republic. People could not imagine how it was 'pollible to refuse receiving money, the same as mandats, according to the rate of exchange, in payment for the lait quarter of the price of the national domains; and more particularly in the departments of the west, they asked how, with an army without pay, in want of inoney, and in the midst of various other wants, impollible to procure without money, it thould be sofuled, and particularly wlieni in consequence of that refusal the purchafirs were obliged to renounce their purchases, or to buy mandats at four livres, and four livres and ten fols, to pay into the public trealure, where they were only received at the raic of two livres and fitteen sois. The discontent has increaled, com
plaints are made in all parts, and with so much the more vio. ·lence, inafinuch as they are perfuaded that the government will not
gain any thing, that the purchaters will be ruinod, and Atockjobbers alone derive any advantage.
In the mean time, however presling circumstances were, the committee of finances, unwilling to hazard any thing, postponed troin day to day the desired report; at last the period appointed for the purchasers to save their deposits arrived, and the cominittce could delay no longer. They drew up a plan, and
the second complementary day communicated it to the Executive Directory, requesting, at the same time, its observations and ideas upon the subject. The committee waited for an answer, until the 4th Vendemiaire, a delay which was fatal in the department of the Seine; it could no longer defer its report. I presented it to you, and the very fame evening the Directory received the answer of the committee.
It is easy for you to form an idea what powerful motives the committee had to induce it to present its plan to you. The Directory by its meilage urged it; the minilter announced it as a measure commanded by juítice and interest; the public violently called for it, and a longer delay on the part of the committee would have exposed it to deferved reproach.
The object proposed is not difficult. It has sought to second the views of justice, contained in the message of the Executive Directory of the 24th Thermidor, and in the motion of order of our colleagues. It endeavoured to promote the convenience of purchasers as much as the public interest would permit, and to give them every support.
Represent to yourself a citizen of good faith, who, having received a payment in mandats of a nominal value, is desirous of purchasing national domains, and who, deceived in his expectations, finds himself obligated to submit to the loss occasioned by the discredit of mandats, and conítrained to pay the last quarter
in money, or in mandats, according to the course of exchange. 1. Would you not regret that the law of the 13th Thermidor makes
no exception in his favour? But if, on the one hand, you see this honeft citizen, under the absolute necessity of procuring specie in order to discharge his fourth payment, presenting himself at the office appointed to receive the same; there meeting with a denial, and under the necessity of applying to a stock-jobber, who would demand a considerable sum to furnish him with mandats for the purpose of making good his payment. Could you be insenlble to the distress of this honest citizen, and could you leave him any longer in the cruel alternative, of either abandoning his purchase, or of making a more considerable' sacrifice than that prescribed by the law?
The council is well satisfied that there are no means more eligible to revive confidence, and attach every citizen to the governinent, than to indemnify them against every obstacle which is not actually necessary to the public intereft, and to render them every aslistance which may tend to conciliate them . to the government. It cannot be contended but that it is the interest of the public to encourage purchasers to adhere to what they have purchased; and that if the public intereft renders it necessary to infiit upon the last payment being inade according
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to the real value, that at least they should be permitted to make their payments in money.
On the other hand, if the council considers the unfortunate fituarion he is placed in, who has seen his property fold, though in fact he may have committed no other crime than that of hav. ing been a courageous friend of liberty, or of having by his talents, his virtues, or his fortune, given offence to tyrants. If it considers that the laws which justified the sale of fuch a man's estate, at the same time are desirous that he should receive an equivalent, by authorising the employment of bills for the acquisition ot national domains, it cannot be surprising that the holders of these bills thould be eager to make purchases, and if, after having exhausted that property, they should be compelled to pay ihe three first quarters in mandats, they will be reduced to despair, and to the cruel necessity of abandoning their purchases, if we refuse to receive property in payment of the last quarter, for which a real value is demanded. 1 Citizens who are holders of mortgage titles, and who have lieus upon estates that are sold, are not in a more favourable situation. Depicture a citizen, who in 1788, or prior to that period, had sold an estate for 100,000 livres, and who had only received one-half of the purchase-money when the grantee emigrated. This estate would, of course, be comprised among the national domains, in consequence of his emigration ; yet it is nevertheless the security of the vender, who may have repurchased it, under the idea that government would admit part, if not the whole of his lieu upon the estate, as payment for so much as it might amount to, and if this justice is denied him, he is reduced to the necessity of abandoning his purchase, or of losing what he 'may have paid as a deposit.
In short, however small may be the favours which occupiers of estates may receive, because some of them by their prodigality justify the charges of dilapidation brought against them, they are itill entitled to your justice, and we ought not to refuse those who have confiderable sums of money the liberty of complaining against measures which are likely to involve for forfeitures for default of payment of sums of money, when, at the same time, they cannot receive what is due to them.
By adopting the plan submitted to you by your committee, you will obviate all those causes of forteilure, and you ought not to tose fight how fatal they must be, since in effect they oblige the public treasury to make restitutions, which are far from satisfying those to whom they are made, inasmuch as they are not equivalent to what they may have been deprived of; circumstances which cannot fail of multiplying discontent, and of contributing to the discredit of mandats.