What dangers do intolerance and the pursuit of ideological purity at the expense of diversity pose to the stability of a civil society?
- Students will analyze the effects of political intolerance in the French Republic.
- Students will contrast the vice of political intolerance to the benefits of diversity of political views resulting from the virtue of respect.
- Launch Activity Teacher’s Notes (Optional) Analyzing Primary Sources (pdf version Ed. 2, © 2017)
- Maximilien Robespierre and Political Intolerance Answer Key
- Declaration of the Rights of Man primary source
- Political Intolerance: Maximilien Robespierre and Political Intolerance Essay
- Discussion Guide: Political Intolerance Essay
- Make Terror the Order of the Day primary source excerpts (Speeches by Maximilien Robespierre and Bertrand Barère)
- Virtue In Action: Maximilien Robespierre and Political Intolerance
- Political Intolerance writing prompt worksheet
- Declaration of Rights of Man
- French Revolution
- Maximilien Robespierre
- Reign of Terror
- National Assembly
- Committee of Public Safety
- King Louis XIV
Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France
William Doyle, The French Revolution: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
William Doyle, The Oxford History of the French Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.
Christopher Hibbert, The Days of the French Revolution. New York: William Morrow, 1999.
Peter McPhee, Robespierre: A Revolutionary Life. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013. RR
Palmer, Twelve who Ruled: The Year of Terror in the French Revolution. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1941.
Simon Schama, Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution. New York: Knopf, 1991.
Ruth Scurr, Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution. New York: Holt, 2007.
Students should be familiar with the Declaration of Independence, especially the paragraph beginning “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” and have copies of it available for reference.
Have students skim the Declaration of the Rights of Man, giving particular attention to the preamble paragraph and Articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11. Conduct a whole-class discussion of the Declaration of the Rights of Man Discussion Guide questions. The goal of this activity is not to go into depth in comparing the U.S. Declaration of Independence to the Declaration of the Rights of Man, but just to help students become familiar with the stated goals of the French Revolution.
- Prior to class time, Students read Political Intolerance: Maximilien Robespierre and Political Intolerance Essay. During class, have students talk through the essay Discussion Guide questions 1, 2, and 3 in pairs. Conduct a whole-class discussion of questions 4, 5, and 6.
- Introduce the Make Terror the Order of the Day background paragraph and have students return to their pairs to read the selections from Robespierre and Barère’s addresses to the National Convention from September 5, 1793, as well as the selections from the Law of Suspects, and talk through the Critical Reading questions that follow. Instruct students to select the two Critical Reading questions they think are most helpful in order to understand the dangers of political intolerance. After they have worked through the documents, take a quick poll of the questions they think are most useful.
Wrap up with a class discussion of the top 2 or 3 questions, zeroing in on the benefits of political diversity and how to protect it. (See Answer Key for guide)
Write an essay on Political Intolerance
- Why is it important in a free society to allow for a diversity of political views?
- What is the danger of one side shutting out its opponents with the force of law?
- How can citizens ensure that public discussions are open and civil?
- What challenges arise in having a variety of opinions to have voice?
- Why is political tolerance important to maintain in spite of these challenges?
“Virtue In Action” Activities
- Create flyers (or posters) from the Virtue in Action to create civil discourse in the classroom.
- Summarize the quotes from Star Wars and from Mr. Smith goes to Washington. Discuss which quote relate most to this lesson. Create flyers to post from these quotes or create others from books or films on this subject.
- Publish essay writing in school newspaper or send a Letter to the Editor of a local newspaper.
- Create a video on Flipgrid with a favorite quote.
Declaration of Independence (1776)
On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee brought what came to be called the Lee Resolution before the Continental Congress. This resolution stated “these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states ...” Congress debated independence for several days.
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1835
Use this primary source text to explore key historical events.
The Global Impact of the American Revolution DBQ
This Lesson can be used at the beginning of Chapter 4 to reinforce and review the key events of the American Revolution covered in Chapter 3. This activity will also introduce students to the effects the Revolution had on the world stage in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Jonathan Den Hartog: The American Revolution & Republicanism | BRI Scholar Talks
In this week's Scholar Talk, BRI Senior Teaching Fellow Tony Williams sits down with Jonathan Den Hartog. In vivid detail, Den Hartog describes the republican ideals that influenced the American Revolution and Founding. He'll explain how the concept of republicanism helped shape American thinking about constitutional principles and civic virtues in framing the nation. What were the political and economic problems that arose after the Revolution, and how did the Federalists and Anti-Federalists strive to address them?