By K. Steven Vincent
This booklet advances a brand new interpretation of the timing and personality of French (and extra generally ecu) liberalism, and contributes to the continuing debate about the position of morality, sociability, and conceptions of the "self" in glossy liberal concept.
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Extra resources for Benjamin Constant and the Birth of French Liberalism
12 Constant translated his new status into political office. On 30 March 1797, he was elected chairman of the municipal administrative body of Luzarches. There was a temporary complication, when Constant’s election was declared null and void due to the fact that he had not been a resident of Luzarches for a full year. But, on 5 November 1797, a year after his purchase of Hérivaux, Constant succeeded in having himself reinstated as president of the municipal administration of Luzarches. 13 Other, more important political positions eluded his grasp.
95 These early important works mark the emergence of French liberalism. 2 The Emergence of Liberalism (1795–97) Constant and Staël in Paris Staël and Constant returned to Paris together on 25 May 1795, and quickly became embroiled in post-Thermidorian politics. They both supported the Constitution of 1795 and worried about the restoration of the Bourbons, whose leader Provence (the future Louis XVIII) made it clear in his Declaration of Verona (24 June 1795) that a royalist restoration was synonymous with a return to the Old Regime and revenge against republicans associated with the Revolution.
From their first meeting, Constant was dazzled with Germaine’s mind, wit, and enthusiasm. He was immediately infatuated and soon very much in love. Staël, on the other hand, was not swept off her feet, though she was attracted to Constant’s energy, sensibility, and generosity, and found great pleasure in their intellectual exchange. Constant became part of Staël’s entourage, but not her lover, in February 1795 when he moved into a room in her house in Mézery. Distraught that they were not lovers, Constant staged some dramatic scenes, including a threatened/attempted suicide in lateMarch 1795.