Ap European History Dbq Sample Essay 2009 Calendar

A New Republic, A New Calendar

In 1793 the National Convention in Paris created a new calendar for the French republic. The new calendar renamed the months of the Gregorian calendar and rearranged them so that each month contained three weeks of ten days each; at the end of each year there were five days of festivals dedicated to virtue, intelligence, labor, opinion, and rewards. This calendar was kept in place until 1806 when it was abolished by napoleon. The National Convention and other republican groups cited many reasons for the adoption of a new calendar, including ridding the republic of the old regime and implementing a more reasonable system. Although the revolutionaries viewed the calendar as an improvement, others were quick to point out its flaws.

Among the reasons set forth by the National Convention for the adoption of the new calendar was implementing a more reasonable system. The cahier de doléances (report of grievances) stated that fewer holidays would allow for more work to be done, and that the observance of Sunday would become more holy. This report can be viewed as trustworthy because it was written by the third estate at Château- Thierry, who had nothing to gain by writing it. (Doc. 1) The names of the new months were also more reasonable than the old ones; they were named after natural events that occurred during them. (Doc. 4) The new calendar also created a standard measure of time. The National Convention stated that it would bring out new progress in trade and commerce. This, however, may not be completely accurate because it came from the national convention,, and it is likely that they were exaggerating to make the new calendar more appealing to the French people.(Doc. 5)

Another reason for the creation of the new calendar was to rid the republic of the old regime. According to Gilbert Romme, the head of the calendar reform committee, the old calendar tied France to their old monarchy. Romme also believed that France should have a new calendar for it’s new republic. This report may be slightly biased as Romme was the person in charge of creating the new calendar and was thus bound to find reason for it. (Doc.2)

Several groups reacted positively to the new calendar. One such group was the citizens of St. Quirin. In their letter to the National Convention, these peasants stated that the new Décadi allowed them to honor virtue and reason. This group of citizens would probably have been reluctant to show any dislike for the new calendar for fear they would become enemies of the republic. (Doc 6) Another person that viewed the new calendar positively was François-Sebastien Letourneux. Letourneux stated that the industrious citizens were pleased with France’s new calendar because it allowed them more time to work.

Several groups also reacted negatively to the new calendar. Abbé Sieyès expressed the belief that it was unwise to adopt a new calendar because the old one provided connections with neighboring countries. (Doc.3) A peasant from Étampes wrote to the National Convention that nine days of labor and one day of rest was too much work. It is likely that this letter was written in complete honesty because the peasant risked a lot by writing it. (Doc.7) The Girondins were also among those who disliked the new calendar. Pierre- Joseph Dennis, a former Girondin, viewed the new calendar as tyrannical. He saw the adoption of the calendar as an act of complete despotism. (Doc. 8) Napoleon Bonaparte also viewed the new calendar negatively. An article in the Gazette de France showed the Napoleonic views of the new calendar. The article stated that the new Calendar didn’t fix the problems of the old one but created entirely new problems.(Doc. 11) In 1806 Napoleon abolished the new calendar.

In conclusion the National Convention cited many reasons for the adoption of a new calendar. These included implementing a more reasonable system and ridding the republic of the old regime. Although the Convention viewed the calendar as an improvement, others did not. Eventually the new calendar, along with the republic, was destroyed.

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