In France, he arrived to a hero’s welcome in Calais, and as their representative he took his seat at the Convention in Paris on September 19, 1792. Two days later the legislature formally abolished royalty in France. In the two months following, the Convention discussed what to do about their former king, Louis XVI. Paine rose to argue against executing him, saying the new French republic had an opportunity to inspire the world with its noble republican government. On January 15, Paine spoke again to the assembly, reminding them of Robespierre’s address two years earlier condemning capital punishment. He recommended sending the king and family into exile, where they would eventually be forgotten. Two days later the legislature voted narrowly in favor of death. Once again, Paine spoke to condemn this decision. The guillotine, he said, rose “from a spirit of revenge rather than from a spirit of justice.” Paine’s Convention enemies were already shouting their disapproval, but he refused to back down, saying,Share
If after my return to America, I should employ myself in writing the history of the French Revolution, I had rather record a thousand errors on the side of mercy than be obliged to tell one act of severe justice.