CALONNE’S PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF FRANCE’S ENORMOUS NATIONAL DEBT, 1788, LEADING IN PART TO THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
DE CALONNE, Charles Alexandre. Réponse de M. de Calonne a lÉcrit de M. Necker… Contenant l’Examen des Comptes de la Situation des Finances. Londres: T. Spilsbury, 1788. Large, thick quarto, contemporary three-quarter brown speckled calf, green morocco spine label, blind-stamped armorial paper covered boards. $3500.
First edition of this detailed financial record of France’s national debt following the American Revolution, with numerous financial charts (four folding), precipitating the government crisis that led to the French Revolution.
In 1783, Charles Alexandre de Calonne was summoned to replace Jacques Necker as France’s Controller General of Finances after a series of successive ministers had tried in vain to replenish the exhausted royal treasury following the American Revolution. On taking office, Calonne was met with debts of 113 million livres and no apparent means for repayment. In August 1786 he submitted to King Louis XVI a far-reaching plan of reform that included an increase in taxes on the “privileged class,” through a proportional real estate tax. Realizing that the Parlements would certainly reject his proposals, Calonne called a special Assemblée des Notables, to whom he planned to present his plan to reduce the deficit. But the Assembly refused to consider his proposals and criticized him bitterly. So he made the mistake of going public, by publishing this detailed account of the growth of France’s national debt— revealing an annual deficit of more than 100 million livres— and earning him the nickname “Monsieur Défecit.” Calonne’s efforts to reform his nation’s financial and tax structures contributed to a government crisis that eventually led to the French Revolution. Text in French. Kress B.1375. Goldsmiths 13617. Armorial stamp to covers. Occasional small rubber stamp of the Longton Free Library.
Text and charts fine, outer hinges starting, a bit of water spotting to front cover. An about-fine copy.