Adopted Daughter of the French People

in French Politics, Culture & Society
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In 1797, two brothers brought an unusual case to the French legislature. Their niece, the daughter of the famous martyr of liberty Michel Lepeletier, had been “adopted by the nation” in 1793. Now officially emancipated from her relatives’ tutelage, she wished to marry a debt-ridden young Dutch man. Unable to prevent the marriage through more traditional means, Suzanne Lepeletier’s uncles demanded that the state fulfill its duties as father. They insisted that the legislative assembly oversee the establishment of its adopted daughter, and with her, the fate of its revolutionary patrimony; Suzanne must be stopped from “denationalizing” herself through her planned marriage to a foreigner.

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