Abstract

This article presents a rereading of the largest and most notorious tax revolt of the French Revolution: the attacks on the customs wall in Paris, July 11–14, 1789. It also explores the subsequent trial of those arrested and the celebrations that took place on May 1, 1791, to mark the end of indirect taxation on consumer goods. It argues that the popular classes of Paris were politicized by their actions against consumption taxes during 1789–91. Wine was central to this campaign, as it became an object of protest and a symbol of liberty. Historians have shied away from examining these events, perhaps because of the influence of Hippolyte Taine's characterization of the inebriated, deranged crowd, but this movement against taxes on wine was essential to Parisian popular engagement with the Revolution in its early years.

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