(The Irish Citizen, January 7, 1871)
This great war in France is at last taking more definitely its true character – of a struggle between German feudalism and oligarchy on the one side, and French freedom and Republicanism on the other. It is the same old and inevitable contest which has raged in Europe for eighty years. Even under the “Empire,” so-called, France was substantially and really a Republic; that is to say, every Frenchman has been a free and privileged citizen since that grand Revolution. Aristocracy was abolished, and remained, and now remains, abolished in France. The Emperor himself was an elective officer – just as our President of the United States is an elective officer – and the principle of universal suffrage and the practice of plebiscites were enough to mark the character of the grand French community, and make it the foremost champion of human right as against a pretended “Divine right.”
Hereafter we can have no difficulty in defining our position with regard to the war in France. We are either for the rights and privileges of mankind, or else for the feudal pretensions of an insolent monarchy and aristocracy which pretend to ignore and deny all civil rights whatsoever.