Helen Williams was a foreigner living in Paris in 1793. She sympathized with those who wanted France to form a republic. She was arrested because her views differed from the views of those in power.
. . . After two months in our new prison, we were released. A young Frenchman, who has since married my sister, managed to get us released by haunting all the officials he could find and finally by begging the release from Chaumette, the procurer of the Paris Commune, and a tyrant. So we were free but were watched. We could see very few people and went out little, and yet it was a sort of liberty. We feared to go out, in case, without realizing it, we committed some transgression [offense] that would lead to being arrested again. We hardly spoke to anyone, for there were spies everywhere, and we jumped at each knock at the door, fearing arrest. For the prisons were growing more crowded daily, and more and more were going to the scaffold as the Reign of Terror tightened its hold. “Suspicion” was now a warrant for imprisonment, and conspiracy and murder were in the air. One man was arrested because he “looked” noble, another because a total stranger swore that he supported monarchy. Some were arrested for having been rich, others for being clever. Many who were arrested asked for the reason in vain. And the numbers of executions rose, and the horrors increased, and the stories of both courage and cowardice were passed from home to home. Yet it seemed to me that there was more courage than cowardice to be found, which gave us hope for humanity even in these dark days.
Soon after our release from prison, we decided to move from the center of the town to a house in the most remote part of the faubourg [suburb], Saint Germain. Our new home was but a few moments walk from the countryside. But although we were close, we did not dare to walk there. The parks and woods that surrounded us and had once belonged to royalty were now haunted by revolutionaries,...