Lastly, in matters of finance he showed his wisdom: he attacked Necker's "caisse d'escompte," which was to have the whole control of the taxes, as absorbing the Assembly's power of the purse; and he heartily approved of the system of assignats, but with the reservation that they should not be issued to the extent of more than one-half the value of the lands to be sold.
Dumont was a Genevese exile, and an old friend of Romilly's, who willingly prepared for him those famous addresses which Mirabeau used to make the Assembly pass by sudden bursts'of eloquent declamation; Claviere helped him in finance, and not only worked out his figures, but even wrote his financial discourses; Lamourette wrote the speeches on the civil constitution of the clergy; Reybaz not only wrote for him his famous speeches on the assignats, the organization of the national guard, and others, which Mirabeau read word for word at the tribune, but even the posthumous speech on succession to the estates of intestates, which Talleyrand read in the Assembly as the last work of his dead friend.
But for the appalling economic conditions produced by the fall in the value of assignats, Babeuf might have shared the fate of other agitators who were whipped into obscurity.
Not only the workmen and the large class of idlers attracted to Paris by the system, but rentiers and government officials, whose incomes were paid in assignats on a scale arbitrarily fixed by the government, saw themselves threatened with actual starvation.
Assignats were so termed, as representing land assigned to the holders.