Amongst all the the bad things about the French Revolution – the murders, the mutilations, the rapes, the robbery, the paper fiat money (and so on) there were some good things… and these good things happened during one session of the ‘National Assembly’ – a session about the time of the 4th of August 1789 (there was some night work – but there is no great need to complicate matters).
Serfdom may have covered only a tiny minority of the French population and courts may not have been in the habit of enforcing it – but it was still good to have it abolished. The old taxes may soon have been replaced by worse taxes – but it was good to have so many of the old ones abolished. It was of course wrong to later rob the Church of its lands (and later to plunder other people of their land, and to rob a lot of other people of various things), but tithes were wrong – and they went in the August 4th session.
Of course such things (that some books give credit to the Revolution for) such as religious toleration and the end of torture had been granted by Louis XVI long before the Revolution (and were soon violated by the Revolutionaries anyway), but it was nice to have formal statements about the end of ‘putting the question’ and freedom of conscience.
If any day in the Revolution deserves to be celebrated (most of the Revolution being a matter of robbery and mass murder – mostly of ordinary people) it is August 4th.
Certainly July 14th should not be celebrated. The Bastille contained about half a dozen people (including de Sade) and it was not ‘stormed’ at all. The Governor of the Bastille gave up the defence of the place when he was offered safe conduct – he was then promptly murdered.
When talking of the French Revolution it is normal to make a nod to the Declaration of the Rights of Man – but I have read it (in translation) and the drafting does not compare very well to (for example) the American Bill of Rights. At first glance the French Revolutionary document looks like a defence of individual rights, but the more one reads it and thinks about the wording the less good it is. To put it American terms – the thing smells of Thomas Paine (not the libertarian a lot people think he was).