It is believed that Maximilien Robespierre was the first to use the phrase "liberty, equality, fraternity" (liberté, equalité, fraternité) during a 1790 speech entitled "On the Organization of the National Guard." He wanted these words to appear on the guards' uniforms and on the tricolor flag of the nation, but his proposal was not accepted.
Later, the slogan was changed to "Unity, indivisibility of the Republic; liberty, equality, brotherhood or death" by a resolution of the Paris Commune in 1793. The Commune ordered the slogan to appear on all the house fronts in Paris, and the residents of other cities also inscribed them on their house fronts. This phrase also appears in Dickens's novel, A Tale of Two Cities, a literary account of the French Revolution. The meaning of this phrase is that if one does not grant liberty, equality, or fraternity to others—one does not treat others like they would treat their own brother—one will meet death. This phrase also foreshadowed the 1793–1794 Reign of Terror. In this period political opponents of the government were targeted and often executed.