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The long road to justice
The publication of the decree clearing Dreyfus
The joy of the Dreyfusards
Although General Picquart told Dreyfus that he would have "preferred the court martial but [he] will not persist," the decree of 12 July naturally a time of "unbounded joy" for the captain's entire family. Lucie Dreyfus organized the dinner that followed the announcement that her husband's name had been cleared: twenty-two guests consumed ten bottles of champagne, and the menu of melon, salmon trout, agneau jardinière, poulet monté, green beans and ice cream for dessert helped erase the memory of thousands of sad meals taken on Devil's Island.
On 20 June, L'Aurore wrote how very pleased it was that the Moras report demonstrated "the absolute inanity of the charges against Captain Dreyfus" and that "the infamy of those who wrenched from the military judges a conviction that was iniquity itself" was brought out into the open. The Catholic Committee for the Defense of the Law published an ordre du jour in which it rejoiced at a "decree that supremely restores the law that was so outrageously violated and proclaims the innocence of the officer unjustly convicted." Although he told the paper Le Temps, in its edition of 13 July, that he had been restored to his rank and did not know if he would benefit from promotions that would place him "in the rank of happier comrades that had pursued their careers without mishap," Alfred Dreyfus added, "The decree has been announced. I am an officer, and as such am obliged to refuse every interview. I have only one word to add, and which is addressed to all those who stood up for the truth and for an innocent man: Merci!"
An innocence displayed across France
The publication of the decree was guaranteed by the Court of Cassation's decree, which provided for its insertion in the Journal Officiel, and that it would be put up for display in Paris and Rennes as well as in five newspapers of Dreyfus's choice. In addition, the innocent man had the right to place paid announcements in fifty newspapers in Paris and around the country, to be paid for by the Treasury. On 13 July, the government announced to the deputies that it wanted the decree to be posted in every town in France; this was done, even though certain mayors displayed persistent anti-Dreyfusism by posting the decree upside-down, as shown in various police reports, particularly in the Morbihan.
In the midst of all the "tender outbursts," Alfred Dreyfus's thoughts went out to "those who are no longer here to savor the triumph of a cause for which they had suffered so much; Zola, Scheurer-Kestner, Trarieux, Grimaux, Giry, Molinier, Zadoc Kahn." The first name in the list in his Carnets is that of Bernard Lazare and Dreyfus wrote to Lazare's family that he "deserved to be present at the triumph of Truth, to which he contributed so powerfully. His memory will unshakably remain among us."
The message on 14 July from Major Forzinetti to Joseph Reinach was plain: "Revenge is sweet and I welcome it." The former commander of the Cherche-Midi military prison, who was convinced of the captain's innocence after observing him in the fall of 1894, wrote to the Dreyfusard deputy that reinstatement must take place in the courtyard of the Ecole Militaire, and that Dreyfus should be given the rank to which the most favored officer in Dreyfus's class had risen. Everything had already been decided concerning this last point, to the detriment of the new squadron leader, but the decree that cleared his name remained, for Dreyfus, "the triumph of justice and truth over error, lies and crime."