The Jacobin Club

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The  Jacobin Club:

The Committee of Public Safety followed a moderate course after its creation but proved weak and ineffective. After a few fruitless months under the committee, the sans-culottes finally

reached their boiling point. They stormed the National Convention and accused the Girondins of representing the aristocracy. Seeing an opportunity, Maximilien Robespierre, the leader of the Jacobins, harnessed the fury of the sans-culottes to take control of the convention, banish the Girondins, and install the Jacobins in power.

Once again, the sans-culottes proved to be a formidable force in effecting change during the Revolution. Already upset about the composition of the National Convention—which remained dominated by middle- and upper-class bourgeoisie and was influenced by big thinkers of the time—they became even angrier upon learning that many of the Girondin leaders expected them to bolster the failing war effort. Sieyes had originally rallied the Third Estate by reminding them that they numbered many and that their numbers gave them strength. This message clearly stuck with the sans-culottes throughout the Revolution, and they took advantage of their strength at every possible opportunity.

The  Reign  of Terror:

In the autumn of 1793, Robespierre and the Jacobins focused on addressing economic and political threats within France. What began as a proactive approach to reclaiming the nation quickly turned bloody as the government instituted its infamous campaign against internal opposition known as the Reign of     Terror.

Beginning in September, Robespierre, under the auspices of the Committee of Public Safety, began pointing an accusing finger at anyone whose beliefs seemed to be counter-revolutionary citizens who had committed no crime but merely had social or political agendas that varied too much from Robespierre’s. The committee targeted even those who shared many Jacobin views but were perceived as just slightly too radical or conservative.  A rash of executions ensued in Paris and soon spread to smaller towns and rural areas.

During the nine-month period that followed, anywhere from 15,000 to 50,000 French citizens were beheaded at the guillotine. Even longtime associates of Robespierre such as Georges Danton, who had helped orchestrate the Jacobin rise to power, fell victim to the paranoia. When Danton wavered in his conviction, questioned Robespierre’s increasingly rash actions, and tried to arrange a truce between France and the warring countries. Robespierre pursued his policies so relentlessly that even his supporters began to demand moderation. Finally, he was convicted by a court in July 1794, arrested and on the next day sent to the guillotine.

The Jacobin Club, The Jacobin Club
The Jacobin Club, The Jacobin Club

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