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How Do We Think About the French Revolution?. How did the French Jacobins use state power to achieve revolutionary goals during the Terror (1793-1794)? What were their goals? Why did extraordinary state power seem critical to attaining these goals?.

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how do we think about the french revolution
How Do We Think About the French Revolution?
  • How did the French Jacobins use state power to achieve revolutionary goals during the Terror (1793-1794)?
    • What were their goals?
    • Why did extraordinary state power seem critical to attaining these goals?
the terror as genocide totalitarianism
The Terror as Genocide/Totalitarianism
  • 250,000 Insurgents killed in Vendée Fighting Alone -15% population
    • But 200,000 Revolutionary troops killed too
  • Victims of Vendée describe the Terror as a Genocide of the Catholic Western France
  • Probably 40,000 officially executed in all of France
  • Others described coercion, the Jacobin Dictatorship, the price controls, and levée en masse (universal draft of all citizens) an example of early Totalitarianism
  • Drowning Prisoners – The Vendée
the terror as desperate measure to deal with crisis
The Terror as Desperate Measure to deal with Crisis
  • During Terror:
    • Universal Manhood Suffrage (women’s clubs)
    • Radical Constitution of 1793
    • Abolished Serfdom
    • Abolished Slavery
    • Attempted Land Reform
  • But:
    • At war with most of Europe
    • In serious civil war with uprisings in the Vendée, major cities (Caen, Bordeaux, Marseille, Lyon)
key problem sovereignty
Key Problem: Sovereignty
  • Who are the sovereign people and how do they exercise sovereignty?
  • Why had they not resolved the question between 1789 and1793?
Key Questions:
    • How much would popular violence influence rational political debate?
    • Is popular sovereignty possible?
    • How do you incorporate working class Parisians, peasants, and women into the polity?
the national convention
The National Convention
  • Fall of Verdun to Prussians (September 2, 1792)
  • September Massacres (September 2-6,1792)
  • French Victory at Valmy (September 20, 1792)
  • French Annexation of Savoy (27 November 1793)
growing split between mountain and girondins
Growing Split Between Mountain and Girondins
  • Execution of Louis XVI (January 21, 1793)
  • French Declare War on England, Holland, Spain (Feb-March 1793)
  • Levée (Draft) of 300,000 (February 24, 1793)
  • Creation of Special Revolutionary Tribunal (March 10, 1793)
  • Creation of Surveillance Committees (March 10, 1793)
  • Creation of Committee of Public Safety (April 6, 1793)
counterrevolution in western france march 1793
Counterrevolution in Western France, March 1793

Number of Capital Sentences Passed

have people of paris become source of sovereignty
Have People of Paris Become Source of Sovereignty?
  • Law of Maximum (May 4, 1793)
  • Invade Convention – Persuade Mountain to Arrest 31 Girondist Deputies for Treason (June 2, 1793)
  • Ascendancy of Committee of Public Safety - Robespierre
july august 1793 situation dire
July- August 1793 – Situation Dire
  • Federalist Revolts in Caen, Bordeaux, Marseille, Lyon – Provinces should be sovereign, not just people of Paris
  • Charlotte Corday Assassinates Jean-Paul Marat (July 13, 1793)
  • Toulon Surrenders to British Navy (August 27, 1793)
  • Defeat of French Revolution Seemed Certain
  • Popular Movements in Paris pressure Convention to Take Radical Measures (September 5-6, 1793)
radical measures of terror
Radical Measures of Terror
  • Levée en masse (August 23, 1793):

“The young men will go in battle; married men will forge arms and transport provisions; women will make tents and clothing and serve in hospitals; children will make bandages; old men will get themselves carried to public places to arouse the courage of warriors and preach hatred of kings and unity of the republic.”

july 1794 enemies defeated
July 1794 – Enemies Defeated
  • Planned Economy: Fixed Prices, Wages
  • Food Rationing
  • “Equality Bread”
  • Organized Industry/Society to Produce Arms and Ammunition
  • “Emergency Socialism” of a Profound Kind
constitution of 1793
Constitution of 1793

“The aim of society is the happiness of all.”

“Public assistance is a sacred debt. Society owes a living to the unfortunate among its citizens, either by finding work for them or by guaranteeing the means of subsistence to those who are not in a fit condition to work.”

“Education is a necessity for all.”

“When the government violates the rights of the people, then insurrection …is the most sacred and necessary of duties.”

women s clubs
Women’s Clubs
  • Universal Manhood suffrage proclaimed with Republic (September 1792)
  • Women actively involved in clubs, Parisian sections, Convention (as hecklers)
  • Women’s Clubs Closed (October 30, 1793)
  • September 1792 – Couple could divorce by mutual consent, or for reasons like insanity, battering, or criminal conviction
  • April 23, 1794 – Women could divorce husbands who abandoned them and remarry immediately
abolition of slavery
Abolition of Slavery
  • Abolition of slavery in French colonies (February 4, 1794)
the revolution devours its own
The Revolution “Devours Its Own”
  • Terror: Put on Trial “Enemies of the Nation” for crimes against “the nation,” “against the people”
  • Arrest and execution of Hébertistes (March 13-24, 1794)
  • Arrest and execution of Dantonists (March 30-April 6, 1794)
  • Law of 22 Prairial II (June 10, 1794):

“Every citizen is empowered to seize conspirators and counterrevolutionaries, and to bring them before the magistrates. He is required to denounce them as soon as he knows of them.”

  • 40,000 Killed, 300,000 arrested
thermidorian reaction
Thermidorian Reaction
  • French defeat Austrians at Fleurus (June 26, 1794) – removal of external military threat
  • 9th Thermidor (July 27, 1794) Execution and overthrow of Robespierre
    • Wanted to create “A Republic of Virtue”
    • Wrote early treatise against the Death Penalty
    • How could the Revolution have gone so wrong?
  • Abolition of General Maximum (December 24, 1794)
  • Forced used to restrict Popular Political Activity
  • Runaway Inflation
  • Restricted Suffrage