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Jacobin Legacy: The Democratic Movement under the Directory

Jacobin Legacy: The Democratic Movement under the Directory

Isser Woloch
Copyright Date: 1970
Pages: 472
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  • Book Info
    Jacobin Legacy: The Democratic Movement under the Directory
    Book Description:

    Professor Woloch shows that Jacobinism survived and forcefully developed into a constitutional party under the conservative Directorial republic. The Jacobin legacy was a mode of political activism-the local political club-and a constellation of attitudes which might be called the "democratic persuasion." By focusing on the nature of this persuasion and the way that it was articulated in the Neo-Jacobin clubs, the author provides a fresh perspective on the history of Jacobinism, and on the fate of the Directorial republic.

    Originally published in 1970.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7189-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Concordance of the Republican and Gregorian Calendars
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Part One: Origins and Testing

    • CHAPTER I Introduction: The Jacobin Clubs, 1792-95
      (pp. 3-18)

      The fact that Jacobinism in the French Revolution developed through the medium of political clubs is by no means incidental. This was its most generic quality and constitutes a logical starting point for analysis. By Jacobins—not simply the leadership in Paris, but the rank and file across France—I mean people who banded together in clubs in order to support and advance the Revolution. Once established, these clubs underwent significant changes in their social composition, political practices, and in the kinds of attitudes that they represented. Decisive turning points like the fall of the monarchy and the establishment of...

    • CHAPTER II The Problems of Reorientation
      (pp. 19-47)

      As the thermidorian reaction ground to its finish, democrats were carried far from where they had been and farther from where they had hoped to be. The convention was purged, the clubs closed, local militants disarmed, and the jails filled with the unlucky ones. Inflation again afflicted the nation’s masses, unopposed except by acts of desperation. What passed for public opinion was engrossed in exorcising sans-culottism, depantheonizing Marat, and writing a new bourgeois constitution. Vendettas and betrayals formed a somber mosaic of agony across the country. Yet for all its vigor and deepening sweep, the reaction failed to annihilate the...

    • CHAPTER III The Struggle for Survival: From Vendôme to Fructidor
      (pp. 48-80)

      Provincial officials reported the consternation of Jacobin cadres as they heard news of the “Babeuf plot” from Paris. Some officials chose to see this reaction as a sign of complicity in the alleged conspiracy.¹ More likely, one can assume that these Jacobins understood a signal for reaction when they saw it. Gloom spread rapidly in Jacobin circles. A letter from the activist Rossignol in Paris to his wife in Rochefort—intercepted by officials seeking out subversive correspondence—conveyed the prevailing sense of despair. “Scarcely had I started writing to you when I heard the news that another plot is unfolding...

  7. Part Two: Resurgence

    • CHAPTER IV The New Clubs: Social Consciousness and Composition
      (pp. 83-113)

      In the wake of Fructidor, freedom of association was dramatically restored. The purged Legislature revoked the Clichyites’ law of 7 thermidor that had temporarily banned all clubs, and on the very next day the Constitutional Circle of the Hôtel du Salm reconvened amidst public fanfare. Obviously, Neo-Jacobins did not have a monopoly on clubs, as the loftily conservative addresses of Benjamin Constant before the Hotel du Salm demonstrated. Likewise the Directory’s agents in the provinces who felt surrounded by an apathetic or hostile populace deemed Constitutional Circles useful. The administration of the Vienne department expressed a common view when it...

    • CHAPTER V Jacobin Civisme: The Clubs in Action
      (pp. 114-148)

      What functions did the new clubs ascribe to themselves? What patterns of activity can be reconstructed from their fragmentary records?

      To begin with, the clubs had for proponents and antagonists alike a symbolic significance. Appreciating that their history was virtually synonymous with the progress of the revolutionary cause, conservatives restricted the clubs extensively in the constitution and exercised a continuing surveillance over them thereafter. Reactionaries and royalists went even further by trying periodically (as in germinal Year IV and thermidor Year V) to ban them altogether. Conversely, Jacobin publicists defended the sanctity of the clubs even when they were in...

    • CHAPTER VI The Democratic Persuasion: Attitudes and Issues
      (pp. 149-186)

      By many standards Neo-Jacobinism was not cohesive. A collection of local groups in urban or quasi-urban settings, it represented no single economic, regional, ethnic, or class interest. Affiliated only through the informal ties of the democratic press, the new clubs boasted neither a centralized party apparatus nor any recognized national leaders. Moreover, there was available to the Neo-Jacobins no distinctive body of inherited doctrine or single document that could unite them in an explicit public position. But Neo-Jacobins did share a persuasion: “a broad judgment of public affairs informed by common sentiments and beliefs.”¹ And in-articulating this persuasion they were...

    • CHAPTER VII Ideology and Patronage: A Case Study of Evreux
      (pp. 187-205)

      Purges carried out from above punctuated political life in Directorial France much the way insurrectionaryjourniéeshad in 1789 or 1793. Devoid of thejournées’drama and social depth, these mutations in political personnel offer the spectacle of a dreary spoils system. But if personal ambition and careerism animated these struggles for place, so too did ideological conflict. This case study of one department will suggest that while the point of politics may have been the competition for official positions, its counterpoint was the clash of political persuasions. In this interplay, the position of the Neo-Jacobins was defined.

      To begin...

    • CHAPTER VIII Neo-Jacobinism and the Parisian Sans-Culottes
      (pp. 206-238)

      Paris led a dual life at the height of revolution. The hub of a nationally organized Jacobin government, it was also a collection of 48 quasi-autonomous sections. The newly organized cadres of sans-culottes or sectionnaires did not fuse harmoniously with the Jacobin leadership. Robespierrist or government-oriented in its politics, the mighty Paris Jacobin Club remained essentially middle class in composition. Outside its orbit the sans-culottes had their own clubs and sectional assemblies, which formed the institutional basis for a kind of popular democracy at the local level that was incompatible with Jacobin centralization. In addition, the Mountain’s pragmatic egalitarianism appeared...

  8. Part Three: Confrontation:: The Elections of 1798

    • CHAPTER IX Franchise Reform and Electoral Organization
      (pp. 241-271)

      Elections under the Constitution of the Year III were held in two stages. On the first of germinal, primary assemblies in the cantons and municipalities chose electors. Beginning on the twentieth, these electors convened in departmental electoral assemblies to choose deputies to the Legislature, departmental administrators, and judges. French males over twenty-one were eligible to vote in the primary assemblies if they were domiciled in the canton for a year, paid a direct personal property tax, were inscribed on the civic register, and were members of the national guard reserves. Citizens who were not on the tax rolls could still...

    • CHAPTER X Party Conflict: Jacobins and Directorials
      (pp. 272-310)

      The failure of parties to evolve out of the Revolution indisputably darkened France’s prospects and eased the way to dictatorship. By contrast, across the ocean in America parties were crucial for the survival and viability of the young federal republic. So divergent a development, however, was not as stark as it appears in retrospect. Within the framework of the Directorial constitution, France nearly did achieve the formation of rival parties during the 1798 election campaign as a consequence of the Neo-Jacobin resurgence. Precisely because the process of party formation came so close to fruition and yet aborted so totally, these...

    • CHAPTER XI Electors and Elections in Paris
      (pp. 311-344)

      Even when its political life was relatively subdued, Paris commanded attention. As the seat of national government and the center of political journalism its affairs were subjected to intense public scrutiny. Control of Paris in the elections of 1798 by the opposition would entail a particularly serious loss of prestige for the government, not to mention the prize of a sixteen-man deputation due to be elected. With increasing apprehension the government monitored the primary assemblies as they completed their balloting. The results seemed so dangerous that the Directory adopted a policy of repression, which it announced by the proclamation of...

  9. Part Four: Towards Brumaire

    • CHAPTER XII The Vicissitudes of Opposition: From Floréal to the Journée of 30 prairial VII
      (pp. 347-368)

      Looking back on the Year VI, Buonarroti briefly described its major event. In 1798, he recalled, “the struggle between the immoral ones and the democrats was renewed; the latter prevailed and succeeded in choosing popular republicans as deputies; [but] the people’s will was ignored by the Directory which exercised dictatorship. The democratic elections were annulled.”¹ What must be added is that this was the most gratuitous of setbacks. The era of upheaval was supposed to be over, constitutional normalcy to have arrived at last. Clubs, newspapers, and elections had replaced conspiracies and armed demonstrations. Nonetheless the Directory resorted to arbitrary...

    • CHAPTER XIII The Last Stand: Jacobinism and Anti-Jacobinism in the War Crisis of 1799
      (pp. 369-400)

      The four and a half months between thejournéeof 30 prairial and the brumaire coup saw the last stand of Neo-Jacobinism. Because it coincided with a war crisis that was in certain ways reminiscent of the Year II, the final confrontation of Jacobins and anti-Jacobins took on a dramatic intensity. But the rush of events makes it difficult to assess the relative importance of special circumstances in this last and relatively minor crisis as against the on-going problem of whether or not a democratic movement could survive in France. In any case, the short-lived anti-Directorial coalition of 30 prairial...

  10. Appendices

    • APPENDIX I Signatures on Petitions of the Constitutional Circle of the Faubourg Antoine
      (pp. 403-407)
    • APPENDIX II Occupations and Political Background of some members of the Constitutional Circle of the Faubourg Antoine
      (pp. 408-410)
    • APPENDIX III Patronage in the Faubourg Antoine under Sotin
      (pp. 411-412)
    • APPENDIX IV The Career of René Vatar
      (pp. 413-416)
    (pp. 417-440)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 441-455)