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 • 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 • 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 • Who are the sovereign people and how do they exercise sovereignty? • Why had they not resolved the question between 1789 and1793?
Bringing the Baker, the Baker’s Wife, and the Baker’s Son Back to Paris
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 • 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 • 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 Number of Capital Sentences Passed
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 • 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 • 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 • 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 “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 • 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)
Divorce • 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 in French colonies (February 4, 1794)
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 • 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