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Jacobins

Jacobins, The, took their name from the "Convent of the Jacobins," a Dominican monastery where they held their sittings. The Dominicans were called Jacobins, because their earliest house in Paris had been dedicated to St. James. The nucleus of the Jacobin Club was the "Club Breton," a body of Breton deputies to the States-General who used to meet at Versailles to concert action in the Assembly. Out of this grew "the Friends of the Constitution," a larger body, who, when they moved to Paris with the King and Assembly in October, 1789, met at the "Couvent des Jacobins." Their proceedings soon became public, their debates were reported, and citizens who were not deputies became members. The Moderate Revolutionists, such as Lafayette, now began to secede, and the society was directed by the members of the Left and Left-Centre in the Constituent Assembly. During the year 1790 more than one thousand similar clubs were formed throughout France, and were affiliated with the "mother-society," with whom also an elaborate system of correspondence was organised. After the death of Mirabeau (March, 1791) the influence of Robespierre began to be predominant, and the name Jacobin came to have a wider significance. After the flight from Varennes the society was reorganised on a more democratic basis, but the club as a body took no part in the Revolution of the tenth of August (1792). Robespierre and most of the leaders also opposed the conflict with Europe, which was the policy of the Gironde. The Jacobins defended Marat from the attacks of the latter party, and assisted the Commune to destroy them. They supported Robespierre in his proscription of the Dantonists and Hebertists, and they shared in his fall. More than one hundred perished with him on the scaffold, and the club, temporarily closed, was not allowed to be reopened until the society had undergone a thorough purgation. In November, 1794, the chief leaders of the Thermidorian reaction obtained a decree for the suspension of their sittings, and when this was resisted Legendre treated the Jacobins as Cromwell had the Rump. In 1799 a new society, which had been formed under the same name, was dissolved by order of the Directory.

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