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This page describes the political term "Jacobin." For discussion of the political organization of the French Revolution era, see Jacobin Club. Jacobinism is unrelated to Jacobitism or the English Jacobean period.
Idealized Sans-culotte by Louis-Léopold Boilly (1761-1845).
The Motto of the French Republic: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity or Death. The "or Death" part, too strongly associated with Reign of Terror, was later dropped.

A Jacobin, in the context of the French Revolution, was a member of the Jacobin Club (1789–1794). The Jacobin Club was the most famous political club of the French Revolution. So called from the Dominican convent, where they originally met, in the Rue St. Jacques (Latin: Jacobus), Paris. At that time, the term was popularly applied to all supporters of revolutionary opinions. In contemporary France it refers to the concept of a centralized Republic, with power concentrated in the national government, at the expense of local or regional governments. Similarly, Jacobinist educational policy, which influenced modern France well into the 20th century, sought to stamp out French minority languages that it considered reactionary, such as Breton, Basque, Catalan, Occitan, Alsatian, Franco-Provençal and Dutch (West Flemish).

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United Kingdom

George Canning's paper, The Anti-Jacobin, directed against the English Radicals, of the 18th-19th Century, consecrated its use in England.

The English who supported the French Revolution during its early stages (or even throughout) were early known as Jacobins. These included the young Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, and others prior to their disillusionment with the outbreak of the Reign of Terror. Others, such as William Hazlitt and Thomas Paine, remained idealistic about the Revolution. Much detail on English Jacobinism can be found in E. P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class.

The Anti-Jacobin was planned by Canning when he was Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He secured the collaboration of George Ellis, John Hookham Frere, William Gifford, and some others. William Gifford was appointed working editor. The first number appeared on 20 November 1797, with a notice that "the publication would be continued every Monday during the sitting of Parliament". A volume of the best pieces, entitled The Poetry of the Anti-Jacobin, was published in 1800. It is almost impossible to apportion accurately the various pieces to their respective authors, though more than one attempt has been made to do so. When it finished in 1798, John Gifford began The Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine, or, Monthly Political and Literary Censor, which ran until 1821.

Austria

In the correspondence of Metternich and other leaders of the repressive policies that followed the second fall of Napoleon in 1815, Jacobin is the term commonly applied to anyone with liberal tendencies, such as the emperor Alexander I of Russia.

United States

Early Federalist-leaning American newspapers during the French Revolution referred to the Democratic-Republican party as the "Jacobin Party". The most notable examples are the Gazette of the United States, published in Philadelphia, and the Delaware and Eastern Shore Advertiser, published in Wilmington, during the elections of 1798.

Today, the term is used in American politics to describe extremists of any party who demand ideological purity. For example, in an article in The New Republic, commentator Eve Fairbanks described right-wing opponents of moderate Republican Congressman Wayne Gilchrest as "Jacobin conservatives".[1]

Allegorical usage

The conventionalized scrawny, French revolutionary sans-culottes Jacobin, was developed from about 1790 by British satirical artists James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson and George Cruikshank. It was commonly contrasted with the stolid stocky conservative and well-meaning John Bull, dressed like an English country squire. C.L.R. James also used the term to refer to revolutionaries during the Haitian Revolution in his book The Black Jacobins.

See also

References

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