Jacobin (politics)

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A Jacobin (French pronunciation: [ʒakɔbɛ̃]), 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).


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. Robespierre was the leader.

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