The most influential of the political clubs that emerged during the French Revolution. Originally known as the Breton Club, which grouped “patriot” deputies, and renamed “Society of the Friends of the Constitution,” it met at a former convent of the Jacobins on the rue Saint-Honoré that gave them their name. Affiliated clubs sprung up all over France. Initially, the Jacobins had a mostly middle-class membership, but as the Revolution radicalized, the membership reached further down the social scale to include many artisans and shopkeepers. During the trial of the King, moderates who opposed violence were excluded from the Paris club, which became a staunch supporter of the use of terror in defense of the revolutionary government. Despite this embrace of very advanced notions, this association with the government came to distance the club from the popular movement. Increasingly isolated from the sections and the sans-culottes, and even from the National Convention, the Jacobin Club suffered from the fate that befell Robespierre, one of its leading lights on 9 Thermidor (27 July). Public opinion blamed the Jacobins for the Terror, and the club was suppressed on 22 Brumaire Year III (12 November 1794). The meeting place was even abolished and a “White Terror” against former Jacobins emerged in many places. However, the spirit of the Jacobins and Jacobinism survived. A Jacobin movement reemerged under the Directory in defense of the republic and did well in the elections of the Year VI (1798), but this movement was a shadow of its former self and soon faced renewed proscription, first under the Directory and then definitively under Bonaparte. Still today the term “Jacobinism” has meaning as a political commitment to small-propertied ownership of farms and shops.
“Jacobin Club,” LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY: EXPLORING THE FRENCH REVOUTION, accessed December 6, 2023, https://revolution.chnm.org/d/1094.