University Studies of the University of Nebraska


On the Conflict of Parties in the Jacobin Club (November, 1789-July 17, 1791)

Charles Kuhlmann

Document Type Article


The Breton Club having ceased its activity after the discussion of the veto in August, 1789, the popular party in the assembly found itself without a railying point. Although differences of opinion had shattered the loosely organized club at Versailles, the memory of its usefulness soon induced the same members to attempt the formation of a new and more regularly organized association in the capital,1 The exact date of the formation of the J acobin Club it is impossible to determine from the evidence so far discovered, but everything points to the close of November or the first days of December, 1789, as the period during which the· first meetings were helJ. From a letter of Boulle, deputy of Pontivy, dated December 18,2 we learn that the society had recently been formed but had existed long enough to have received numerous requests for correspondence from provincial societies.3

This new organization adopted the name of "Society of the Revolution" which it soon changed to "The Society of the Friends of the Constitution." The name "Jacobin" was unofficial before September 21, 1792, and was given it by the public who knew it as the society which met in the Jacobin convent. A formal constitution or reglement was voted on February 8, 1790, entrance cards and initiation fees required, and persons not members of the National Assembly freely admitted. Preparation for the debates in the National Assembly, which had been practically the sole object of the Breton Club, was only one of the objects of the new society. Its aim was nothing less than the conversion of the whole of France to the support of the revolution. It was the center of an enormous propaganda, with secondary centers in all the principal cities of the kingdom, and soon spreading into the villages and even the country districts.~ Three large standing committees were appointed, meeting on fixed dates as deliberating bodies. These were the committees on membership, correspondence, and administration.