What Was The Main Aim Of The Terror?

1436 words - 6 pages


The Committee of Public Safety and much of the population may have believed its main aim was fighting for Liberty and the writings of the Philosophes, and in the Declaration of the Rights of Man; as after the Revolution the Philosophes, Rousseau and Voltaire’s remains were both given in a ceremonial transfer to the Pantheon. However it is probable that the Philosophes didn’t mean for this to happen as they believed in equality for everyone and that there should be no oppression, however the Terror didn’t end up fighting oppression as it actually created oppression and nobody was treated as equal. Also the Declaration of the Rights of Man was suspended by the Committee of Public Safety so ...view middle of the document...

The Mountain argued that the government must become “revolutionary” to run effectively and that it must systematically confront its internal enemies as civil and internal problems arose. Therefore after persuasion from the sans-culottes the Committee of Public Safety led the Convention into “the Terror”.
The Terror as a form of government meant that the state could use their power to ensure compliance with the demands of the government. Anyone who didn’t comply faced a revolutionary tribrunal, which tried “suspects” of treason, those convicted were sentenced to the guillotine. The suspects included foreign and internal “enemies of the revolution”.
It may be said that the main target of the Terror was counter-revolution. This is shown in the Vendee Uprising, where it seems the government saw their only option was to supress the counter-revolutionary rebels in the “Grand Catholic and Royal Army” who had conquered many towns and set up a rival government.
As the convention sent deputies to act as “representatives on mission”in the revolutionary army to oversee the destroying of these federalist groups – it could be said that the main aim of the Terror was to enforce the law and mobilise the nations resources for war to enable them to stop armed rebellion. This tactic was used to allow the government to get rid of everyone who resisted revolutionary justice.
However the representatives were given “unlimited powers” to allow them to face any task; however many abused this power for example the thousands that were drowned in the river as they gave what they called “patriotic baptisms”. This shows that the government may not have meant for the Terror to lead to so much bloodshed, they may have just wanted to suppress the rebels but the representatives took it too far. Although it could also be argued that if they didn’t want it to go that far, they wouldn’t have given them the unlimited power.
Robespierre, a member of the Committee of Public Safety believed that the country needed to be cleansed of those who did not believe in the Revolution. Robespierre led to the Law of Suspects in September 1793 where all citizens had to obtain a Certificat de Civisme to prove their ideological soundness; if they failed to obtain on they would be imprisoned without trail and be executed.
In June 1794 Robespierre also pressured the Committee of Public Safety into the tribunal instituted to punish enemies of the people – followers of tyranny and enemies of liberty those that were accused were executed with no trial.
It is shown that many of the Parisian’s agreed with the Committee of Public Safety way of dealing with the rebels as they believed that the supporters of counter-revolutionaries were nothing less than royalists who needed to be eliminated.
The Terror may not have been created to “cleanse the French Nation” because many of the most radical Jacobins like Georges Danton argued in 1793 that the violence had gone too far and was creating an unstable...

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