Reign of Terror Essay Sample

Reign of Terror Pages
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France was experience a great amount of change in the summer of 1793, when the Jacobins succeeded the moderates in the National Convention. With the radical Jacobins in power, the country was in tumult, and a Reign of Terror ensued due to a law of suspects that legalized local revolutionary committees. Because of this, thousands of people were killed by guillotine or other methods. Throughout the summer of 1793, the radical Jacobins’ control of the Committee of Public Safety instituted the Terror which was advantageous in it’s intended purpose, yet it was disadvantageous because of the enemies it created. The main purpose of the Terror was to instill widespread discouragement in those who considered rebelling against the new government. After the terror ended, a grand total of over 14,000 noblemen and peasants alike were killed. It is apparent that the government did not discriminate entirely when it came to social class, for 25% of the nobles in Paris as well as a whopping 68% of the working class/peasants throughout France were killed (document 2).

For the French people during the Terror, no one was safe. Those who were executed were a result of acts of treason, such as conspiracy, opposing opinions, or refusing alliance to the state (document 3). Even mentioning any sort of opposition will result in an execution, which created so much fear that it ensured that people would not go against the state. This excess of death was an advantage for the Revolutionary Army because they ultimately wiped out their opposition. Those in the army truly believed they were bringing justice to the new government, as seen in document 5. Moreover, because the law that caused the Terror did not discriminate, some believed that “the verdicts of the Revolutionary Tribunal are always applauded” because “it strikes rich and poor indiscriminately” (document 9).

Although the aforementioned document should not be entirely taken seriously because of its lack of author, it still establishes the fact that at least one group of people were in support of the Terror. Moreover, a report to the government on public opinion states, “the majority of the citizens agreed in unanimously saying that tribunals act well, that they acquit the innocent and punish the guilty” (document 7). However, this report was most likely made to favor the ideals of the government, so it is most likely untrue. Simply put, the Terror was advantageous because it wiped out much of the opposition. Although they may have somewhat succeeded in suppressing the opposing sentiment within France, the Revolutionary Army managed to establish more enemies to clash with later on. Desmoulins in document 6 asked “Could you make a single man perish on the scaffold without making ten enemies for yourself from his family or his friends”.

In Desmoulins’s opinion, it is impossible to go about killing a man without creating enemies out of that man’s affiliations in the process. Quite simply, the Army’s belief that they are moving towards a common good is negated by the sheer fact that they are murdering mass amounts of French citizens. The public opinion of the matter includes “bitter complaints [are] already expressed numberless times” (document 10). This is a great disadvantage because the Army established a mutual disdain for the revolutionary government. Without support of the government, it is rather difficult to flourish. All in all, the Reign of Terror was successful in giving the advantage of suppressing opposition and instilling fear in the French people. However, a great disadvantage was that the Revolutionary Army established enemies in the process, which they could not avoid.

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