Initially founded by anti-Royalist deputies from Brittany, the Club grew into a nationwide republican movement, with a membership estimated at a half million or more. The Jacobin Club was heterogeneous and included both prominent parliamentary factions of the early 1790s, the radical Mountain and the more moderate Girondins, in 1792–93, the Girondins dominated the Jacobin Club and led the country. Believing that revolutionary France would not be accepted by its neighbours, they called for a foreign policy. The Girondins were the dominant faction when the Jacobins overthrew the monarchy, when the Republic failed to deliver the unrealistic gains that had been expected, they lost popularity. The Girondins sought to curb fanatical revolutionary violence, and were accused by the Mountain of being royalist sympathisers. The National Guard eventually switched its support from the Girondins to the Mountain, in May 1793, led by Maximilien de Robespierre, the leaders of the Mountain faction succeeded in sidelining the Girondin faction and controlled the government until July 1794. Their time in government was characterized by radically progressive legislation imposed with very high levels of political violence, in June 1793, they approved the Constitution of Year 1 which introduced universal male suffrage for the first time in history. In September 1793, twenty-one prominent Girondins were guillotined, beginning the Reign of Terror, in October, during the Terror, the new constitution was ratified in a referendum which most eligible voters avoided participating in. In 1794, the Thermidorian Reaction pushed the Mountain out of power, the Jacobin Club was closed and many of its leaders, including Robespierre, were executed. Today, Jacobin and Jacobinism are used in a variety of senses and it was so named because of the Dominican convent where they met, which had recently been located in the Rue St. Jacques, Paris. The club originated as the Club Breton, formed at Versailles from a group of Breton representatives attending the Estates-General of 1789, when the Estates-General was convened in 1789, at Versailles, the club was initially composed exclusively of deputies from Brittany. However, they were joined by deputies from other regions throughout France. At this time, meetings occurred in secret, and few traces remain concerning what took place or where the meetings were convened. By the March on Versailles in October 1789, the club, the group rented for its meetings the refectory of the monastery of the Jacobins in the Rue Saint-Honoré, adjacent to the seat of the Assembly. The name Jacobins, given in France to the Dominicans, was first applied to the club in ridicule by its enemies and it occupied successively the refectory, the library, and the chapel of the monastery. Once in Paris, the club underwent rapid modifications, the first great change was its extension of membership to others besides deputies. All citizens were allowed to enter and even foreigners were welcomed, Jacobin Club meetings soon became a place for radical and rousing oratory that pushed for republicanism, widespread education, universal suffrage, separation of church and state, and other reforms. At the same time the rules of order of election were settled, by the 7th article the club decided to admit as associates similar societies in other parts of France and to maintain with them a regular correspondence
Image: Jacobin Vignette 03
The Jacobin Club was in the Rue Saint-Honoré, Paris.
Seal of the Jacobin Club from 1789–1792, during the transition from Absolutism to Constitutional monarchy
Engraving "Closing of the Jacobin Club, during the night of 27–28 July 1794, or 9–10 Thermidor, year 2 of the Republic"