Domestic opposition to the government in Paris was a constant throughout theFrench Revolution. Although the revolutionary government repressed each instance of unrest,the various opposition movements’ motivations and goals provide a lens through which wecan re-evaluate the values of liberty, equality, and justice that revolutionaries articulated.One domestic opposition movement, the Federalist Revolt of 1793, had major significance for the course of the Revolution. The Federalist Revolt raised questions about fundamental aspects of the Revolution itself: who were the sovereign people? Who claimed to represent the people?Was violence integral to claiming sovereignty? I explore a number of aspects of the FederalistRevolt. Why did the revolt occur? Why did its participants arm themselves? Who were the participants and detractors of the Federalist Revolt? What was the impact of the Federalist Revolt on the policies and practices of the National Convention? How did signs of the Terror reveal themselves in debates of sovereignty and acts of repression during the periods of civil unrest?Distinct regional identities and the diverse effects of revolutionary policy on these regions was the essence of the tension between Paris and the provinces.
Additionally, I challenge the past historiography on the Federalist Revolt and argue that armed resistance to perceived oppressive government had always been present in the politics of France. The Federalist Revolt was an ideological struggle between various levels of government authority. Historians in the past by and large accepted the viewpoint of the central government that the Federalist Revolt was a counter-revolutionary movement. Writers such as Paul Frolich, who defended the violent actions of the Jacobin leaders preceding the Terror, and historians like Albert Mathiez (Le Bolchevisme et le Jacobinisme (1920),La Révolution Française (1924)), Jacques Godechot (La grande nation: l'expansion révolutionnaire de la France dans le monde de 1789 à 1799 (1956) La contre-révolution: doctrine et action, 1789-1804 (1961) La pensée révolutionnaire en France et en Europe, 1780-1799 (1963)) and Georges Lefebvre (Classes and Class Struggles during the French Revolution (1953), The Parisian Sans-Culottes andthe French Revolution (1964),The Sans Culottes: the Popular Movement andRevolutionary Government (1972),The French Revolution 1787-1799 (1975), A Short History of theFrench Revolution (1977)), renowned yet somewhat controversial, taking hardline marxist interpretations on the Revolution, formed the general basis of thought around the narrative of counter-revolution. This paper falls in line with Suzanne Desan’s understanding of the Federalists, who said “the leaders of the Federalist Revolt were not counterrevolutionaries. They were not Royalists. They were revolutionaries.” The interests of the Federalist Revolt were closely aligned with the early revolutionary years, focused on claiming sovereignty for the nation to end the injustices of the Old Regime, rather than embracing a grand revolutionary vision.
"ENEMIES OR SAVIORS: THE COMPLICATIONS OF RESISTING REVOLUTION,"
University of Massachusetts Undergraduate History Journal: Vol. 3, Article 1.
Available at: https://scholarworks.umass.edu/umuhj/vol3/iss1/1