Activities of the Jacobins

The Englishman Arthur Young, who was in France during the early stages of the Revolution, recorded his observations. In this letter from mid–January 1790, he describes a Jacobin club meeting, which he depicts as being highly procedural in nature as it elects new leaders.


At night, Monsieur Decretot and Monsieur Blin carried me to the revolution club at the Jacobins. . . . There were above one hundred deputies present, with a president in the chair; I was handed to him, and announced as the author of the Arithmetique Politique; the president standing up repeated my name to the company and demanded if there were any objections—None; and this is all the ceremony, not merely of an introduction but an election: for I was told that now I was free to be present when I pleased, being a foreigner. Ten or a dozen other elections were made. In this club the business that is to be brought into the National Assembly is regularly debated; the motions are read that are intended to be made there, and rejected or corrected and approved. When these have been fully agreed to, the whole party are engaged to support them. Plans of conduct are there determined; proper persons nominated for being of committees, and presidents of the Assembly named. And I may add that such is the majority of numbers, that whatever passes in this club is almost sure to pass in the Assembly.

Arthur Young.

[Jan. 17, 1790.]

Source: Arthur Young, Travels in France and Italy (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1934), 320–21.