French Revolution - Motives of Committee of Public Safety

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Essay Topic: Discuss the motives of the Committee of Public Safety and the role they played in the running of France (up to 27 July 1794)

"Anarchy within, invasion without. A country cracking from outside pressure, disintegrating from internal strain. Revolution at its height" This was the country the Committee of Public Safety ("The committee"), inherited and it was announced their mission by the Convention, to "create a viable (republican) state amid political turmoil" , by means of intimidation and ultimately terror, indeed the proclamation of "terror as the order of the day" so as to establish a peaceful, stable government for the introduction of the constitution. "The aim of constitutional government is to preserve republic. The aim of revolutionary government is to establish it" This was to be achieved by the passing of "laws and controls necessary to strike terror in the hearts of counter revolutionaries" . However as is revealed through their actions and policies, the Committee had ulterior motives, harnessing Jacobin ideals. During the years of terror, ending July 27th 1794, the Committee established themselves within the running of France, by assuming control of areas of the economy, sections of war and munitions, as well as education and supply and provisioning as part of their bid for ultimate change.

"laws passed went beyond national safety and revealed a Jacobin social vision for a secular and republican education system and a national program of social welfare" . The terror was their weapon, with which to establish and restructure areas of education, war and munitions, provisioning and supply, and ultimately change the very principles and traditions daily life relied upon. It became both their motive, and their mission, and it was part of their role which they played in the running of France. No longer was "The central purpose of the terror to institute the emergency and draconian measures necessary at a time of military crisis" , but rather to establish an official ideology from which would stem republicanism and other Jacobin ideals.

The Committee were able to acquire control over the Convention and the industries of France, by relying on the support of Jacobin members of the Convention. "The national convention claimed sovereign authority, but in half of France its authority was denied." . It is for this reason that they were able to create a virtual dictatorship over France and introduce policies such as the policy of Suspects, and the Law of 22 Prairial, (June 10, 1794), which "suspended a suspects right to a public trial and to legal assistance".
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