National Convention


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National Convention

 

the highest legislative and executive organ of the First Republic in France. It was in existence from Sept. 21, 1792, to Oct. 26, 1795.

The National Convention was elected after the popular uprising of Aug. 10, 1792, which overthrew the monarchy and forced the Legislative Assembly to change the system of electoral qualifications and decree the convocation of a national congress. Two-stage elections to the convention, in which all men (excluding domestic servants) over the age of 21 were eligible to vote, were held. There were three groups of deputies to the convention: the Girondins, who tried to hold back the forward movement of the revolution; the Jacobins, who tried to further the revolution; and the Plaine, who supported whoever was more powerful at any given moment.

The history of the National Convention is divided into three periods. During the first period, control belonged to the Girondins. However, in the trial of Louis XVI, a slim majority overruled the Girondins and supported the Jacobin proposal on the execution of the former king (January 1793) and approved the Law of the Maximum (May 1793), which instituted government limits on prices. The popular uprising of May 31-June 2, 1793, drove the Girondins from power and gave full power to the Jacobins.

The Jacobin convention was the supreme organ of the Jacobin dictatorship. The dictatorship carried out the most important tasks of the revolution (organizing the national forces to defeat the counterrevolution, liquidating feudal relationships in the countryside, and adopting a democratic constitution in 1793). The National Convention and its subordinate committees, including the Committee of Public Safety and Committee of General Security, formed the revolutionary government of the Jacobins. The National Convention of this period received the high evaluation of V. I. Lenin, who wrote: “a convention . . . must have the courage, the capacity, and the strength to strike merciless blows at the counterrevolutionaries instead of compromising with them” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 34, p. 37).

The Thermidorian coup (July 1794) began the Thermidorian Convention, which in the interest of the counterrevolutionary big bourgeoisie liquidated the basic social and democratic gains of the Jacobins and prepared the way for transition to the regime of the Directory.

A. Z. MANFRED

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