Anti-Jacobin

Anti-Jacobin

The Anti-Jacobin was founded by the Tory politician, George Canning, in 1797. The intention of the journal was to combat the radical political ideas which had emerged as a result of the French Revolution. Canning was particularly concerned with the work of William Hazlitt, Robert Southey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge that were appearing in journals such as The Monthly Magazine and The Watchman.

The Anti-Jacobin appeared weekly from 20th November 1797 to 7th July 1798. The editor was William Gifford and contributors included George Canning, James Gillray and John Hookham Frere.


Pitt and Anti-Jacobin hysteria: in the 1790s a press campaign lambasted Jacobins and fellow-travellers.

In the 1790s a press campaign Lambasted Jacobins and fellow-travellers. Stuart Andrews considers whether the Government orchestrated it all.

The inaugural issue of the Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine for July 1798 carried an engraving of a famous Gillray cartoon. It depicts the `High Priest of the THEOPHILANTHROPES, with the Homage of Leviathan and his suite'. Leviathan has the face of the Duke of Bedford, on whose back ride Charles James Fox, John Thelwall and other figures waving revolutionary caps. Some appended verses help to identify other participants: the `wandering bards' Samuel Coleridge and Robert Southey, Charles Lloyd (their protege) and Charles Lamb the Unitarian chemist Joseph Priestley and those exponents of the `New Morality', Thomas Paine, William Godwin, Gilbert Wakefield and Thomas Holcroft. Mary Wollstonecraft's Wrongs of Woman is among a pile of pamphlets spilling from a `Cornucopia of Ignorance', while representatives of the radical press cluster round Louis Marie de La Revelliere-Lepaux, the `holy hunchback' of the French Directory. A sack stuffed with ecclesiastical mitres and communion plate, labelled `Philanthropic Requisitions', implies the imminent confiscation of church property in order to relieve the poor.

The term `Theophilanthropes' derived from the Theophilanthropic societies of Paris that first appeared in 1796. Followers of the new religion described themselves as `Adorers of God and Friends of Men'. In spite of its aim to transcend party politics it attracted the support of Lepaux and the approval of the Directory. In his cartoon, Gillray applied the label to a remarkably mixed bag of radicals, while the verses below supplied an equally variegated spectrum of French revolutionaries ranging from the least Jacobin of Directors, through the decidedly assorted `Jacobins' of Marat, Mirabeau and Voltaire. The prospectus to the July issue of the journal, to be published on August 1st, claimed that there is no need to define Jacobinism, since `the existence of a Jacobin faction, in the bosom of our country, can no longer be denied'.

Confusingly, the publication was the second journal to bear the Anti-Jacobin title. Its predecessor, the Anti-Jacobin, or Weekly Examiner had first appeared in November 1797. The introduction to the bound volumes later claimed that the weekly journal was directed against `those writers with whom France and French freedom are all in all', and who opposed the war as `one of unexampled disaster and disgrace'.

The war with revolutionary France was certainly going badly for the British government. The year 1797 had not only witnessed the Nore and Spithead mutinies in the Royal Navy's own fleets, but also saw French armies triumph all over Europe--except in Wales. The French landing at Fishguard in February had been a fiasco, with their surrender two days later, but, as publication of Admiral Hoche's orders in the Anti-Jacobin show, only a contrary wind had diverted them from attacking Bristol. The editor's stated aim at this critical time was `to invigorate the Exertions of our Countrymen against every Foe, Foreign and Domestic'. Among the domestic foes, it seems, were the Romantic poets. The first two issues of the weekly focused on `Jacobin poetry'--poems of social protest such as Robert Southey's `The Widow'--where the poets were accused of demanding an increase in misery in order to make political protest more effective.

The Anti-Jacobin counters this supposed tactic with a parody `The Friend of Humanity and the Needy Knife-grinder' which ends with the frustrated philanthropist overturning the grinding-wheel in anger at the grinder's resigned acceptance of his lot. The parodists were two Old Etonians, John Hookham Frere and George Canning, the future prime minister who had just been appointed under-secretary for foreign affairs, in return for quitting the Whigs to join William Pitt and the Tory government. Canning and Frere also concocted another parody of Southey's verse ('The Soldier's Friend'), besides writing a spoof Foxite speech hailing a French-style English Revolution. And when Canning composed the `New Morality' verses, some of which accompany the Gillray cartoon, he apparently included ten lines written by Pitt himself. Pitt is also credited with a poem mocking Fox (whose bust had been placed in Catherine the Great's gallery, alongside those of Cicero and Demosthenes) and four or five other pieces, mainly on finance. Writing to Canning in February 1798, Pitt claimed to have spent `above a fifth of one of the finest Mornings possible' on one such article.

In Canning's litany of Jacobins, William Godwin presented a particular target. In 1794 Godwin had helped to frustrate government attempts to invoke the 1351 Treason Act against John Horne Tooke, Thelwall, Holcroft and Hardy, for revolutionary agitation in England--all of whom were acquitted. It was Godwin, too, who published an anonymous pamphlet attacking the `Gagging Bills' of 1795, which curbed freedom of the press and freedom of association. Coleridge's place in the Jacobin pantheon was earned by his Bristol lecture of November 1795 in which he described the bills as `conceived and laid in the dunghill of despotism among the other yet unhatched eggs of the old serpent'. Coleridge's Bristol friend Thomas Beddoes went on to write a 200-page pamphlet accusing Pitt of having abandoned all his promises of reform, and of contriving to mock `the unhappy with false hopes, and add disappointment to injustice'.

While the Anti-Jacobin now took pride in `an Administration hostile to French principles', the Morning Chronicle, the Morning Post and the Courier were objecting to the proposed public subscription to finance the war, on the grounds that it was a device to keep Pitt in office. The Anti-Jacobin accordingly determined to expose the shortcomings of such `Jacobin prints', having `beheld with indignation the prostitution of the BRITISH PRESS for French purposes'. Publishing contradictory accounts from the Morning Chronicle and the Echo de la Republique Francaise, it added: `We leave the Morning Chronicle to make out this business as well as it can, with its fellow Echo of the French Republic.' It campaigned for the government to withdraw official advertising from `prints so hostile to itself'--a method used by Alexander Hamilton to sabotage Jefferson's Republican newspapers--while noting `the wonderful sympathy which subsists between the Jacobins of Great Britain and those in America'.

The Anti-Jacobin came to an end in July 1798 (no.36), claiming to have kept its contract with the public by maintaining publication until the end of the parliamentary session. It boasted that `the spell of Jacobin invulnerability is now broken', asserting that each week it had exposed six lies and six mistakes. With sales and a print run of 2,500 copies, it claimed to have achieved a circulation, allowing for lending, of 50,000. In its nine months of publication, the Anti-Jacobin had `driven the Jacobins from many strongholds' and `exposed their Principles, detected their Motives, weakened their Authority and overthrown their Credit'. A footnote expressed satisfaction that a new magazine was already advertised `under the same name which we have adopted, and professedly on the same principles'.

There was indeed no break in continuity, for the new monthly Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine first appeared at the end of July. Oddly, the editors of both journals were called Gifford. William, editor of the weekly Anti-Jacobin, would achieve fame as a future editor of Quarterly Review, while John Gifford had already established his Pittite credentials in his Letter to Lord Lauderdale (1796).

The political character of the new journal may be gauged from some of the articles in the first issue. Cobbett's `American Judge, or the American Liberty of the Press' was given pride of place, with its bold claim that `the French Directory have newspapers in their pay, not only in America, but in every country in Europe.' Other notices censured Fox's decision to absent himself from Parliamentary sittings and denounced the `monkey-like jargon' of Paine's 1797 `Letter to the People of France and the French Armies'. A poem, `The Crisis, or the British Muse to the British Minister and Nation', was warmly commended at a time when `venal writers and unprincipled orators prostitute their pens and their tongues to the justification of French crimes and the exaggeration of French prowess.' Considerable space in this first number was devoted to Mary Wollstonecraft's Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman, with Godwin's newly published edition of Mary's Memoirs and Posthumous Works. `The moral sentiments and moral conduct' of Mary Wollstonecraft and her American lover, Gilbert Imlay, the paper commented `exemplify and illustrate JACOBIN MORALITY'.

The Analytical Review, published from May 1788 to December 1798 by the radical bookseller, Johnson (who also published Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft and the young Wordsworth), was as outspoken in its criticism of Pitt's war policy as its longer-lived fellow reviews the Analytical, Monthly and the Critical. But when the Analytical consoled Wollstonecraft by predicting that `better times approach and thy vindication is secure', the Anti-Jacobin pretended to see this as an expectation of a successful French invasion. It bracketed the Analytical with the Monthly and Critical reviews as `repositories of anti-constitutional, impious and anarchical doctrines'. The Anti-Jacobin was clear that, in wartime, it is as much the government's duty `to attend to the Press, as to the army, or to the revenue'.

The Anti-Jacobin's summary of events confirms its sense of crisis. It described the autumn of 1798 as `a period peculiarly calamitous to all who feel an interest in the welfare of mankind', adding the gloomy observation: `To whatever part of the continent of Europe we direct our attention, we find much matter for regret, and little ground for consolation.' It was convinced that the Directory did not want lasting peace, since `WAR IS ESSENTIAL TO THE EXISTENCE OF JACOBINISM', and was certain that the Irish Rebellion was `nothing more nor less than a mere Jacobin Conspiracy'. The Analytical Review, more measured in tone, was a principal target because of its consistent questioning of the necessity for the war.

As early as June 1793, the Analytical had doubted the morality of allying with the partitioners of Poland, `just reeking from the spoils of plundered provinces'. In January 1795 it gave prominence to the argument advanced by the New Annual Register that, if Britain had stayed neutral and `treated the French from the first with frankness, honour and humanity', the course of the Revolution would have been different, and Brissot and the Girondins `would not have fallen the victims of their own moderation'. (The New Annual Register was not alone in thinking that Pitt's belligerence had provoked the Terror.) In January 1798, the Analytical Review had sadly concluded that it was only from the calamities of war that `Europe will learn that her real glory, as well as happiness, consists in the union, peace and harmonious intercourse of one federative state'. It was no doubt premature to be promoting European federalism.

In an example of the pro-war hysteria that the Anti-Jacobin exploited, Goethe was denounced in its pages as `one of those Literati who contribute by their writings to deprave the minds of their countrymen', while Southey's Joan of Arc was criticised for having as its subject `the ignominious defeat of the English'. After reviewing Charles Lloyd's Edmund Oliver, the editors reported that the author `censures us for representing him as a political Jacobin', and professed themselves happy to find that `his meaning was diametrically opposed to what his words appeared so plainly to convey.'

But there was some excuse for ambiguity--even in France. Robespierre's Jacobins had originated in the more exclusive Society of the Friends of the Constitution. This had broadened its membership by reducing its subscription fee, and by August 1790 there were 1,200 members in Paris. In the summer of 1792, the Club split, but writing in Ma) Thomas Cooper, the Manchester radical just back from Paris, could claim: `The King of France is alive, and chooses his Ministers from among the Members of this very Society. ' The Jacobin republic and its programme of `Virtue through Terror' belongs to the period 1793-94, but by 1798 the Anti-Jacobin had stretched the definition of Jacobinism. In its August issue it pointed out that `not only Marat and Robespierre, but Brissot, Condorcet and their associates entertained similar notions of justice with Lepaux'. The Jacobin label was now projected backwards, and affixed to the philosophes who `foresaw the Revolution, foretold it, and proposed the manner of achieving it by the adhesion of the people'. A correspondent to the journal explained: `Whoever is the enemy of Christianity and natural religion, of monarchy, of order, subordination, property and justice, I call a Jacobin.' It should be noted, though, that even this broad definition should have excluded Coleridge, as his calls for social justice were rooted in the egalitarianism of the New Testament.

More surprisingly, the Anti-Jacobin's blacklist extended even to John Locke, who `made the world a present which has proved fatal to its repose and happiness'. A review of Boucher's Causes and Consequences of the American Revolution blamed the loss of America, not on British ministers but on `that spirit of republicanism which overturned the constitution of Great Britain in 1648, and a large portion of which was carried over to America by the first puritan emigrants'. It is striking how readily the Anti-Jacobin of the 1790s draws parallels between the current situation and the English Civil War: `The descendants of the Puritans are still found among us,' transmitting their principles to posterity `by their offspring and their seminaries', and extolling the French Revolution `because it was founded on their principles'. Predictably it traces Puritan doctrines back to their source--`the French refugee Calvin'.

The Dissenters of the 1790s were trebly suspect: for their historic links with republicanism, for their opposition to the established church's claim on tithes, and for their Unitarianism. In reviewing Paine's deistical Age of Reasola, the Anti-Jacobin concedes that contributors to the Critical Review were `Unitarians or semi-Christians when compared with the Analytical conductors of irreligious trash'. Yet it was the Unitarian minister Richard Price who had provoked Edmund Burke into writing his Reflections, by his sermon praising the French Revolution. In reviewing Burke on publication, the Analytical had also reviewed no less than seven pamphlets in contradiction of his views. By 1798, Burke's arguments looked more persuasive, and as an ally of the ministry, he had been a powerful voice in urging Pitt to turn the war into a crusade.

The Anti-Jacobin was also alive to an imagined Catholic threat. Mindful of the approaching Millennium, supposedly signalled by Europe's latter day turmoil of revolution and war, a correspondent warned that horror of democracy was leading the continental powers to `favour the recovery of superstition and monkish influence', and referred to rumours that `the revival of the Jesuits is in contemplation'. The same correspondent noticed that the pope's Latin title (Vicarius Filii Deo) `exactly contains the number of the beast 666'. Lines in celebration of Nelson's victory on the Nile began: `when Popish plots by furious bigots hatched. ' The poet went on to praise William III for preserving Protestant England--before contrasting Bonaparte's fleet under `their Jacobinic flag' with England's `Christian hero with his gallant crew'. It seems a long way from Canning's future espousal of Catholic Emancipation.

Effective propaganda does not depend on logic or consistency. But even the Anti-Jacobin, after its sustained hostility to the Directory, was unsettled by Napoleon's coup d'etat. It took care to caution its readers -- gainst too hastily adopting `a crude, indigested opinion that this is an Anti-Jacobin Revolution, tending to favour the cause of royalty'. Napoleon's seizure of power was soon followed by peace treaties, with Austria in 1801 and with Britain in 1802. Pitt resigned before the peace, having failed to persuade George III of the need for Catholic Emancipation. He returned to confront Napoleon on the resumption of hostilities the following year, but he did not live to see the emperor's defeat. After his death in 1806, John Gifford--who continued to edit the Anti-Jacobin until his own death in 1818--went on to write a six-volume laudatory account of Pitt's political life.

Was Gifford subsidised by Pitt? Several historians think so, though direct evidence is predictably elusive. We know that in 1798 the Mien Office was given extended powers to promote counter-espionage at home and subversion abroad, while the strident campaign waged against editors allegedly in the pay of France looks suspiciously like a smoke-screen. When the Morning Chronicle castigated `Ministerial Writers' as mere `labourers for hire', the Anti-Jacobin distinguished between such patriotic polemicists and those `Jacobin Editors' who `write for hire and for French hire--not in defence of Religion, &c of their Country'. The inference seems inescapable.

Pitt and anti-Jacobinism are inseparable, both because the two versions of the Anti-Jacobin enjoyed ministerial support, and because posterity has seen Pitt through Anti-Jacobin eyes. This is scarcely a secret, as the Oxford English Dictionary unsurprisingly defines `Anti-Jacobin' as:

. opposed to the French Revolution,

and to those who sympathised with it,

or with democratic principles, who

were nicknamed Jacobins by the partisans

of Mr Pitt's administration.

Critics have not always recognised the propagandist nature of the term. Thus it is common to regard Coleridge as a youthful Jacobin, who later tried to conceal his revolutionary sentiments. This view is supported by Southey's oft-quoted remark that if Coleridge `was not a Jacobin in the common acceptation of the name, I wonder who the Devil was'.

Yet that `common acceptation' was a creation of Pittite propaganda purveyed by the Anti-Jacobin, not the historic Jacobinism of Robespierre's Republic of Virtue. In the 1790s `Jacobin' was used as indiscriminately as `Communist' by modern McCarthyites. Robespierre's Jacobins (as Coleridge rightly pointed out) not only subscribed to deism and universal suffrage, but believed that `no violence is properly rebellious or criminal which are the means of declaring and enforcing its will'. Coleridge later admitted that, in his 1795 Bristol lectures, he had `aided the Jacobins by witty sarcasms and subtle reasonings and declamations full of genuine feeling against all established forms'. But the Analytical reviewer, introducing lines from Coleridge's `Fears in Solitude' (1798), was right to remark:

Mr C. in common with many others of

the purest patriotism, has been slandered

with the appellation of an enemy

to his country. The following passage,

we presume, will be sufficient to wipe

away the injurious stigma and show

that an adherence to the measures

of [Pitt's] administration is not

the necessary consequence of

an ardent love for the constitution

That was almost the Analytical Review' s last word: the journal did not survive into 1799. Even before Bonaparte's overthrow of the Directory later that year, Burke's arguments had won a posthumous triumph, as Coleridge himself admitted. Yet apart from Coleridge's own attack on Burke in the first issue of the Watchman, I have identified sixty separate pamphlets of the 1790s directly addressed to Burke's views on the danger from French principles. Of these, fifty were hostile to Burke, while among the ten writers who supported him in print was John Gifford, panegyrist of Pitt and editor of the monthly Anti-Jacobin.

Robert Birley, The English Jacobins from 1789 to 1802 (Oxford University Press, 1924) Josceline Bagot, (ed) George Canning and His Friends (2 vols, London 1909) Peter Dixon, Canning: Politician and Statesman (Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1976) John Ehrman, The Younger Pitt (3 vols, Constable 1983-96): see vol. iii for Pitt's Anti-Jacobin articles Nicholas Roe, Wordsworth, Coleridge: the Radical Years (Clarendon Press, 1988) Lloyd Sanders (ed) Selections from the Anti-Jacobin together with some later poems of George Canning (Methuen, 1904): Alan Wharam, The Treason Trials, 1794 (Leicester University Press, 1992).

Stuart Andrews is author of several books on the eighteenth century. His Rediscovery of America: Transatlantic Crosscurrents in an Age of Revolution has just been published by Macmillan and St Martin's Press.


1799 Poetry of the Anti-Jacobin

A selection of poetry extracted from George Canning's newspaper the 'Anti-Jacobin, or, Weekly Examiner'.

The 'Anti-Jacobin' was founded in 1797, and was devoted to opposing the radicalism of the French Revolution. It was only published for a year, but was very influential in it's time.

Most of the poems in this collection are humorous with patriotic undertones. They ponder on French villainy, Irish treachery, and the hypocrisy of the Whigs.

With contributions by George Canning, George Ellis, John Hookham Frere, William Gifford, and more.

Bookplate of Allen Freer to the front pastedown. Small prior owner's ink inscription to the recto to the front endpaper.

Condition

In a half parchment binding with marbled paper to the boards. Externally, sound. Spine is a little cracked with some loss. Minor bumping to the extremities. Rubbing to the boards and spine. Front hinge is starting but firm. Bookplate to the front pastedown. Small prior owner's ink inscription to the recto to the front endpaper. Internally, generally firmly bound. Pages are lightly age-toned and generally clean with some odd spots.

Overall: Good

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Romantic Circles

Anti-Jacobin Review , 11 (1802), 394󈟍

[Review of] Rural Tales, Ballads, and Songs . By Robert Bloomfield. Author of the Farmer's Boy. Small 8vo. Pp. 119. 4s. Vernor and Hood. 1802.

In the ANTI-JACOBIN, for August, 1800, we had the pleasure of calling public attention to the unlettered muse of this 'second Burns'. We then beheld his rising genius with delight listened, with pleasure, to the warbling of his 'native wood notes wild' and we now hail, with increased satisfaction, the more matured flights of his well-fostered imagination.

In the Preface to this volume, which consists, principally, of Tales, Ballads , and Songs , we are informed that 'the poems here offered to the public were chiefly written during the interval between the concluding, and the publishing of " The Farmer's Boy ," an interval of nearly two years.' Some pieces, however, are of a later date.—Mr. Capel Lofft has kindly anticipated our labours, by affixing his opinion to the tail of 'The Miller's Maid,' one of the most conspicuous articles before us, in the following words:

'I believe there has been no such poem in its kind as the MILLER'S MAID, since the days of Dryden, for ease and beauty of language concise, clear and interesting narrative sweet and full flow of verse happy choice of the subject, and delightful execution of it.'

From this decision we do not mean to dissent though we cannot help smiling at the self-importance of the man, who, throughout the volume, has tacked his criticism to the end of each piece. But the public, perhaps, may not be dissatisfied with this as, with the poems, they have also the annotations of the critic, by the assistance of which they will certainly be competent to form an opinion of their own. A much smaller space, however, than the 'Miller's Maid' would occupy, will afford room for the sweetly-simple and affecting ballad of 'Market Night', which will fully enable our readers to appreciate the improved talents of our rustic bard.


The Jacobin dictatorship

One of the changes affected by the Convention was the creation of the French republican calendar to replace the Gregorian calendar, which was viewed as nonscientific and tainted with religious associations. The Revolutionary calendar was proclaimed on 14 Vendémiaire, year II (October 5, 1793), but its starting point was set to be about a year prior, on 1 Vendémiaire, year I (September 22, 1792). The new calendar featured a 10-day week called the décade, designed to swallow up the Christian Sunday in a new cycle of work and recreation. Three décades formed a month of 30 days, and 12 months formed a year, with 5 to 6 additional days at the end of each year.

The Convention consolidated its revolutionary government in the Law of 14 Frimaire, year II (December 4, 1793). To organize the Revolution, to promote confidence and compliance, efficiency and control, this law centralized authority in a parliamentary dictatorship, with the Committee of Public Safety at the helm. The committee already controlled military policy and patronage henceforth local administrators (renamed national agents), tribunals, and revolutionary committees also came under its scrutiny and control. The network of Jacobin clubs was enlisted to monitor local officials, nominate new appointees, and in general serve as “arsenals of public opinion.”

Opposed to “ultrarevolutionary” behaviour and uncoordinated actions even by its own deputies-on-mission, the committee tried to stop the de-Christianization campaigns that had erupted during the anarchic phase of the Terror in the fall of 1793. Usually instigated by radical deputies, the de-Christianizers vandalized churches or closed them down altogether, intimidated constitutional priests into resigning their vocation, and often pressured them into marrying to demonstrate the sincerity of their conversion. Favouring a deistic form of civil religion, Robespierre implied that the atheism displayed by some de-Christianizers was a variant of counterrevolution. He insisted that citizens must be left free to practice the Roman Catholic religion, though for the time being most priests were not holding services.

The committee also felt strong enough a few months later to curb the activism of the Paris sections, dissolve the armées révolutionnaires, and purge the Paris Commune—ironically what the Girondins had hoped to do months before. But in this atmosphere no serious dissent to official policy was tolerated. The once vibrant free press had been muzzled after the purge of the Girondins. In March 1794 Hébert and other “ultrarevolutionaries” were arrested, sent to the Revolutionary Tribunal, and guillotined. A month later Danton and other so-called “indulgents” met the same fate for seeking to end the Terror—prematurely in the eyes of the committee. Then the Convention passed the infamous law of 22 Prairial, year II (June 10, 1794), to streamline revolutionary justice, denying the accused any effective right to self-defense and eliminating all sentences other than acquittal or death. Indictments by the public prosecutor, now virtually tantamount to a death sentence, multiplied rapidly.

The Terror was being escalated just when danger no longer threatened the republic—after French armies had prevailed against Austria at the decisive Battle of Fleurus on 8 Messidor (June 26) and long after rebel forces in the Vendée, Lyon, and elsewhere had been vanquished. By that time the Jacobin dictatorship had forged an effective government and had mobilized the nation’s resources, thereby mastering the crisis that had brought it into being. Yet, on 8 Thermidor (July 26), Robespierre took the rostrum to proclaim his own probity and to denounce yet another unnamed group as traitors hatching “a conspiracy against liberty.” Robespierre had clearly lost his grip on reality in his obsession with national unity and virtue. An awkward coalition of moderates, Jacobin pragmatists, rival deputies, and extremists who rightly felt threatened by the “Incorruptible” (as he was known) finally combined to topple Robespierre and his closest followers. On 9 Thermidor, year II (July 27, 1794), the Convention ordered the arrest of Robespierre and Saint-Just, and, after a failed resistance by loyalists in the Paris Commune, they were guillotined without trial the following day. The Terror was over.


The Anti-Jacobin Novel: British Fiction, British Conservatism and the Revolution in France

Despite much recent interest in the culture of conservatism and loyalism in late eighteenth-century Britain, little attention has been paid to the highly conservative fiction of the decade or so either side of 1800. After considering why this has been the case, this article reveals that there were many more of these ‘anti-Jacobin’ novels than has previously been thought. It then surveys the major themes which run through the novels, binding them together into a coherent literary–political genre. When taken as a whole, rather than as the work of many individual authors, these novels reveal much about the society which bought and borrowed them. As a commodity in a competitive market, rather than as deliberate propaganda, they evolved according to the values and opinions of that readership which, in effect, commissioned them. The way in which they comprehend and portray Jacobinism elucidates how the threat posed to Britain by the French Revolution was actually perceived and understood by a large section of the British population, and the consistent themes of the novels emphasize the points around which the popular conservative campaign was organized in the aftermath of the revolution. Jacobinism emerges as many things, but never as a purely philosophical or political danger. A list of the major anti-Jacobin novels is appended.


Jacobin Dictatorship

the revolutionary democratic dictatorship that was the culminating stage of the French Revolution. The dictatorship was the result of the popular uprising of May 31-June 2, 1793, that brought the Jacobins to power (hence its designation, which became established in the historical literature). It was supported by the revolutionary bloc consisting of the urban petite and middle bourgeoisie and the majority of the peasant and plebeian masses. The Jacobin dictatorship was established at a difficult time, when the revolts launched by internal enemies (the royalists in the Vendée and the Girondins in such cities as Bordeaux, Toulouse, and Lyon), counterrevolutionary terror, intervention, and economic difficulties had brought the French Republic to the brink of disaster.

The legalization of the Jacobin dictatorship&rsquos rule was a gradual process it was crowned by the decrees of Oct. 10 and Dec. 4, 1793, which gave France a &ldquoprovisional revolutionary system of administration.&rdquo Enactment of the bourgeois democratic constitution adopted by the Convention on June 24, 1793, was postponed. All legislative and executive power was concentrated in the hands of the Convention and its committees: the Committee of Public Safety (which from July 27 was in effect headed by M. de Robespierre) essentially performed the functions of the revolutionary government the main task of the Committee of General Security and of the Revolutionary Tribunal was the struggle against domestic counterrevolution. Officials invested with emergency powers were sent by the Convention to the various departments and armies.

The concentration of state power in the hands of the Jacobin government was combined with the broad initiative of the popular masses and their organizations. In addition to the Jacobin Club, other important political groups were the democratic membership of the Paris Commune elected in November 1792 and the Paris sections associated with it, the Cordelier Club, the revolutionary committees operating throughout the country, and the numerous people&rsquos societies.

Direct pressure on the Convention on the part of the popular masses was largely responsible for the resolute policy of the Jacobin dictatorship. Upon the initiative of the Paris sections of the Commune, a decree of Aug. 23, 1793, mobilized the entire nation to repel the enemy. On Sept. 4&ndash5, 1793, pressed by the plebeian masses of Paris, the Convention instituted revolutionary terror in response to the terror of the enemies of the revolution speculators were repressed, and the state intervened in the distribution of basic consumer goods (for example, with the law of the general Maximum of Sept. 29, 1793). These measures curtailed the freedom of bourgeois accumulation, affected the interests of the urban and rural bourgeoisie, and went beyond the revolution&rsquos &ldquodirect, and already fully-matured bourgeois aims&rdquo (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 17, p. 47).

The Jacobins very quickly achieved the major goals of the bourgeois revolution and successfully defended its gains. Various decrees were passed in 1793, such as the decree of June 3 on the sale of small plots of land from emigres&rsquo estates June 10, on returning to the peasants the communal lands seized by feudal lords and dividing such lands equally among members of the communes and July 17, on the complete abolition of feudal dues without compensation. The decrees provided a radical solution to the principal problem of the revolution&mdashthe agrarian question in its boldness, this solution was unique in the history of bourgeois revolutions in the West.

The Jacobin dictatorship dealt a crushing blow to the forces of domestic counterrevolution, and in particular to the Vendee rebels. The founding of a mass national army, the purge of the officers&rsquo corps, the promotion of talented commanders from among the people, the speedy development of war production, the formulation of new strategy and tactics, the patriotic revolutionary enthusiasm, and the firm military leadership resulted in breakthroughs at the front in favor of France. By early 1794, France was cleared of the interventionists on June 26, 1794, the main forces of the Austrian Hapsburgs were routed in the battle of Fleurus (in modern Belgium).

In Lenin&rsquos judgment, the revolutionary activity of the Jacobin dictatorship was of great historical significance. &ldquoIf it is to be a Convention,&rdquo wrote Lenin, &ldquoit must have the courage, the capacity and the strength to strike merciless blows at the counterrevolutionaries instead of compromising with them. For this purpose power must be in the hands of the most advanced, most determined and most revolutionary class of today&rdquo (ibid., vol. 34, p. 37).

Once the Jacobin dictatorship had averted the danger of a restoration of the old regime, mutual antagonisms became more acute within the bloc of social forces that had come together around the Jacobins in the struggle against the common enemy. The lower strata of the urban and rural population were increasingly dissatisfied with the limited bourgeois nature of Jacobin policies&mdashfor example, the application of the law of the Maximum to workers&rsquo wages, the persecution of striking urban and rural workers, the suppression of the group known as the Enrages (&ldquomadmen&rdquo), the disbanding of the &ldquorevolutionary army&rdquo by the decree of Mar. 27, 1794, and the failure to implement the Ventóse decrees. As the danger of restoration of the monarchy receded, the big and middle bourgeoisie and the affluent and moderately well-off peasantry grew less tolerant of the revolutionary dictatorship&rsquos rule because of the regime&rsquos restrictions on free trade and free enterprise, the rigidly applied law of the Maximum, the policy of requisitions, and the revolutionary terror, the rich and the relatively well-to-do had limited opportunities to extract all the benefits of the victory of the bourgeois revolution.

In early 1794 these processes brought to a head the political struggle within the Jacobin bloc itself. Expressing the aspirations of the poor, the left Jacobins (or &ldquoextremists&rdquo), including the leaders of the Paris Commune J. R. Hébert and P. G. Chaumette, together with like-minded leaders of the Paris sections and of the Cordelier Club, demanded the enactment of further leveling measures to limit large-scale ownership and the bourgeois&rsquo freedom of profit, strictest observance of the law of the Maximum, intensified revolutionary terror, and war until full victory was won.

At the other end of the political spectrum were the &ldquoIndulgents,&rdquo or Dantonists, headed by J. Danton and C. Demoulins this group, which was associated with the new bourgeoisie that had emerged during the revolution, urged relaxation of the revolutionary dictatorship&rsquos rule and, in foreign policy, the speediest possible pursuit of peace.

Neither the executions of March and April 1794&mdashof Hébert and his followers, of Chaumette, of Danton, and of other Dantonists&mdashnor the intensification of revolutionary terror (by decree of June 10, 1794) could turn aside the inexorable course of the breakup of the Jacobin bloc and the growing crisis of the Jacobin dictatorship. During the months of June and July, a plot was formed within the Convention against the revolutionary government headed by Robespierre and his closest associates. Although some left Jacobins joined the plot, the leading role in it was played by representatives of the counterrevolutionary bourgeoisie. On July 27&ndash28, 1794, the Thermidorian coup overthrew the Jacobin dictatorship.

What is historically significant about the Jacobin dictatorship is that it led the bourgeois revolution in France to decisive victory, defended the gains of the revolution against internal and external counterrevolution, and laid the foundation of those revolutionary traditions that have played and still play a major role in the revolutionary movement of the 19th and 20th centuries.


Anti-Jacobin - History

“The 1619 Project,” published by the New York Times as a special 100-page edition of its Sunday magazine on August 19, presents and interprets American history entirely through the prism of race and racial conflict. The occasion for this publication is the 400th anniversary of the initial arrival of 20 African slaves at Point Comfort in Virginia, a British colony in North America. On the very next day, the slaves were traded for food.

The Project, according to the Times, intends to “reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.”

Despite the pretense of establishing the United States’ “true” foundation, the 1619 Project is a politically motivated falsification of history. Its aim is to create a historical narrative that legitimizes the effort of the Democratic Party to construct an electoral coalition based on the prioritizing of personal “identities”—i.e., gender, sexual preference, ethnicity, and, above all, race.

The Times is promoting the Project with an unprecedented and lavishly financed publicity blitz. It is working with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, which has developed a proposed teaching curriculum that will be sent to schools for teachers to use in their classes. Hundreds of thousands of extra copies of the magazine and a special supplement have been printed for free distribution at schools, libraries and museums across the country. Nikole Hannah-Jones, the staff writer and New America Foundation fellow who first pitched the idea for the Project, oversaw its production and authored the introduction, will be sent on a national lecture tour of schools.

The essays featured in the magazine are organized around the central premise that all of American history is rooted in race hatred—specifically, the uncontrollable hatred of “black people” by “white people.” Hannah-Jones writes in the series’ introduction: “Anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country.”

This is a false and dangerous conception. DNA is a chemical molecule that contains the genetic code of living organisms and determines their physical characteristics and development. The transfer of this critical biological term to the study of a country—even if meant only in a metaphorical sense—leads to bad history and reactionary politics. Countries do not have DNA, they have historically formed economic structures, antagonistic classes and complex political relationships. These do not exist apart from a certain level of technological development, nor independently of a more or less developed network of global economic interconnections.

The methodology that underlies the 1619 Project is idealist (i.e., it derives social being from thought, rather than the other way around) and, in the most fundamental sense of the word, irrationalist. All of history is to be explained from the existence of a supra-historical emotional impulse. Slavery is viewed and analyzed not as a specific economically rooted form of the exploitation of labor, but, rather, as the manifestation of white racism. But where does this racism come from? It is embedded, claims Hannah-Jones, in the historical DNA of American “white people.” Thus, it must persist independently of any change in political or economic conditions.

Hannah-Jones’s reference to DNA is part of a growing tendency to derive racial antagonisms from innate biological processes. Democratic Party politician Stacey Abrams, in an essay published recently in Foreign Affairs, claims that whites and African Americans are separated by an “intrinsic difference.”

This irrational and scientifically absurd claim serves to legitimize the reactionary view—entirely compatible with the political perspective of fascism—that blacks and whites are hostile and incompatible species.

In yet another article, published in the current edition of Foreign Affairs, the neurologist Robert Sapolsky argues that the antagonism between human groups is rooted in biology. Extrapolating from bloody territorial conflicts between chimpanzees, with whom humans “share more than 98 percent of their DNA,” Sapolsky asserts that understanding “the dynamics of human group identity, including the resurgence of nationalism—that potentially most destructive form of in-group bias—requires grasping the biological and cognitive underpinnings that shape them.”

Sapolsky’s simplistic dissolution of history into biology recalls not only the reactionary invocation of “Social Darwinism” to legitimize imperialist conquest by the late nineteen and early twentieth century imperialists, but also the efforts of German geneticists to provide a pseudo-scientific justification for Nazi anti-Semitism and racism.

Dangerous and reactionary ideas are wafting about in bourgeois academic and political circles. No doubt, the authors of the Project 1619 essays would deny that they are predicting race war, let alone justifying fascism. But ideas have a logic and authors bear responsibility for the political conclusions and consequences of their false and misguided arguments.

American slavery is a monumental subject with vast and enduring historical and political significance. The events of 1619 are part of that history. But what occurred at Port Comfort is one episode in the global history of slavery, which extends back into the ancient world, and of the origins and development of the world capitalist system. There is a vast body of literature dealing with the widespread practice of slavery outside the Americas. As Professor G. Ogo Nwokeji of the Department of African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, has explained, slavery was practiced by African societies. It existed in West Africa “well before the fifteenth century, when the Europeans arrived there via the Atlantic Ocean.”[1]

Historian Rudolph T. Ware III of the University of Michigan writes, “Between the beginning of the fifteenth century and the end of the eighteenth, millions lived and died as slaves in African Muslim societies.”[2] Among the most important of contemporary scholarly works on the subject is Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa, originally published in 1983, by the Canadian historian Paul E. Lovejoy. He explained:

Slavery has been an important phenomenon throughout history. It has been found in many places, from classical antiquity to very recent times. Africa has been intimately connected with this history, both as a major source of slaves for ancient civilizations, the Islamic world, India, and the Americas, and as one of the principal areas where slavery was common. Indeed, in Africa slavery lasted well into the twentieth century—notably longer than in the Americas. Such antiquity and persistence requires explanation, both to understand the historical development of slavery in Africa and to evaluate the relative importance of the slave trade to this development. Broadly speaking, slavery expanded in at least three stages—1350 to 1600, 1600 to 1800, and 1800 to 1900—by which time slavery had become a fundamental feature of the African political economy.[3]

Professor Lovejoy remarked in the preface to the Third Edition of his now-classic study that one of his aims in undertaking his research “was to confront the reality that there was slavery in the history of Africa, at a time when some romantic visionaries and hopeful nationalists wanted to deny the clear facts.” [4]

In relation to the New World, the phenomenon of slavery in modern history cannot be understood apart from its role in the economic development of capitalism in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As Karl Marx explained in the chapter titled “The Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist” in Volume One of Das Kapital:

The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalised the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief momenta of primitive accumulation. On their heels treads the commercial war of the European nations, with the globe for a theatre. It begins with the revolt of the Netherlands from Spain, assumes giant dimensions in England’s Anti-Jacobin War, and is still going on in the opium wars against China, &c.

Marx’s analysis inspired the critical insight of the brilliant West Indian historian Eric Williams, who wrote in his pioneering study Capitalism and Slavery, published in 1944 :

Slavery in the Caribbean has been too narrowly identified with the Negro. A racial twist has thereby been given to what is basically an economic phenomenon. Slavery was not born of racism: rather, racism was the consequence of slavery. Unfree labor in the New World was brown, white, black, and yellow Catholic, Protestant and pagan.

The formation and development of the United States cannot be understood apart from the international economic and political processes that gave rise to capitalism and the New World. Slavery was an international economic institution that stretched from the heart of Africa to the shipyards of Britain, the banking houses of Amsterdam, and the plantations of South Carolina, Brazil and the Caribbean. Every colonial power was involved, from the Dutch who operated slave trading posts in West Africa, to the Portuguese who imported millions of slaves to Brazil. An estimated 15 to 20 million Africans were forcibly sent to the Americas throughout the entire period of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Of these, 400,000 ended up in the 13 British colonies/United States.

Slavery was the inescapable and politically tragic legacy of the global foundation of the United States. It is not difficult to recognize the contradiction between the ideals proclaimed by the leaders of the American Revolution—which were expressed with extraordinary force by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence—and the existence of slavery in the newly formed United States.

But history is not a morality tale. The efforts to discredit the Revolution by focusing on the alleged hypocrisy of Jefferson and other founders contribute nothing to an understanding of history. The American Revolution cannot be understood as the sum of the subjective intentions and moral limitations of those who led it. The world-historical significance of the Revolution is best understood through an examination of its objective causes and consequences.

The analysis provided by Williams refutes the scurrilous attempt by the 1619 Project to portray the Revolution as a sinister attempt to uphold the slave system. Apart from the massive political impact of Jefferson’s Declaration and the subsequent overthrow of British rule, Williams stressed the objective impact of the Revolution on the economic viability of slavery. He wrote:

”When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…” Jefferson wrote only part of the truth. It was economic, not political, bands that were being dissolved. A new age had begun. The year 1776 marked the Declaration of Independence and the publication of the Wealth of Nations. Far from accentuating the value of the sugar islands [in the Caribbean], American independence marked the beginning of their uninterrupted decline, and it was a current saying at the time that the British ministry had lost not only thirteen colonies but eight islands as well.

It was not an accident that the victorious conclusion of the revolutionary war in 1783 was followed just four years later by the famous call of English abolitionist William Wilberforce for the ending of Britain’s slave trade.

In examining the emergence of British opposition to the slave trade, Williams made a fundamental point about the study of history that serves as an indictment of the subjective and anti-historical method employed by the1619 Project. He wrote:

The decisive forces in the period of history we have discussed are the developing economic forces. These economic changes are gradual, imperceptible, but they have an irresistible cumulative effect. Men, pursuing their interests, are rarely aware of the ultimate results of their activity. The commercial capitalism of the eighteenth century developed the wealth of Europe by means of slavery and monopoly. But in so doing it helped to create the industrial capitalism of the nineteenth century, which turned round and destroyed the power of commercial capitalism, slavery, and all its works. Without a grasp of these economic changes the history of the period is meaningless.

The victory of the American Revolution and the establishment of the United States did not solve the problem of slavery. The economic and political conditions for its abolition had not sufficiently matured. But the economic development of the United States—the simultaneous development of industry in the North and the noxious growth of the cotton-based plantation system in the South (as a consequence of the invention of the cotton gin in 1793)—intensified the contradictions between two increasingly incompatible economic systems—one based on wage labor and the other on slavery.

The United States heaved from crisis to crisis in the seven decades that separated the adoption of the Constitution and the election of President George Washington in 1789 from Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration and the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. None of the repeated compromises which sought to balance the country between slave and free states, from the Missouri Compromise of 1820 to the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, were ever able to finally settle the issue.

It is worth bearing in mind that the 87 years of history invoked by Lincoln when he spoke at Gettysburg in 1863 is the same span of time that separates our present day from the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932. The explosive socio-economic tendencies which would do away with the entire economic system of slavery developed and erupted in this relatively concentrated period of time.

The founding of the United States set into motion a crisis which resulted in the Civil War, the second American Revolution, in which hundreds of thousands of whites gave their lives to finally put an end to slavery. It must be stressed that this was not an accidental, let alone unconscious, outcome of the Civil War. In the end, the war resulted in the greatest expropriation of private property in world history, not equaled until the Russian Revolution in 1917, when the working class, led by the Bolshevik Party, took state power for the first and so far, only time in world history.

Hannah-Jones does not view Lincoln as “the Great Emancipator,” as the freed slaves called him in the 1860s, but as a garden-variety racist who held “black people [as] the obstacle to national unity.” The author simply disregards Lincoln’s own words—for example, the Gettysburg Address and the magisterial Second Inaugural Address—as well as the books written by historians such as Eric Foner, James McPherson, Allen Guelzo, David Donald, Ronald C. White, Stephen Oates, Richard Carwardine and many others that demonstrate Lincoln’s emergence as a revolutionary leader fully committed to the destruction of slavery.

But an honest portrayal of Lincoln would contradict Hannah-Jones’ claims that “black Americans fought back alone” to “make America a democracy.” So too would a single solitary mention, anywhere in the magazine, of the 2.2 million Union soldiers who fought and the 365,000 who died to end slavery.

Likewise, the interracial character of the abolitionist movement is blotted out. The names William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Elijah Lovejoy, John Brown, Thaddeus Stevens, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, among others, do not appear in her essay. A couple of abolitionists are selectively quoted for their criticism of the Constitution, but Hannah-Jones dares not mention that for the antislavery movement Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence was, in the words of the late historian David Brion Davis, their “touchstone, the sacred scripture.”

Hannah-Jones and the other 1619 Project contributors—claiming that slavery was the unique “original sin” of the United States, and discrediting the American Revolution and the Civil War as elaborate conspiracies to perpetuate white racism—have little to add for the rest of American history. Nothing ever changed. Slavery was simply replaced by Jim Crow segregation, and this in turn has given way to the permanent condition of racism that is the inescapable fate of being a “white American.” It all goes back to 1619 and “the root of the endemic racism that we still cannot purge from this nation to this day.” [5] [emphasis added]

This is not simply a “reframing” of history. It is an attack and falsification that ignores more than a half-century of scholarship. There is not the slightest indication that Hannah-Jones (or any of her co-essayists) have even heard of, let alone read, the work on slavery carried out by Williams, Davis, or Peter Kolchin on the American Revolution by Bernard Bailyn and Gordon Wood on the political conceptions that motivated union soldiers by James McPherson on Reconstruction by Eric Foner on Jim Crow segregation by C. Vann Woodward or on the Great Migration by James N. Gregory or Joe William Trotter.

What is left out of the Times’ racialist morality tale is breathtaking, even from the vantage point of African-American scholarship. The invocation of white racism takes the place of any concrete examination of the economic, political and social history of the country.

There is no examination of the historical context, foremost the development of the class struggle, within which the struggle of the African-American population developed in the century that followed the Civil War. And there is no reference to the transformation of the United States into an industrial colossus and the most powerful imperialist country between 1865 and 1917, the year of its entry into World War I.

While the 1619 Project and its stable of well-to-do authors find in the labor exploitation of slavery a talisman to explain all of history, they pass over in deafening silence the exploitation inherent in wage labor.

A reader of the 1619 Project would not know that the struggle against slave labor gave way to a violent struggle against wage slavery, in which countless workers were killed. There is no reference to the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 which spread like wildfire along the railways from Baltimore to St. Louis and was only suppressed by the deployment of federal troops, nor to the emergence of the Knights of Labor, the fight for the eight-hour day and the Haymarket Massacre, the Homestead Steel Strike of 1892, the Pullman strike of 1894, the formation of the AFL, the founding of the Socialist Party, the emergence of the IWW, the Ludlow Massacre, the Great Steel Strike of 1919, the countless other labor struggles that followed World War I, and finally the emergence of the CIO and the massive industrial struggles of the 1930s.

In short, there is no class struggle and, therefore, there is no real history of the African-American population and the events which shaped a population of freed slaves into a critical section of the working class. Replacing real history with a mythic racial narrative, the 1619 Project ignores the actual social development of the African-American population over the last 150 years.

Nowhere do any of the authors discuss the Great Migration between 1916 and 1970 in which millions of blacks, and whites, uprooted from the rural South and flocked to take jobs in urban areas across the US, particularly in the industrialized North. James P. Cannon, the founder of American Trotskyism, captured the revolutionary implications of this process, for both African-American and white workers, in his inimitable prose:

American capitalism took hundreds of thousands of Negroes from the South, and exploiting their ignorance, and their poverty, and their fears, and their individual helplessness, herded them into the steel mills as strikebreakers in the steel strike of 1919. And in the brief space of one generation, by its mistreatment, abuse and exploitation of these innocent and ignorant Negro strikebreakers, this same capitalism succeeded in transforming them and their sons into one of the most militant and reliable detachments of the great victorious steel strike of 1946.

This same capitalism took tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of prejudiced hillbillies from the South, many of them members and sympathizers of the Ku Klux Klan and thinking to use them, with their ignorance and their prejudices, as a barrier against unionism, sucked them into the auto and rubber factories of Detroit, Akron and other industrial centers. There it sweated them, humiliated them and drove and exploited them until it finally changed them and made new men out of them. In that harsh school the imported southerners learned to exchange the insignia of the KKK for the union button of the CIO, and to turn the Klansman’s fiery cross into a bonfire to warm pickets at the factory gate. [6]

As late as 1910, nearly 90 percent of African-Americans lived in the former slave states, overwhelmingly in conditions of rural isolation. By the 1970s, they were highly urbanized and proletarianized. Black workers had gone through the experiences of the great industrial strikes, alongside whites, in cities like Detroit, Pittsburgh and Chicago. It is no historical accident that the civil rights movement emerged in the South in Birmingham, Alabama, a center of the steel industry and the locus of the actions of communist workers, black and white.

The struggle of wage labor against capital at the point of production united workers across racial boundaries. And so, in the fevered rhetoric of the Jim Crow politician, the civil rights movement was equated with communism and the fear of “race-mixing”—that is, that the working masses, black and white, might be united around their common interests.

Just as it leaves out the history of the working class, the 1619 Project fails to provide political history. There is no accounting of the role played by the Democratic Party, an alliance of Northern industrialists and machine politicians, on one side, and the Southern slavocracy and then Jim Crow politicians, in consciously pitting white and black workers against each other by stoking up race hatred.

In the numerous articles which make up the 1619 Project, the name of Martin Luther King, Jr. appears just once, and then only in a photo caption. The reason for this is that King’s political outlook was opposed to the racialist narrative advanced by the Times. King did not condemn the American Revolution and the Civil War. He did not believe that racism was a permanent characteristic of “whiteness.” He called for the integration of blacks and whites and set as his goal the ultimate dissolution of race itself. Targeted and harassed as a “communist” by the FBI, King was murdered after launching the interracial Poor People’s Campaign and announcing his opposition to the Vietnam War.

King encouraged the involvement of white civil rights activists, several of whom lost their lives in the South, including Viola Liuzzo, the wife of a Teamsters union organizer from Detroit. His statement following the murders of the three young civil rights workers in 1964, Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman (two of whom were white) was an impassioned condemnation of racism and segregation. King clearly does not fit into Hannah-Jones’ narrative.


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This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1926.

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Images

A rapid expansion of children&rsquos literature

The reasons for this sudden rise of children's literature have never been fully explained. The entrepreneurial genius of figures like Newbery undoubtedly played a part, but equally significant were structural factors, including the growth of a sizeable middle class, technical developments in book production, the influence of new educational theories, and changing attitudes to childhood. Whatever the causes, the result was a fairly rapid expansion of children&rsquos literature through the second half of the 18th century, so that by the early 1800s, the children&rsquos book business was booming. For the first time it was possible for authors to make a living out of writing solely for children, and to become famous for it. Children&rsquos literature, as we know it today, had begun.

M O Grenby is Professor of Eighteenth-Century Studies in the School of English at Newcastle University. He works on 18th-century literature and culture, and in particular on the early history of children&rsquos books. His published works include The Anti-Jacobin Novel, The Edinburgh Critical Guide to Children&rsquos Literature and The Child Reader 1700&ndash1840, and he co-edited Popular Children&rsquos Literature in Britain, Children&rsquos Literature Studies: A Research Handbook and The Cambridge Companion to Children&rsquos Literature.

The text in this article is available under the Creative Commons License.


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