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Club de Clichy

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Title: Club de Clichy  
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Subject: Jean-Antoine Marbot, Jean Debry, Brunswick Manifesto, Second League of Armed Neutrality, Symbolism in the French Revolution
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Club de Clichy

During the French Revolution, the Club de Clichy formed in 1794, following the fall of Robespierre, 9 Thermidor an II (27 July 1794). The political club that came to be called the Clichyens met in rooms in the rue de Clichy, which led west towards the fashionable Parisian suburb of Clichy. The club was initially constituted around the dismissed deputés of the Convention, most of whom had been imprisoned during the Reign of Terror. Under the French Directorate they began to play an increasingly important role on the political Right, embracing moderate republicans and monarchiens, that is, those who still believed that in a constitutional monarchy based in part on the British model lay the best future for France. The main projectors of the "Clichy club" were François Antoine de Boissy d'Anglas, Charles Pichegru and Camille Jordan;[1] among other members were Mathieu Dumas, Pierre Paul Royer-Collard, and General Willot. With the closure of the Jacobin Club in November 1794, the danger from the political Left appeared to subside, and moderates drifted away from the Club de Clichy, which was dormant for several years.

Under the Directorate, the salons of Paris began cautiously to reconvene, under the guidance of women whose fortunes had not been ruined during the Revolution's first decade; the private sphere became politicized "one of the few sanctuaries of free exchange" observes the historian of the salons as a political force, as the public sphere was not free.[2] Within the span of political opinion, those members of the Club de Clichy who figured among the monarchiens signalled their party loyalties in the long black waistcoats they wore.[3] Mme de Staël attempted in her salon mixte to bridge the social and political differences between the monarchiens of the Club de Clichy and factions who were more securely associated with the new regime, such as those who congregated with Benjamin Constant at the Hôtel de Salm or in Talleyrand's circle.

In a rearguard reaction to preserve the rapidly dissolving powers of the Directorate in the face of public opinion, after 205 of 216 conventionnels who ran for re-election in 1797 were rejected by the limited group of enfranchised voters (but two of the Clichyens were seated)[4] the extremists among the Club de Clichy were intent on turning out the Directors and repealing Revolutionary legislation, especially that directed against the returned émigrés and the Church.

The club de Clichy seemed to be in a position to dominate the Council of Five Hundred through the newly elected deputies. Divisions among the group pitted about 80 intransigent partisans for the return of monarchy, headed by Gilbert-Desmolières, against moderates around Mathieu Dumas, who avoided confrontations with the five-man Directorate. The apex of the Clichyens' influence was in the election to the Directorate of Balthazar-François Barthélémy.

Napoleon Bonaparte's reaction was a proclamation to the army denouncing the Clichyens, and matters rapidly evolved in the coup d'état of 18 Fructidor. On 3 September a royalist conspiracy was announced; the following morning Pichegru, still in correspondence with the prince de Condé,[5] was among those arrested. Few others among the Clichyens, however, were in such treasonable relations with the royalist pretender and his advisors.[6] On the fifth, he was among those ordered for deportation to Guyane, and the new party rapidly consolidated its power. Among its first actions was to close and ban the Club de Clichy, though it hesitated to treat other, more private salons— though kept under close police surveillance— as political associations, which the Directorate had previously banned as "private associations occupying themselves with political questions."[7]

In the history of slavery the Clichyens's nucleus of French colonial planters coordinated a common voice against Abolition, as detrimental to the French colonies. Public statements of the club de Clichy generally appeared in the right-wing press, L'Éclair, Le Véridique, Le Messager du soir, Les nouvelles politiques.[8]


  1. ^ Robert Matteson Johnston, The French revolution: a short history p. 248.
  2. ^ Steven D. Kale, French Salons: High society and political sociability from the Ancien Régime to the revolution of 1848 (Johns Hopkins Press) 2004, p. 72
  3. ^ Kale.
  4. ^ Huntley Dupre, Lazare Carnot, Republican Patriot (Mississippi Valley Press) 1940, p. 243.
  5. ^ According to Adolphe Thiers, Histoire de la révolution française vol. 9, p. 146
  6. ^ A. Thiers suggests the deputé Roland-Gaspard Lemerer, a certain Mersan, Jacques Imbert-Colomès, , Pichegru and perhaps Willot.
  7. ^ Kale, p. 73.
  8. ^ For general context, see Jeremy D. Popkin, The Right-Wing Press in France, 1792-1800 (University of North Carolina Press) 1980.
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