The Reign of Terror in America: Visions of Violence from Anti-Jacobinism to Antislavery

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In the 1790s, American conservatives were profoundly shaken when their French 'sister republic' collapsed into violent factionalism and civil war. Fearful that civic bloodshed and chaos might overwhelm their own new republic, northern Federalists and their Congregationalist allies reacted with a war of words directed at the French Revolution and at the Americans who supported it. The Reign of Terror in America traces the paths by which American fears of the French Revolution's violence gave rise, over the course of two generations, to antislavery, antiwar, and public-education movements in the United States. This book shows how the violence in France permeated political thought in the United States. Ultimately, the bloodshed in France inspired northeastern conservatives to oppose the violence of slaveholding, provided material for their attacks on Southern slavery, and helped to spark the Civil War.