The Making of a Terrorist: Alexandre Rousselin and the French Revolution

ISBN : 9780197529928

Jeff Horn
262 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jan 2021
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Much has been written about the French Revolution and especially its bloody phase known as the Reign of Terror. The actions of the leaders who unleashed the massacres and public executions, especially Maximilien Robespierre and Georges Danton, are well known. They inspired many soldiers in the Revolutionary cause, who did not survive, let alone thrive, in the post-Revolutionary world. In this work of historical reconstruction, Jeff Horn recounts the life of Alexandre Rousselin and narrates the history of the age of the French Revolution from the perspective of an eyewitness. From a young age, Rousselin worked for and with some of the era's most important men and women, giving him access to the corridors of power. Dedication to the ideals of the Revolution led him to accept the need for a system of Terror to save the Republic in 1793-94. Rousselin personally utilized violent methods to accomplish the state's goals in Provins and Troyes. This terrorism marked his life. It led to his denunciation by its victims. He spent the next five decades trying to escape the consequences of his actions. His emotional responses as well as the practical measures he took to rehabilitate his reputation illuminate the hopes and fears of the revolutionaries. Across the first four decades of the nineteenth century, Rousselin acquired a noble title, the comte de Saint-Albin, and emerged as a wealthy press baron of the liberal newspaper Le Constitutionnel. But he could not escape his past. He retired to write his own version of his legacy and to protect his family from the consequences of his actions as a terrorist during the French Revolution. Rousselin's life traces the complex twists and turns of the Revolution and demonstrates how one man was able to remake himself, from a revolutionary to a liberal, to accommodate regime change.


Introduction: A Romantic Remembers the French Revolution
Chapter 1: Education for Change, 1773-92
Chapter 2: The Making of a Terrorist, 1792-94
Chapter 3: The Consequences of Terror, 1794-96
Chapter 4: Rehabilitation: Political, Literary, and Social (1795-1815)
Chapter 5: Liberalism and the Press (1816-38)
Chapter 6: Remembering and Forgetting the French Revolution: Memories and Memoirs
Conclusion: Satisfactions and Regrets of a Life in Revolution
Appendix: Alexandre Rousselin and the Historians
Select Bibliography

About the author: 

Jeff Horn is Professor of History at Manhattan College. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including Economic Development in Early Modern France: The Privilege of Liberty, 1650-1820.

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