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Democratic Societies in the United States

party, clubs and french

DEMOCRATIC SOCIETIES IN THE UNITED STATES, political associations in 1793 organized on the lines of the French Jacobin (q.v.) clubs. The masses in this country sympathized with the French Revolu tion, as essentially the same with their own, and clamored for an open stand by the govern "cent on that side. Instead, the attempt of Edmond Genet (q.v.) to drag the country into an active alliance with France, forced Washing ton to proclaim neutrality. This irritated popular feeling, and made it worth while for local politicians to organize a faction on the basis of French sympathies, ignoring American questions wholly. It is curious that this basic element of the Democratic or ((people's party," which charged the Federalists with being anti national, monarchic, and a "British party," was itself the only purely foreign party ever known in the United States. In all the important towns, clubs were organized in imitation of the Jacobin clubs of France. That of Charleston openly claimed to be a branch of them and was formally recognized as such. As usual in such

cases, they mimicked ludicrously the outer semblance of their prototypes, without regard to American fitness: wore cockades and liberty caps, called each other "citizen" and "citizeness," held banquets of fraternity, etc. They were at first looked down upon by the "Republicans" or opponents of the Federalists on American questions, who accepted their votes but scorned their antics and irrelevancy; but common political opposition soon forced them into a common organism, which was called Demo cratic-Republican, still the official name of the party. Washington's denunciation of the so cieties in 1794, as having fostered the Whiskey Insurrection (q.v.), which in fact they ap proved, the atrocities of the Reign of Terror, and the final downfall of Robespierre and the Jacobin Club of Paris, perhaps equally the fact that the craze had become a bore, caused the general disappearance of the clubs or societies in 1794-95.