The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 54, July 1950 - April, 1951 Page: 512
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Robespierre and the Paris sections. It is the author's contention
that had Vergniaud been able to rally the Girondin faction under
his leadership and to effect a coalition with Danton the revolu-
tion might have been saved from the rigors of the Reign of Terror
and the consequent Napoleonic dictatorship. The author goes to
some pains to defend Vergniaud against the charges of slothful-
ness and indifference made by his contemporaries and elaborates
in detail the tenuous relationships existing between him and
Claud Bowers, who will be remembered for his biography of
Thomas Jefferson, sees a parallel between Jefferson and Vergniaud
in regard to their political theories and the roles played by each
in the revolutions of their time. He notes that Vergniaud was the
spokesman of moderation and the defender of individual liberties
against arbitrary power. For these and other reasons he considers
Vergniaud, although unsuccessful in his political strategy, to have
been the representative of the initial intentions of the French
Revolution and expressive of the mind of the bulk of the French
people in counterdistinction to the Paris mob.
In writing this book the author has made extensive use of the
French archives, the Library of Congress, and the Bibloteca Na-
cional of Santiago, Chile, and has unearthed some new and in-
teresting documents on the personal life of Vergniaud. He relies,
however, in the bulk of his book on the published speeches of
Vergniaud, particularly those given in the National Assembly.
Although the book contributes nothing new to the general po-
litical history of the revolution, it does serve to place Vergniaud
in a better perspective than previous works have done. The
techniques of "the big lie," mass meetings, and intimidation of
the legislature by the mob, which were to become characteristic
of the modern totalitarian tactics, are shown to have been em-
ployed by Robespierre against the moderates and the duly elected
delegates of the people of France. To this extent the book points
out the ineffectiveness of men of good will in the face of dema-
gogues bent on rousing the masses as a means of enhancing their
own personal power. The book thus contains an admonition and
a warning to liberal democrats, the significance of which cannot
be lost upon today's generation.
H. MALCOLM MACDONALD
The University of Texas
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 54, July 1950 - April, 1951, periodical, 1951; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101133/m1/664/: accessed June 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.