Aristocrats, Republicans, and Cannibals: American Reactions to French Women in Violence

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Virginia Tech


This thesis discusses the reactions of American newspapers and elite individuals to French women in violence as perpetrators and victims during the French Revolution. Canvassing the years between 1789 and 1799, it includes papers, especially politically aligned ones, from across the states of America and attempts to assess the prescriptive nature of various reports. In includes case studies of common/working-class women, aristocratic revolutionaries (Charlotte Corday and Madame Roland), and Queen Marie Antoinette. Using newspapers with and without political affiliations, to either the Federalist or Democratic-Republican Party, it argues that the dividing ideological lines between these factions were not as steadfast and rigid as previously believed during this period. Though papers and individuals did adhere to party lines, their opinions toward women in violence were affected by other factors, such as their ideologies about violence. Building on historiographies of colonial and revolutionary American attitudes toward women in violence, gender ideology in the early Republic, and political parties in the 1790s, it seeks to illuminate American views toward women in violence during the years of the early Republic.



French Revolution, Women, Gender, newspapers, 19th century, Early Republic America