Abstract

This article discusses the question of accountability after the Terror through a close analysis of the case of Joseph Le Bon, a public official who was put on trial for his role in the repression. This trial has often been seen as reactionary in essence. In contrast, this article argues that it derived from the democratizing impulses of the French Revolution. The Revolution enshrined accountability as a fundamental principle in the new political order. After the Terror, this gave rise to an unpredictable dilemma: how to hold individuals accountable for a mass crime. The article shows how both the case against Le Bon and his defense were shaped by the same democratizing impulses. In this sense, the Thermidorian struggle with justice was continuous with the Revolution. In making its case, the article relies on the concept of transitional justice.

You do not currently have access to this content.