World History 1795

About the history of the world in 1795, surgeon Mungo Park explores the Niger River, Napoleon takes the stage in France.

TWO CENTURIES OF WORLD HISTORY: 1778-1978

1795

Apr.-May A desperate scarcity of bread caused impotent mobs, now leaderless, to attempt in surrections against the Convention. The government took vigorous action against former terrorists, who were blamed for plotting these riots. In the "White Terror," which spread over France, radicals were hunted down and deported to Guiana, forced to commit suicide, or guillotined.

June 8 In the tower of the Temple the dauphin, the boy who would have been Louis XVII, died at age 10 of tuberculosis of the lymph glands. Madame Simon, wife of his jailor, asserted after 1814 that a dumb child with rickets had been substituted for the dauphin, who had been smuggled out of the prison under a pile of dirty linen on Jan.19, 1794. She had no idea what had become of him. In the 50 years following his "death." 70 pretenders (including American naturalist John James Audubon, in private letters and diaries) claimed his identity.

June 21 Scottish surgeon Mungo Park, sent by the English African Association, set out from the Gambia to explore the Niger River, which he became the first European to see. His frustrating 18-month journey included imprisonment by Arabs, near starvation, and a seven-month-long illness. In 1805 he returned to the Niger with a small expedition that ultimately perished. Before being attacked by natives and drowned at Bussa, he had paddled 1,200 mi. downstream.

Aug. 23 The Convention produced a new French constitution, providing a two-house legislature and five executives known as Directors. In order to prevent a return to the Terror or the monarchy, royalists and nonpropertied classes were excluded from power.

Oct. 5 Napoleon entered the spotlight for the first time as dissatisfaction with the new constitution provoked an insurrection by thousands of royalists, bourgeois, and mutinous detachments of the Paris National Guard. Paul Barras, commander of the army of the interior, called in the regular army and put at its head the young Corsican artillery officer who had distinguished himself against the British at Toulon. Napoleon quickly ended the rebellion with "a whiff of grapeshot."

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