A political sect that sprang up in the beginning of the French Revolution, and which have origin to the Jacobin clubs, so well known as having been the places where the leaders of the Revolution concocted their plans for the abolition of the monarchy and the aristocracy. Lieber says that it is a most surprising phenomenon that "so large a body of men could be found uniting rare energy with execrable vice, political madness, and outrageous cruelty, committed always in the name of virtue." Barruel, in his History de Jacobinisme, and Robinson, in his Proofs of a Conspiracy, both endeavor to prove that there was a coalition of the revolutionary conspirators with the Illuminati and the Freemasons which formed the Jacobin Clubs, those Bodies being, as they contend, only Masonic Lodges in disguise.
The falsity of these charges will be evident to anyone who reads the history of French Freemasonry during the Revolution, and more especially during that part of the period known as the Reign of Terror, when the Jacobin Clubs were in most vigor. The Grand Orient, in 1788, declared that a politico-Masonic work, entitled Les Jesuites chasses de la Maconnerie et leur Poignard brise par les Macons, meaning The Jesuits driven from Freemasonry and their weapon broken by the Freemasons, was the production of a perverse mind, prepared as a poison for the destruction of Freemasonry, and ordered it to be burned. During the Revolution, the Grand Orient suspended its labors, and the Lodges in France were dissolved; and in 1793, the Duke of Orleans, the head of the Jacobins, who was also, unfortunately, Grand Master of the French Freemasons, resigned the latter position, assigning as a reason that he did not believe that there should be any mystery nor any Secret Society in a Republic. It is evident that the Freemasons, as an Order, held themselves aloof from the political contests of that period.
- Source: Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry