July 28, 1794. Maximilien Robespierre, one of the most prominent leaders in the French Revolution and the key figurehead in Reign of Terror, is executed along with more than a dozen of his allies. Robespierre emerged as the leader of the Jacobin faction of the National Convention that served as the French parliament in the wake of the overthrow of King Louis XVI. He pushed successfully for the King’s execution at the guillotine and was elected to take charge of the Committee of Public Safety, a group formed to restore and maintain law and order in the face of post-revolution threats both at home and abroad. Known for his moralistic and revolutionary zeal, Robespierre instigated the Reign of Terror, an 11-month period in which tens of thousands of people were put to the guillotine for being ‘enemies of the revolution.’ It gave Robespierre the chance to purge his political rivals in the Girondin political faction. As the bloodshed and Robespierre’s authoritarian streak intensified however, he made more and more enemies for himself, who soon outnumbered his allies. He was arrested and, under one of his own laws, executed without trial at the guillotine.
Also on July 28: Peruvian leader Jose de San Martin declares his country’s independence from Spain (1821); In the US, the 14th amendment is adopted guaranteeing african Americans citizenship (1868); Andorra joins the UN (1993).
Born on July 28: Beatrix Potter (1866), Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1929), Luis Aragones (1938), Hugo Chavez (1954)