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Antoine Francois Momoro: "First Printer of National Liberty", 1756-1794

  • Author(s): Phelan, Grace M.
  • Advisor(s): Beecher, Jonathan
  • et al.

Antoine François Momoro (1756-1794) appears in historiographies of the French Revolution, in the history of printing and typography and in the history of work during the eighteenth century. Historians of the 1789 Revolution have often defined Momoro as either a sans-culottes or spokesman for the sans-culottes. Marxist historians and thinkers defined Momoro as an early socialist thinker for his controversial views on price fixing and private property. In the history of printing, Momoro's two treatises on printing and imposition are considered with varying degrees of significance, while Momoro's legacy as a printer and typographer remains nearly undisputed over the past two centuries. Momoro was in fact all of these things -- sans culottes, socialist, author, printer and typographer -- to a degree. This dissertation asserts that as a historical figure Momoro should be remembered precisely for the tension between his desires to maintain traditional standards in printing and his intense advocacy of the eradication of aristocratic privilege. My dissertation examines Momoro's evolution into the "First Printer of National Liberty" during the first months of relative press freedom in August 1789 and charts his increased political participation in radical political circles in Paris. It includes detailed analysis of Momoro's two printing manuals and reveals the conservative nature of his stance regarding traditional standards and practices in the trade despite his radical political views. The dissertation concludes with detailed analysis of Momoro's correspondence as Commissaire Nationale in the Vendée in 1793 as evidence of his increased radicalization and advocacy of the Terror.

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