A distinct organized practice considered to have emerged in the second half of the nineteenth century in which the systematic use of fear or terror is used as a means of coercion against a people or government. The term was introduced through the French language, in the context of the French Revolution, as terrorisme, derived from the Latin verb terrere, meaning “to frighten.” It appeared in 1795 and it was used to characterize Jacobin rule known as the “Reign of Terror” (1793–1794), involving arrest and execution, usually by guillotine, of opponents to the revolutionary government. The term therefore was initially applied to the acts of a regime, not those of its opponents.
   In mid-nineteenth century anarchists like the Russian Mikhail Bakunin (1814–1876) and later the Italian Errico Malatesta (1853–1932) regarded the use of violence as necessary, and even moral, in the pursuit of social reform. Some Russian anarchists and nihilists, organized in secret societies, engaged constantly in acts of violence, which culminated with the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881. In Italy, too, there were several attempts to assassinate members of the royal family. In Great Britain there appeared what was to become known as “republican terrorism” - attacks organized and carried out by the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a nationalist group founded in Dublin in 1858 that called themselves Fenian Brotherhood and organized the failed Fenian Rising of 1867. The group reemerged in 1910 and then organized another revolt, also doomed, the Easter Rising of 1916. They were the precursors of the Irish Republican Army. The American counterpart of the Irish Republican Brotherhood was the Clan na Gael, founded in New York by Irish immigrants who also pursued the goal of an independent Irish republic. By 1868, they even raised an army for this purpose, made up mostly of veterans of the American Civil War. In support of the cause of Irish independence, they planned attacks on British military bases in Canada between 1866 and 1871. Other terrorist occurrences in the United States included the Haymarket Riot in Chicago in 1886; the assassination in 1901 of President William McKinley by anarchist Leon Czolgosz; and the bombing of the Los Angeles Times building in 1910, which killed 20 workers.
   Other heroes of fin-de-siècle “nationalist terrorism,” besides the Irish, were the members of the Bulgarian Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Committee, which pursued Bulgarian and Macedonian independence. It was founded by Bulgarians in 1893 in Thessaloniki, now part of Greece but then under Ottoman occupation, like Macedonia and parts of Bulgaria. The group changed its name in 1902 and again in 1906, and, since 1920, it has been known as the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary
   Organization. It was revived in the 1990s as a nationalist political party in both Macedonia and Bulgaria. It was also an act classified as terrorism that marked the end of the Age of Imperialism - the assassination of the Habsburg Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie on June 28, 1914, in Sarajevo, by Bosnian Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip, a member of both the Bosnian nationalist youth organization Young Bosnia and the Serbian nationalist secret society Black Hand .
   See also <>; Nationalism.
    Laqueur, Walter. A History of Terrorism. Somerset, NJ: Transaction, 2001;
    Sinclair, Andrew. An Anatomy of Terror: A History of Terrorism. London: Pan Macmillan, 2004.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.


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