The Terror has often been seen as an attempt to institutionalise the violence that led to the massacre of prisoners and/or a response to a crisis situation brought about by threats to the Revolution. It was also, as the following decree shows, an integral part of the process of revolutionary government and the centralisation of the State. The Law of Suspects, along with the establishment of the Revolutionary Tribunals and Committees of Surveillance, was an important part of that machinery and the pursuit of those considered, for one reason or another, hostile to the Revolution.
Article 1. Immediately after the publication of the present decree, all suspected persons who are within the territory of the Republic and still at large shall be placed under arrest.
Article 2. The following are considered suspected persons: (1) those who, either by their conduct, relations, words or writings, have shown themselves to be partisans of tyranny, federalism and enemies of liberty; (2) those who cannot justify in the manner prescribed by the law of 21 March last [establishing Committess of Surveillance] their means of existence and their discharge of their civic duties; (3) those who have been refused certificates of patriotism; (4) public officials suspended or removed from their offices by the National Convention or its commissaries, and not reinstated, especially those who have been or shall be removed by virtue of the law of 12 August last; (5) those former nobles, including husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons or daughters, brothers or sisters, and agents of émigrés who have not constantly demonstrated their loyalty to the Revolution; (6) those who emigrated in the interval from 1 July 1789 to the publication of the law of 8 April 1792 [confiscating émigré property], although they may have returned to France in the period determined by that law or previously.