Club, a word of Saxon derivation, signifying a society of persons united for political, social, scientific, artistic, or literary ends, or for purposes of recreation. Clubs differ from mere associations in having some social bond, such as a place of meeting where the members associate in friendly personal intercourse. The modern English club differs considerably from those of two centuries since, which last better answered Johnson's definition of " an assembly of good fellows, meeting under certain conditions." Such was Ben Jonson's club at the "Devil Tavern." Political clubs came into existence at a later period. The King's Head club was a famous political association during the reign of Charles II. Clubs became numerous in England in the early part of the 18th century. The Brothers' club, of which Boling-broke, Harley, and Swift were members; the Hanoverian club; the Beefsteak club, presided over by Peg Woffington, the actress; and the Kit-cat club, flourished in this era. In 1735 was established the second Beefsteak club, which has embraced among its members the most eminent public men. The Literary club, established in 1764, by Johnson, Boswell, Reynolds, Goldsmith, Burke, and others, is still flourishing.
The club of the Friends of the People was established in London in 1793, for political purposes, by Lord Grey. From England the designation "political clubs" spread to similar organizations in France and other countries. They were prohibited in Germany in 1793. In France they were the focus of the revolution. The first French society that took the name of club was the club politique, established at Paris in 1782; a second was organized in 1785 under the name of the club de Boston or des Americains; and afterward the appellation of club was adopted by most political societies. The most celebrated clubs of the revolutionary period were the clubs des Jacobins, des Feuil-lants, des Bretons, des Cordeliers, de Montrouge, and des enrages. Clubs for social, literary, artistic, and political purposes are now found in every large city in the civilized world.