List of Presidents of the National Convention

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National Convention
Convention nationale
French First Republic
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Autel de la Convention nationale or
Autel républicain
François-Léon Sicard
Panthéon de Paris, France, 1913
Type
Type
History
Established 20 September 1792
Disbanded 2 November 1795
Preceded by Legislative Assembly
Succeeded by Directory Executive branch
Council of Ancients (upper house)
Council of Five Hundred (lower house)
Structure
Seats 749
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Political groups
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Tuileries Palace, Paris
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From 22 September 1792 to 2 November 1795, the French Republic was governed by the National Convention, whose president (elected from within for a 14-day term) may be considered as France's legitimate Head of State during this period. Historians generally divide the Convention's activities into three periods, moderate, radical, and reaction, and the policies of presidents of the Convention reflect these distinctions, during the radical and reaction phases, some of the presidents were executed, most by guillotine, committed suicide, or were deported. In addition, some of the presidents were later deported during the Bourbon Restoration in 1815.

Establishment of the Convention[edit]

The National Convention governed France from 20 September 1792 until 26 October 1795 during the most critical period of the French Revolution, the election of the National Convention took place in September 1792 after the election of the electoral colleges by primary regional assemblies on 26 August. Owing to the abstention of aristocrats and the anti-republicans, and the general fear of victimization, the voter turnout in the departments was low – as little as 7.5 percent or as much as 11.9% of the electorate, compared to 10.2% in the 1791 elections, despite the doubling of the number of eligible voters.[1]

Initially elected to provide a new constitution after the overthrow of the monarchy on 10 August 1792, the Convention included 749 deputies drawn from businesses and trades, and from such professions as law, journalism, medicine, and the clergy, among its earliest acts was the formal abolition of the monarchy, through Proclamation, on 21 September, and the subsequent establishment of the Republic on 22 September. The French Republican Calendar discarded all Christian reference points and calculated time from the Republic's first full day after the monarchy – 22 September 1792, the first day of Year One.[2][3]

According to its own rules, the Convention elected its President every fortnight (two weeks), he was eligible for re-election after the lapse of a fortnight. Ordinarily the sessions were held in the morning, but evening sessions also occurred frequently, often extending late into the night; in exceptional circumstances, the Convention declared itself in permanent session and sat for several days without interruption. For both legislative and administrative deliberations, the Convention used committees, with powers more or less widely extended and regulated by successive laws,[4] the most famous of these committees included the Committee of Public Safety and the Committee of General Security.[3]

The Convention held both legislative and executive powers during the first years of the French First Republic and had three distinct periods: Girondins (moderate), Montagnard (radical) and Thermidorian (reaction). The Montagnards favored granting the poorer classes more political power; the Girondins favored a bourgeois republic and wanted to reduce the power and influence of Paris over the course of the revolution. A popular uprising in Paris helped to purge the Convention of the Girondins between 31 May and 2 June 1793;[3] the last of the Girondins served as presidents in late July.[5]

In its second phase, the Montagnards controlled the convention (June 1793 to July 1794). War and an internal rebellion convinced the revolutionary government to establish a Committee of Public Safety which exercised near dictatorial power. Consequently, the democratic constitution, approved by the convention on 24 June 1793, did not go into effect and the Convention lost its legislative initiative,[3] the rise of Mountaineers (Montagnards) corresponded with the decline of the Girondins. The Girondin party had hesitated on the correct course of action to take with Louis XVI after his attempt to flee France on 20 June 1791, some elements of the Girondin party believed they could use the king as figurehead. While the Girondins hesitated, the Montagnards took a united stand during the trial in December 1792 – January 1793 and favored the king’s execution.[6] Riding on this victory, the Montagnards then sought to discredit the Girondins using tactics previously used against themselves, denouncing the Girondins as liars and enemies of the Revolution,[7] the last quarter of the year was marked by the Reign of Terror (5 September 1793 – 28 July 1794),[8] also known as The Terror (French: la Terreur), a period of violence incited by conflict between these rival political factions, the Girondins and the Jacobins, and marked by mass executions of "enemies of the revolution". The death toll ranged in the tens of thousands, with 16,594 executed by guillotine (2,639 in Paris),[7] and another 25,000 in summary executions across France.[9] Most of the Parisian victims of the guillotine filled the Madeleine, Mosseaux (also called Errancis), and Picpus cemeteries.[10]

In the third phase, called Thermidor after the month in which it began, many of the members of the Convention overthrew the most prominent member of the committee, Maximilien Robespiere, this reaction to the radical influence of the Committee of Public Safety reestablished the balance of power in the hands of the moderate deputies. The Girondins who had survived the 1793 purge were recalled and the leading Montagnards were themselves purged, and many executed; in August 1795, the Convention approved the Constitution for the regime that replaced it, the bourgeois-dominated Directory, which exercised power from 1795 to 1799, when a coup d'etat by Napoleon Bonaparte overthrew it.[3]

Moderate Phase: September 1792 – June 1793[edit]

Initially, La Marais, or The Plain, a moderate, amorphous group, controlled the Convention, at the first session, held on 20 September 1792, the elder statesman Philippe Rühl presided over the session. The following day, amidst profound silence, the proposition was put to the assembly, "That royalty be abolished in France"; it carried, with cheers. On the 22nd came the news of the Republic's victory at the Battle of Valmy, on the same day, the Convention decreed that "in future, the acts of the assembly shall be dated First Year of the French Republic". Three days later, the Convention added the corollary of "the French republic is one and indivisible", to guard against federalism.[11]

The following men were elected for two-week terms as Presidents, or executives, of the Convention.[12]

Image Dates Name Fate
AduC 150 Ruhl (P.J., 1737-1795).JPG 20 September 1792 Philippe Rühl Suicide, 29/30 May 1795
Jérôme Pétion de Villeneuve.jpg 20 September 1792  – 4 October 1792 Jérôme Pétion de Villeneuve Botched suicide, guillotined 18 June 1794
AduC 139 Lacroix (J.F. de, 1754-1794).JPG 4 October 1792  – 18 October 1792 Jean-François Delacroix Guillotined with Georges Danton, 5 April 1794
E. Guadet.jpg 18 October 1792  – 1 November 1792 Marguerite-Élie Guadet Guillotined 17 June 1794
Marie-Jean Hérault de Séchelles, conventionnel by Jean-Louis Laneuville (Carnavalet P 2539) 02.jpg 1 November 1792  – 15 November 1792 Marie-Jean Hérault de Séchelles Guillotined with Georges Danton, 5 April 1794
Gregoire.jpg 15 November 1792  – 29 November 1792 Henri Grégoire Died 28 May 1831
Barere.jpg 29 November 1792 – 13 December 1792 Bertrand Barère de Vieuzac Died 13 January 1841
portrait of Jacques defermon 13 December 1792  – 27 December 1792 Jacques Defermon des Chapelieres 20 June 1831
Jean-Baptiste Treilhard 1742-1810.jpg 27 December 1792  – 10 January 1793 Jean-Baptiste Treilhard Died 1 December 1810
Pierre Vergniaud.jpg 10 January 1793  – 24 January 1793 Pierre Victurnien Vergniaud 31 October 1793, guillotined.
Jean-PaulRabautSaint-Etienne.jpg 24 January 1793  – 7 February 1793 Jean-Paul Rabaut Saint-Étienne 5 December 1793, guillotined
7 February 1793  – 21 February 1793 Jean-Jacques Bréard, dit Bréard-Duplessis 2 January 1840
Dubois-Crancé.jpg 21 February 1793  – 7 March 1793 Edmond Louis Alexis Dubois-Crancé 29 June 1814
Armand Gensonné IMG 2447.JPG 7 March 1793  – 21 March 1793 Armand Gensonné 31 October 1793, guillotined
AduC 240 Debry (A.J., 1766-1834).JPG 21 March 1793  – 4 April 1793 Jean Antoine Joseph Debry 6 January 1834, Paris
4 April 1793  – 18 April 1793 Jean-François-Bertrand Delmas Disappeared 19 August 1798[Notes 1]
18 April 1793  – 2 May 1793 Marc David Alba Lasource 31 October 1793, guillotined with the Girondists
Boyer-Fonfrède, Jean-Baptiste.JPG 2 May 1793  – 16 May 1793 Jean-Baptiste Boyer-Fonfrède 31 October 1793, guillotined
Isnard.jpg 16 May 1793  – 30 May 1793 Maximin Isnard 12 March 1825
30 May 1793  – 13 June 1793 François-René-Auguste Mallarmé 25 July 1835

At the end of May 1793, an uprising of the Parisian sans culottes, the day-laborers and working class, undermined much of the authority of the moderate Girondins,[13] at this point, although Danton and Hérault de Séchelles both served one more term each as Presidents of the Convention, the Girondins had lost control of the Convention: in June and July compromise after compromise changed the course of the revolution from a bourgeois event to a radical, working class event. Price controls were introduced and a minimum wage guaranteed to workers and soldiers, over the course of the summer, the government became truly revolutionary.[14]

Radical phase: June 1793 – July 1794[edit]

After the insurrection, any attempted resistance to revolutionary ideals was crushed, the insurrection of 31 May – 2 June 1793 marked a significant milestone in the history of the French Revolution. The days of 31 May – 2 June (French: journées) resulted in the fall of the Girondin party under pressure of the Parisian sans-culottes, Jacobins of the clubs, and Montagnards in the National Convention. The following men were elected as presidents of the Convention during its transition from its moderate to radical phase.[5]

Image Dates Name Fate
Collot-portrait-Carnavalet.JPG 13 June 1793  – 27 June 1793 Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois 8 June 1796, deported to French Guiana, died of yellow fever
27 June 1793  – 11 July 1793 Jacques Alexis Thuriot de la Rosière 20 June 1829, died in exile
Jeanbon St. André 1795 portrait by Jacques-Louis David.jpeg 11 July 1793  – 25 July 1793 Andre Jeanbon Saint Andre 10 December 1813
Georges Danton.jpg 25 July 1793  – 8 August 1793 Georges Jacques Danton A moderate guillotined by the radicals, 5 April 1794
Jean-Lous Laneuville - Marie-Jean Hérault de Séchelles.JPG 8 August 1793  – 22 August 1793 Marie-Jean Hérault de Séchelles Guillotined with Georges Danton, 5 April 1794

The following men were elected as presidents of the Convention during its radical phase.[5]

Image Dates Name Fate
Robespierre.jpg 22 August 1793  – 5 September 1793 Maximilien Robespierre 28 July 1794, guillotined during the Reaction
Billaud-Varenne.jpg 5 September 1793  – 19 September 1793 Jacques Nicolas Billaud-Varenne 3 June 1819
Pierre-joseph-cambon-estampe.jpg 19 September 1793  – 3 October 1793 Pierre Joseph Cambon 15 February 1820
3 October 1793  – 22 October 1793 Louis-Joseph Charlier 23 February 1797
22 October 1793  – 6 November 1793 Moïse Antoine Pierre Jean Bayle 1812 or 1815
6 November 1793  – 21 November 1793 Pierre-Antoine Lalloy 16 March 1846
Charles-Gilbert Romme.png 21 November 1793  – 6 December 1793 Charles-Gilbert Romme 17 June 1795, suicide prior to guillotine
6 December 1793  – 21 December 1793 Jean-Henri Voulland 23 February 1801
Georges Couthon by François Bonneville.png 21 December 1793 – 5 January 1794 Georges Auguste Couthon 28 July 1794, guillotined during the Reaction
One of the few members of La Marais to be elected President
David Self Portrait.jpg 5 January 1794  – 20 January 1794 Jacques-Louis David 29 December 1825
Marc-Guillaume Alexis Vadier (1736-1828), French revolutionary (small).jpg 20 January 1794  – 4 February 1794 Marc Guillaume Alexis Vadier 14 December 1828
4 February 1794  – 19 February 1794 Joseph-Nicolas Barbeau du Barran 16 May 1816, exiled in Switzerland during Bourbon Restoration
Saint-Just-French anon-MBA Lyon 1955-2-IMG 0450.jpg 19 February 1794  – 6 March 1794 Louis Antoine de Saint-Just 28 July 1794, guillotine during Reaction
7 March 1794  – 21 March 1794 Philippe Rühl 29/30 May 1795, suicide
Jean Lambert Tallien.JPG 21 March 1794  – 5 April 1794 Jean-Lambert Tallien 16 November 1820
5 April 1794  – 20 April 1794 Jean-Baptiste-André Amar 21 December 1816
Robert-lindet.jpg 20 April 1794  – 5 May 1794 Robert Lindet 17 February 1825
Sadi Carnot.jpg 5 May 1794  – 20 May 1794 Lazare Carnot 2 August 1823
Prieur-duvernois.jpg 20 May 1794  – 4 June 1794 Claude-Antoine Prieur-Duvernois 11 August 1832
Robespierre.jpg 4 June 1794  – 19 June 1794 Maximilien Robespierre 28 July 1794, guillotined during the Reaction
19 June 1794  – 5 July 1794 Élie Lacoste 26 November 1806
5 July 1794  – 19 July 1794 Jean-Antoine Louis, also called Louis du Bas-Rhin

Reaction: July 1794–1795[edit]

On 27 July 1794, the National Convention voted for the arrest of Maximilien Robespierre, Louis Antoine de Saint-Just, and several allies, and they were executed the following day, this ended the most radical phase of the French Revolution.[15][Notes 2]

The following men were presidents of the Convention until its end.[5]

Image Dates Name DOD/Fate
Jean Marie Collot d'Herbois.jpg 19 July 1794  – 3 August 1794 Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois 8 June 1796
Merlin de Douai.png 3 August 1794  – 18 August 1794 Philippe Antoine Merlin, dit Merlin de Douai 26 December 1838
18 August 1794  – 2 September 1794 Antoine Merlin de Thionville 14 September 1833
Bernard, André Antoine.jpg 2 September 1794  – 22 September 1794 André Antoine Bernard, dit Bernard de Saintes 19 October 1818
22 September 1794  – 7 October 1794 André Dumont 19 October 1838
Maurin - Cambaceres.png 7 October 1794  – 22 October 1794 Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès 8 March 1824
One of the few members of La Marais to be elected President
Authored Napoleon's Civil Code
Prieur.png 22 October 1794  – 6 November 1794 Pierre-Louis Prieur, dit Prieur de la Marne 31 May 1827
Louis Legendre.jpg 6 November 1794  – 24 November 1794 Louis Legendre 13 December 1797, died of natural causes (dementia)
24 November 1794  – 6 December 1794 Jean-Baptiste Clauzel
Rewbell1.jpg 6 December 1794  – 21 December 1794 Jean-François Reubell 23 November 1807
21 December 1794  – 6 January 1795 Pierre-Louis Bentabole 1797
Charles-Louis François Letourneur--Jean-Baptiste-François Désoria IMG 2312.JPG 6 January 1795  – 20 January 1795 Étienne-François Le Tourneur 4 October 1817
AduC 112 Rovère (J.S., 1744-1798).JPG 20 January 1795  – 4 February 1795 Stanislas Joseph François Xavier Rovère died in 1798 in French Guiana
Paul Barras directeur.jpg 4 February 1795  – 19 February 1795 Paul Barras 29 January 1829
AduC 053 Bourdon (F.L.,1758-1797).JPG 19 February 1795  – 6 March 1795 François Louis Bourdon 22 June 1798, after being deported to French Guiana
AduC 149 Thibaudeau (A.C., 1765-1854).JPG 6 March 1795  – 24 March 1795 Antoine Claire Thibaudeau 8 March 1854
Jean Pelet de la Lozère (1759-1842).jpg 24 March 1795  – 5 April 1795 Jean Pelet, also Pelet de la Lozère 26 January 1842
François Boissy d-Anglas.jpg 5 April 1795  – 20 April 1795 François-Antoine de Boissy d'Anglas 1828
One of the few members of La Marais to be elected President
Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès - crop.jpg 20 April 1795  – 5 May 1795 Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès 20 June 1836
One of the few members of La Marais to be elected President
Théodore Vernier.jpg 5 May 1795  – 26 May 1795 Théodore Vernier
26 May 1795  – 4 June 1795 Jean-Baptiste Charles Matthieu
Profil de Jean-Denis Lanjuinais.png 4 June 1795  – 19 June 1795 Jean Denis, comte Lanjuinais died in 1828 in Paris
Jean-Baptiste Louvet de Courvray.jpg 19 June 1795  – 4 July 1795 Jean-Baptiste Louvet de Couvray 25 August 1797
Louis-Gustave Doulcet de Pontécoulant.jpg 4 July 1795  – 19 July 1795 Louis-Gustave Doulcet de Pontécoulant 17 November 1764 – 3 April 1853
Louis-Marie de La Révellière-Lépeaux par Gérard.jpg 19 July 1795  – 3 August 1795 Louis-Marie de La Révellière-Lépeaux 24 March 1824
AduC 258 Daunou (P.C.F., 1761-1840).JPG 3 August 1795  – 19 August 1795 Pierre Claude François Daunou 20 June 1840
Marie-Joseph Chénier.jpg 19 August 1795  – 2 September 1795 Marie-Joseph Chénier 10 January 1811
2 September 1795  – 23 September 1795 Théophile Berlier 12 September 1844
23 September 1795  – 8 October 1795 Pierre-Charles-Louis Baudin 1799
8 October 1795  – 26 October 1795 Jean Joseph Victor Génissieu 27 October 1804

Successor organization[edit]

The Directory (French: Directoire) was the government of France following the collapse of the National Convention in late 1795. Administered by a collective leadership of five directors, it preceded the Consulate established in a coup d'etat by Napoleon, it lasted from 2 November 1795 until 10 November 1799, a period commonly known as the "Directory era". The directory operated with a bicameral structure. A Council of the Ancients, selected by lot, named the directors, for its own security, the Left (whose members dominated the Council) resolved that all five must be old members of the Convention and regicides who had voted to execute King Louis XVI. The Ancients chose Jean-François Rewbell; Paul François Jean Nicolas, vicomte de Barras; Louis Marie de La Révellière-Lépeaux; Lazare Nicolas Marguerite Carnot; and Étienne-François Le Tourneur.[5]

See also[edit]

Notes, citations and sources[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ From 9 Apr 1793 to 18 Apr 1793 the functions of president were exercised by vice-president Jacques-Alexis Thuriot de la Rosière. He was elected president in his own right for the fortnight 27 June 1793  – 11 July 1793
  2. ^ The name Thermidorian refers to 9 Thermidor Year II (27 July 1794), the date according to the French Revolutionary Calendar when Robespierre and other radical revolutionaries came under concerted attack in the National Convention. Thermidorian Reaction also refers to the remaining period until the National Convention was superseded by the Directory; this is also sometimes called the era of the Thermidorian Convention. Prominent figures of Thermidor include Paul Barras, Jean-Lambert Tallien, and Joseph Fouché. Neely, pp. 225–227.

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ William Doyle, The Oxford History of the French Revolution, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press, 1990, here. See also Frank E. Smitha, Macrohistory: Fear, Overreaction and War (1792–93). 2009–2015 version. Accessed 21 April 2015.
  2. ^ Doyle, p. 194.
  3. ^ a b c d e Editors, National Convention, The Encyclopædia Britannica, 2015, Accessed 22 April 2014.
  4. ^ Roger Dupuy, La République jacobine. Terreur, guerre et gouvernement révolutionnaire (1792—1794). Paris, Le Seuil, 2005, pp. 28–34.
  5. ^ a b c d e Pierre-Dominique Cheynet, France: Members of the Executive Directory: 1793–1795, Archontology.org 2013, Accessed 19 February 2015.
  6. ^ Jeremy D. Popkin, A Short History of the French Revolution, 5th ed. Pearson, 2009, pp. 72–77.
  7. ^ a b Marisa Linton, Choosing Terror: Virtue, Friendship, and Authenticity in the French Revolution. (Oxford U.P., 2013), 174–75.
  8. ^ Terror, Reign of; Encyclopædia Britannica
  9. ^ Donald Greer, The Incidence of the Terror during the French Revolution: A Statistical Interpretation, Cambridge (United States C.A), Harvard University Press, 1935
  10. ^ Hector Fleischmann, Behind the Scenes in the Terror, Brentano's, 1915, pp. 129. and (in French) Garnier, Jean-Claude Garnier; Jean-Pierre Mohen. Cimetières autour du monde : Un désir d'éternité. Editions Errance. 2003, p. 191.
  11. ^ J.M.Thompson, The French Revolution. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1959, p. 315.
  12. ^ Pierre-Dominique Cheynet, France: Members of the Executive Directory: 1791–1792, Archontology.org 2013, Accessed 19 February 2015.
  13. ^ François Furet, The French Revolution: 1770–1814, Oxford, Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 1996, p. 127.
  14. ^ Thompson, p. 370.
  15. ^ Sylvia Neely, A Concise History of the French Revolution, NY, Rowman & Littlefield, 2008, pp. 225–227.

Sources[edit]

  • Editors, "National Convention" and "Reign of Terror." The Encyclopædia Britannica, 2015, Accessed 22 April 2014.
  • Alderson, Robert. This Bright Era of Happy Revolutions: French Consul. U. of South Carolina Press, 2008. OCLC 192109705
  • Doyle, William. The Oxford History of the French Revolution. 2nd edition. Oxford University Press, 2002. OCLC 490913480
  • Cheynet, Pierre-Dominique. France: Members of the Executive Directory: 1792–1793, and 1793–1795. Archontology.org 2013, Accessed 19 February 2015.
  • (in French) Dupuy, Roger. La République jacobine. Terreur, guerre et gouvernement révolutionnaire (1792—1794). Paris, Le Seuil, 2005. ISBN 2-02-039818-4
  • Furet, François. The French Revolution: 1770–1814. Oxford, Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 1996. OCLC 25094935
  • Fleischmann, Hector, Behind the Scenes in the Terror, NY, Brentano's, 1915. OCLC 499613
  • (in French) Garnier, Jean-Claude; Jean-Pierre Mohen. Cimetières autour du monde: Un désir d'éternité. Paris, Editions Errance. 2003. OCLC 417420035
  • Greer, Donald. The Incidence of the Terror during the French Revolution: A Statistical Interpretation. Cambridge (United States C.A), Harvard University Press, 1951. OCLC 403511
  • Linton, Marisa. Choosing Terror: Virtue, Friendship, and Authenticity in the French Revolution Oxford U.P., 2013. OCLC 829055558
  • Neeley, Sylvia. A Concise History of the French Revolution, Lanham, Rowman & Littlefield, 2008. OCLC 156874791
  • Popkin, Jeremy D. A Short History of the French Revolution. 5th ed. Upper Saddle River, Pearson, 2009. OCLC 36739547
  • Smitha, Frank E. Macrohistory: Fear, Overreaction and War (1792–93). 2009–2015 version. Accessed 21 April 2015.
  • Thompson, J.M. The French Revolution. Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1959. OCLC 1052771