Family tree of Jacques Pierre BRISSOT DIT DE WARVILLE

Figure of the French Revolution

FrenchBorn Jacques Pierre BRISSOT

Leading member of the Girondist movement during the French Revolution

Born on January 15, 1754 in Chartres, France , France

Died on October 31, 1793 in Paris, France

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Brissot was born at Chartres, where his father was an inn-keeper. He received an education, and entered the office of a lawyer at Paris. He married Félicité Dupont (1759-1818), who translated English works, including Oliver Goldsmith and Robert Dodsley. They lived in London, and had three children. His first works, Théorie des lois criminelles (1781) and Bibliothèque philosophique du législateur (1782), dealt with philosophy of law topics, and showed the deep influence of ethical precepts theoretised by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In the preface of Théorie des lois criminelles, Brissot explains that he submitted an outline of the book to Voltaire and quotes his answer from April 13, 1778.

Brissot became known as a writer, and was engaged on the Mercure de France, on the Courrier de l'Europe, and on other papers. Devoted to the cause of humanity, he proposed a plan for the collaboration of all European intellectuals, and started in London a paper, Journal du Lycée de Londres, which was to be the organ of their views. The plan was unsuccessful, and soon after his return to Paris Brissot was placed in the Bastille on the charge of having published a work against the government.


He obtained his release after four months, and again devoted himself to pamphleteering, but was forced to retire for a time to London. On this second visit he became acquainted with some of the leading Abolitionists, and founded later in Paris an anti-slavery group Society of the Friends of the Blacks, of which he was president during 1790 and 1791. As an agent of this society he paid a visit to the United States in 1788, and subsequently published in 1791 his Nouveau Voyage dans les États-Unis de l'Amérique septentrionale (3 vols.). Brissot believed that American ideals could help improve French government. He was fond of their foreign polices. At one point he was interested in uprooting his whole family to America.

From the outbreak of the Revolution in 1789, Brissot became one of its most vocal supporters. He edited the Patriote français from 1789 to 1793, and took a prominent part in politics. Upon the demolition of the Bastille, the keys to the fortress were presented to him. Famous for his speeches at the Jacobin Club, he was elected a member of the municipality of Paris, then of the Legislative Assembly, and later of the National Convention.

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