Georges Jacques DANTON

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Figure of the French Revolution

FrenchBorn Georges Jacques DANTON

Leading figure in the early stages of the French Revolution and the first President of the Committee of Public Safety

Born on October 26, 1759 in Arcis-sur-Aube, France , France

Died on April 05, 1794 in Paris, France

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Danton was born at Arcis-sur-Aube in northeastern France, to a respectable though not wealthy family. He was given a good education, and he was launched in the career of an Advocate in Paris.

Danton's first appearance in the Revolution was as president of the Cordeliers club, whose name derived from the former convent of the Order of Cordeliers, where it met. One of many clubs important in the early phases of the Revolution, the Cordeliers was a centre for the "popular principle", that France was to be a country of its people under popular sovereignty; they were the earliest to accuse the royal court of being irreconcilably hostile to freedom; and they most vehemently proclaimed the need for radical action.


Danton was involved in the storming of the Bastille and the forcible removal of the court from Versailles to the Tuileries. In spring of 1790 he supported the arrest of Jean-Paul Marat. That autumn he was selected as commander of his district battalion of the National Guard. In the beginning of 1791 he was elected administrator of the département of Paris.

In June 1791, the King and Queen made a disastrous attempt to flee from the capital. They were forced to return to the Tuileries Palace, which effectively became their prison. The popular reaction was intense, and those who favored a constitutional monarchy, of whom the leader was Lafayette, became excited. A bloody dispersion of a popular gathering, known as the massacre of the Champ de Mars (July 1791), kindled resentment against the court and the constitutional party.

The National Constituent Assembly completed its work in September 1791. Danton was not elected to its successor, the short-lived Legislative Assembly, and his party was only able to procure for him a subordinate post in the Paris Commune.

In April 1792, the Girondist government—still functioning as a constitutional monarchy—declared war against Austria. A country in turmoil from the immense civil and political changes of the past two years now faced war with an enemy on its eastern frontier. Parisian distrust for the court turned to open insurrection. On 10 August 1792, the popular forces marched on the Tuileries; the king and queen took refuge with the Legislative Assembly. Danton's role in this uprising is unclear. He may have been at its head; this view is supported because on the morning after the effective fall of the monarchy, Danton became minister of justice. This sudden rise from the subordinate office which he held in the commune is a demonstration of his power within the insurrectionary party.

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Geographical origins

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