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Jacques René Hébert (November 15, 1757 - March 24, 1794) was editor of the extreme radical newspaper Le Père Duchesne during the French Revolution. His followers are generally referred to in English as the "Hébertists". He himself is sometimes called "Père Duchesne", after his newspaper.
Hébert's influence was mainly due to his articles in his journal Le Père Duchesne, which appeared from 1790 to 1794. These articles, while not lacking in a certain cleverness, were violent and abusive, and purposely couched in foul language in order to appeal to the mob.
Born 1757 at Alençon, Orne, where his father, who kept a goldsmith's shop, had held some municipal office. His family was ruined, however, by a lawsuit while he was still young, and Hébert came to Paris, where in his struggle against poverty he endured great hardships; the accusations of theft directed against him later by Camille Desmoulins were, however, without foundation. In 1790 he attracted attention by some pamphlets, and became a prominent member of the club of the Cordeliers in 1791. During the insurrection of August 10, 1792 he was a member of the revolutionary Commune of Paris, and became second substitute of the procureur of the Commune on December 2, 1792. His violent attacks on the Girondists led to his arrest on May 24, 1793, but he was released owing to the threatening attitude of the mob. Henceforth very popular, Hébert organized with Pierre Gaspard Chaumette the worship of Reason, in opposition to the theistic cult of the Supreme Being inaugurated by Robespierre, against whom he tried to excite a popular movement. The failure of this brought about the arrest of the Hébertists, or enragés, as his partisans were called.
Hébert and his immediate followers, though certainly not all his sympathizers, were guillotined March 24, 1794, among the few to fall afoul of the Maximilien Robespierre and the Committee of Public Safety for an excess of zeal rather than for any accusations of counter-revolutionary activity. His wife, who had been a nun, was executed twenty days later.
ReferencesPlease update as needed.
The 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, in turn, gives the following references:
- Louis Duval, "Hébert chez lui", in La Revolution Francaise, revue d'histoire moderne et contemporaine, t. xii. and t. xiii.
- D. Mater, J. R. Hibert, L'auteur du Père Duchesne avant la journee du 10 août 1792 (Bourges, Comm. Hist. du Cher, 1888)
- F. A. Aulard, Le Culte de la raison et de l'etre supreme (Paris, 1892).
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