JACQUES-RENÉ HÉBERT

(Père Duchesne)
Born: November 15, 1757, Alençon, France.
Died: March 24, 1794, Paris, France.


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Jacques-René Hébert was a political journalist and revolutionist during the French Revolution. He came from a bourgeois family, but lived in poverty after moving to Paris in 1980. A liberal thinker, he welcomed the revolution and began to write a series of political pamphlets. In November 1790 Hébert’s paper, Le Père Duchesne, first appeared. The papers were rude political satires, criticising the aristocracy, the church, and later the monarchy. Hébert used his paper to express his political demands, in particular, the call for the formation of a Revolutionary government, the death of King Louis XVI, and the abolition of the Girondins (a moderate revolutionary group). Perhaps Hébert’s most significant or influential role was that of the chief spokesperson for the Parisian sansculottes, extreme radical revolutionaries.

Hébert was an influential member of the Cordeliers Club and later the Jacobin Club. He was also elected to assistant procurator-general of the Commune (the governing body in Paris). In 1793, Hébert’s followers, known as Hébertists, organised massive demonstrations that forced the National Convention to instate a state-controlled economy and initiate the Reign of Terror, they also converted over 2,000 Roman Catholic churches into Temples of Reason. By 1794 the Committee of Public Safety regarded Hébert and the Hébertists as dangerous. On March 14, 1794, after a failed call for an uprising, Hébert was arrested by the Committee of Public Safety. Ten days later, on March 24, 1794, Hébert and 17 of his supporters were guillotined. The execution causing the Jacobin regime to loose the support of the sansculottes, contributing to the fall of Jacobin rule in July 1794.