1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Boissy d'Anglas, François Antoine de
BOISSY D’ANGLAS, FRANÇOIS ANTOINE DE (1756–1828), French statesman, received a careful education and busied himself at first with literature. He had been a member of several provincial academies before coming to Paris, where he purchased a position as advocate to the parlement. In 1789 he was elected by the third estate of the sénéchaussée of Annonay as deputy to the states-general. He was one of those who induced the states-general to proclaim itself a National Assembly on the 17th of June 1789; approved, in several speeches, of the capture of the Bastille and of the taking of the royal family to Paris (October 1789); demanded that strict measures be taken against the royalists who were intriguing in the south of France, and published some pamphlets on finance. During the Legislative Assembly he was procureur-syndic for the directory of the department of Ardeche. Elected to the Convention, he sat in the centre, “le Marais,” voting in the trial of Louis XVI. for his detention until deportation should be judged expedient for the state. He was then sent on a mission to Lyons to investigate the frauds in connexion with the supplies of the army of the Alps. During the Terror he was one of those deputies of the centre who supported Robespierre; but he was gained over by the members of the Mountain hostile to Robespierre, and his support, along with that of some other leaders of the Marais, made possible the 9th Thermidor. He was then elected a member of the Committee of Public Safety and charged with the superintendence of the provisioning of Paris. He presented the report supporting the decree of the 3rd Ventose of the year III. which established liberty of worship. In the critical days of Germinal and of Prairial of the year III. he showed great courage. On the 12th Germinal he was in the tribune, reading a report on the food supplies, when the hall of the Convention was invaded by the rioters, and when they withdrew he quietly continued where he had been interrupted. On the 1st Prairial he presided over the Convention, and remained unmoved by the insults and menaces of the insurgents. When the head of the deputy, Jean Féraud, was presented to him on the end of a pike, he saluted it impassively. He was reporter of the committee which drew up the constitution of the year III., and his report shows keen apprehension of a return of the Reign of Terror, and presents reactionary measures as precautions against the re-establishment of “tyranny and anarchy.” This report, the proposal that he made (August 27, 1795) to lessen the severity of the revolutionary laws, and the eulogies he received from several Paris sections suspected of disloyalty to the republic, resulted in his being obliged to justify himself (October 15, 1795). As a member of the Council of the Five Hundred he became more and more suspected of royalism. He presented a measure in favour of full liberty for the press, which at that time was almost unanimously reactionary, protested against the outlawry of returned émigrés, spoke in favour of the deported priests and attacked the Directory. Accordingly he was proscribed on the 18th Fructidor, and lived in England until the Consulate. In 1801 he was made a member of the Tribunate, and in 1805 a senator. In 1814 he voted for Napoleon’s abdication, which won for him a seat in the chamber of peers; but during the Hundred Days he served Napoleon, and in consequence, on the second Restoration, was for a short while excluded. In the chamber he still sought to obtain liberty for the press—a theme upon which he published a volume of his speeches (Paris, 1817). He was a member of the Institute from its foundation, and in 1816, at the reorganization, became a member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres. He published in 1819–1821 a two-volume Essai sur la vie et les opinions de M. de Malesherbes.
See F. A. Aulard, Les Orateurs de la Révolution (2nd ed., 1906); L. Sciout, Le Directoire (4 vols., 1895); and the “Notice sur la vie et les œuvres de M. Boissy d’Anglas” in the Mémoires de l’Académie des Inscriptions, ix. (R. A.*)
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