1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau, Louis Michel

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LE PELETIER (or Lepelletier), DE SAINT-FARGEAU, LOUIS MICHEL (1760–1793), French politician, was born on the 29th of May 1760 at Paris. He belonged to a well-known family, his great-grandfather, Michel Robert Le Peletier des Forts, count of Saint-Fargeau, having been controller-general of finance. He inherited a great fortune, and soon became president of the parlement of Paris and in 1789 he was a deputy of the noblesse to the States-General. At this time he shared the conservative views of the majority of his class; but by slow degrees his ideas changed and became very advanced. On the 13th of July 1789 he demanded the recall of Necker, whose dismissal by the king had aroused great excitement in Paris; and in the Constituent Assembly he had moved the abolition of the penalty of death, of the galleys and of branding, and the substitution of beheading for hanging. This attitude won him great popularity, and on the 21st of June 1790 he was made president of the Constituent Assembly. During the existence of the Legislative Assembly, he was president of the general council for the department of the Yonne, and was afterwards elected by this department as a deputy to the Convention. Here he was in favour of the trial of Louis XVI. by the assembly and voted for the death of the king. This vote, together with his ideas in general, won him the hatred of the royalists, and on the 20th of January 1793, the eve of the execution of the king, he was assassinated in the Palais Royal at Paris by a member of the king’s body-guard. The Convention honoured Le Peletier by a magnificent funeral, and the painter J. L. David represented his death in a famous picture, which was later destroyed by his daughter. Towards the end of his life, Le Peletier had interested himself in the question of public education; he left fragments of a plan, the ideas contained in which were borrowed in later schemes. His assassin fled to Normandy, where, on the point of being discovered, he blew out his brains. Le Peletier had a brother, Félix (1769–1837), well known for his advanced ideas. His daughter, Suzanne Louise, was “adopted” by the French nation.

See Œuvres de M. le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau (Brussels, 1826) with a life by his brother Félix; E. Le Blant, “Le Peletier de St-Fargeau, et son meurtrier,” in the Correspondant review (1874); F. Clerembray, Épisodes de la Révolution (Rouen, 1891); Brette, “La Réforme de la législation universelle, et le plan de Lepelletier Saint-Fargeau,” in La Révolution française, xlii. (1902); and M. Tourneux, Bibliog. de l’hist. de Paris ... (vol. i., 1890, Nos. 3896–3910, and vol. iv., 1906, s.v. Lepeletier).