Committee of Public Safety


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Related to Committee of Public Safety: Reign of Terror

Committee of Public Safety:

see Reign of TerrorReign of Terror,
1793–94, period of the French Revolution characterized by a wave of executions of presumed enemies of the state. Directed by the Committee of Public Safety, the Revolutionary government's Terror was essentially a war dictatorship, instituted to rule the
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Committee of Public Safety

 

(Le Comité de Salut Public), the ruling body of the Jacobin dictatorship during the Great French Revolution.

The Committee of Public Safety was established on Apr. 6, 1793, to supervise the ministers and to take defensive measures against external and domestic foes in emergency situations. It was elected by the Convention. At first the committee was made up of deputies who were followers of G. J. Danton, who occupied the leading position in the committee. When the Jacobins came to power, the Committee of Public Safety was reelected on July 10, 1793. Danton, who favored compromise with the Girondins, and his adherents were excluded from the committee. The leading role was assumed by Jacobins close to M. Robespierre, including L. A. Saint-Just and G. Couthon.

On July 27, 1793, Robespierre was elected to the committee and became its de facto leader. L. Carnot, J. M. Collot d’Her-bois, and J.-N. Billaud-Varenne also became members of the Committee.

In the autumn of 1793 the committee took over the leadership of all aspects of state and political activity. All bodies of state authority, including the military, were in practice subordinate to it. The Committee of Public Safety became the most effective and awesome organ of the revolution. It organized the forces of the people for the struggle against external and domestic counterrevolution. The crisis in the Jacobin dictatorship and inner discord within the Committee of Public Safety became apparent in the spring of 1794 and led in June to open conflict between Robespierre and his opponents. After the counterrevolutionary Thermidorian Reaction of July 1794, the committee was stripped of its former rights and lost its importance. It ceased to exist under the Constitution of the Year III, which was introduced on Oct. 26, 1795.

REFERENCES

Bouloiseau, M. “Komitet obshchestvennogo spaseniia.” (Translated from French.) In the collection Frantsuzskii ezhegodnik: 1966. Moscow, 1967.
Castelnau, J. Le Comité de salut public, 1793–1794. [Paris, 1941.]
Bouloiseau, M. Le Comité de salut public (1793–1795). Paris, 1962.

A. Z. MANFRED

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