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Louis Antoine de Saint-Just
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    (August 25, 1767-July 28, 1794)
    Born in Decize, France
    Wrote ‘The Spirit of the Revolution and the Constitution of France’ (1791)
    Deputy to the National Assembly (1792-94)
    Military commissar
    Served with Maximillian Robespierre on the Committee of Public Safety (1793-94)
    He wrote ‘Organt, a Poem in 20 Cantos,’ which alternated attacks on the monarchy and church with pornographic episodes.
    He was allowed to join the National Guard before he was of legal age. (One suspects that it helped that the commander of his hometown unit was his brother-in-law.)
    In ‘The Spirit of the Revolution,’ he argued for a constitutional monarchy and declared his opposition to the death penalty; a year later, in his first speech to the National Convention, he demanded the execution of King Louis XVI and declared that monarchy was inherently immoral.
    He sucked up to Robespierre, addressing him in a letter as ‘You whom I know, as I know God, only through his miracles.’
    He drafted a liberal constitution for France, then as a member of the Committee of Public Safety ordered it suspended indefinitely.
    He declared, ‘We must not only punish traitors, but all people who are not enthusiastic. There are only two kinds of citizens: the good and the bad. The Republic owes to the good its protection. To the bad it owes only death.’
    As the man who announced the arrests and prosecution of the government’s enemies, he became the public face of the Reign of Terror.
    He was nicknamed ‘the Archangel of Death.’
    He allegedly moved the local town council to tears by setting a batch of anti-revolutionary pamphlets on fire, then thrusting his hand into the flame and pledging his devotion to the new French Republic (1790).
    As a military commissar, he imposed discipline on the disorganized army, and was widely credited for subsequent victories over Austria and Prussia.
    Despite being a civilian, he fought alongside the soldiers in several battles and impressed many with his courage under fire.
    Ironically, his military successes undermined him politically: with France no longer in imminent danger from foreign armies, there was less justification for the Reign of Terror.
    He remained loyal to Robespierre, even when denouncing him might have saved him from an appointment with the guillotine.

Credit: C. Fishel

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