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La Revellière-Lépeaux, Louis-Marie de, 1753-1824



  • Existence: 1753-08-25 - 1824-03-27


Louis-Marie de La Revellière-Lépeaux was born in Montaigu in the Vendée, France, in August 1753 to J. B. de la Revellière. He later adopted the name Lépeaux from property which belonged to his family. After studying law in Angers and Paris, he joined the bar in 1775 at the age of 22. He was elected to be a representative of the Third Estate and attended the Estates-General of 1789 as a deputy. After the session ended, he returned to Angers and sat on the council of Maine-et-Loire. In this position, he observed some of the first outbreaks of anti-Republican violence in the Vendée. In 1792, La Revellière-Lépeaux became a member of the Convention, the national assembly that governed France from 1792 to 1795.

La Revellière-Lépeaux voted for the death of Louis XVI, but because of his moderate leanings, became associated with the Girondins and went into hiding during the Terror of 1793-94. He remained in hiding until the revolution of 9-10 Thermidor which occurred in late July 1794. After the revolution, La Revellière-Lépeaux returned to the Convention, served on the commission that drew up the Constitution of 1795, and in July 1795, became president of the Assembly. He also joined the Committee of Public Safety from September 1 until its dissolution on November 4, 1795. Shortly before the Committee's termination, on November 2, 1795, the Executive Directory, commonly known as the Directory, assumed executive power in France. Five directors shared power. La Revellière-Lépeaux's appeared as the first name on the list of elected directors, and he became president of the Directory (effectively, the president of the French Republic).

La Revellière-Lépeaux held his position on the Directory until June 18, 1799, when the revolution of 30 Pairial compelled his resignation. The Directory itself ceased to exist five months later, when Napoleon Bonaparte overthrew the Directory and replaced it with the Consulate during the coup d'état of 18 Brumaire. The four years of the Directory were a period of turbulence and domestic political disquiet. The period of La Revellière-Lépeaux's leadership was particularly marked by hostile policies towards the Christian religion. He became an advocate of a deistic belief system called Theophilanthropy which promoted reason over revelation or tradition and which he hoped to launch as the national faith of France.

After his resignation, La Revellière-Lépeaux retired to the country for ten years before returning to Paris. He stayed out of public affairs for the remainder of his life, refusing to swear allegiance to Napoleon in 1804. He died in Paris on March 27, 1824.

La Revellière-Lépeaux's Memoires, with publication attributed to his son, was published posthumously in 1873.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Louis-Marie de La Revellière-Lépeaux papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 549
Abstract: The collection consists of correspondence, writings, official reports, subject files, printed materials, and personal papers documenting the life and political career of La Revellière-Lépeaux, particularly during the period of the First Republic (1792-1804). The papers span the years 1789-1872, encompassing early publications by La Revellière-Lépeaux through correspondence of La Revellière-Lépeaux's family after his death.Series I, Correspondence, contains letters from other...
Dates: 1789-1872, bulk 1789-1815