Definitions

danton

danton

[dan-tn; Fr. dahn-tawn]

Georges Jacques Danton was a French lawyer politician and a revolutionary. He was born on October 26, 1759 in Arcis-sur-Aube and died on April 5, 1794 in Paris.

Danton is an emblematic figure of the French Revolution, like Mirabeau, with whom he shared a prodigious talent for oratory and an impetuous temperament. Born into a bourgeois family in Champagne, he founded the Cordeliers Club in 1790, where he was noticed for his skills as an orator and gained great popularity.

After the fall of the monarchy in 1792, he was elected Minister of Justice but resigned shortly after to sit as a member of the Assembly. After he was attacked, along with Robespierre and Marat, by the Girondists, he played a central role, until the summer of 1793, by contributing to the creation of the Revolutionary Tribunal of Paris and the First Committee of Public Safety. He was accused of opportunism, and was stripped of the chairmanship of the Committee in July 1793. After he was compromised in the scandal of the liquidation of the East India Company, he was declared "enemy of the Republic" and was executed in 1794.

The influence of Danton and his character throughout the French revolution were and are still disputed by historians. Some depict him as a corrupted and violent politician who deserved his execution, while others paint a more positive picture of him as generous and patriotic man who was misunderstood and wrongly executed by his enemies.

According to the work of historians Thiers and Mignet, Danton was "a gigantic revolutionary", with a very high intelligence who tolerated violence as means to an end.

Before his execution, Danton said something to his executioner which is now a very famous historic phrase : "You will show my head to the people- it is worth seeing."

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