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Jacques Pierre Brissot de Warville

Brissot de Warville, Jacques Pierre (zhäk pyĕr brēsōˈ də värvēlˈ) [key], 1754–93, French revolutionary and journalist. He began his career by writing numerous pamphlets and books. His Théorie des lois criminelles (1781) was a plea for penal reform. He was imprisoned briefly in the Bastille for writing a seditious pamphlet. Brissot visited the Netherlands, Switzerland, England, and the United States. He was interested in humanitarian schemes and founded the abolitionist Société des Amis des Noirs.

After his return to France in 1789 he began to edit the Patriote français, which later became an organ of the Girondists (at first called Brissotins). Brissot, feeling that war would spread the principles of the French Revolution, did much to foment it with his diatribes against Europe's monarchs. In the Legislative Assembly his great influence on the conduct of foreign affairs contributed to the French declaration of war on Austria in 1792. After the fall of the monarchy, a power struggle between two groups ensued, and the Girondists lost power. The Jacobins's victory over the Girondists resulted in his execution. He left memoirs.

See biography by E. Ellery (1915, repr. 1970).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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