Chaumette, Pierre Gaspard
CHAUMETTE, PIERRE GASPARD (1763-1794), French revolutionist, was born at Nevers. Until the Revolution he lived a somewhat wandering life, interesting himself particularly in botany. He was a student of medicine at Paris in 1790, became one of the orators of the club of the Cordeliers, and contributed anonymously to the Révolutions de Paris. As member of the insurrectionary Commune of the 10th of August 1792, he was delegated to visit the prisons, with full power to arrest suspects. He was accused later of having taken part in the massacres of September, but was able to prove that at that time he had been sent by the provisional executive council to Normandy to oversee a requisition of 60,000 men. Returning from this mission, he pronounced an eloquent discourse in favour of the republic. His simple manners, easy speech, ardent temperament and irreproachable private life gave him great influence in Paris, and he was elected president of the Commune, defending the municipality in that capacity at the bar of the Convention on the 31st of October 1792. Re-elected in the municipal elections of the 2nd of December 1792, he was soon charged with the functions of procurator of the Commune, and contributed with success to the enrolments of volunteers by his appeals to the populace. Chaumette was one of the ringleaders in the attacks of the 31st of May and of the 2nd of June 1793 on the Girondists, toward whom he showed himself relentless. He demanded the formation of a revolutionary army, and preached the extermination of all traitors. He was one of the promoters of the worship of Reason, and on the 10th of November 1793 he presented the goddess to the Convention in the guise of an actress. On the 23rd of the same month he obtained a decree closing all the churches of Paris, and placing the priests under strict surveillance; but on the 25th he retraced his steps and obtained from the Commune the free exercise of worship. He wished to save the Hébertists by a new insurrection and struggled against Robespierre; but a revolutionary decree promulgated by the Commune on his demand was overthrown by the Convention. Robespierre had him accused with the Hébertists; he was arrested, imprisoned in the Luxembourg, condemned by the Revolutionary tribunal and executed on the 13th of April 1794. Chaumette's career had its brighter side. He was an ardent social reformer; he secured the abolition of corporal punishment in the schools, the suppression of lotteries, of houses of ill-fame and of obscene literature; he instituted reforms in the hospitals, and insisted on the honours of public burial for the poor.
Chaumette left some printed speeches and fragments, and memoirs published in the Amateur d'autographes. His memoirs on the 10th of August were published by F.A. Aulard, preceded by a biographical study.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)