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Cloots, Jean Baptiste Du Val De Grace

CLOOTS, JEAN BAPTISTE DU VAL DE GRACE, Baron von (1755-1794), better known as Anacharsis Cloots, a noteworthy figure in the French Revolution, was born near Cleves, at the castle of Gnadenthal. He belonged to a noble Prussian family of Dutch origin. The young Cloots, heir to a great fortune, was sent at eleven years of age to Paris to complete his education. There he imbibed the theories of his uncle the Abbé Cornelius de Pauw (1739-1799), philosopher, geographer and diplomatist at the court of Frederick the Great. His father placed him in the military academy at Berlin, but he left it at the age of twenty and traversed Europe, preaching his revolutionary philosophy as an apostle, and spending his money as a man of pleasure. On the breaking out of the Revolution he returned in 1789 to Paris, thinking the opportunity favourable for establishing his dream of a universal family of nations. On the 19th of June 1790 he appeared at the bar of the Assembly at the head of thirty-six foreigners; and, in the name of this "embassy of the human race," declared that the world adhered to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. After this he was known as "the orator of the human race," by which title he called himself, dropping that of baron, and substituting for his baptismal names the pseudonym of Anacharsis, from the famous philosophical romance of the Abbé Jean Jacques Barthélemy. In 1792 he placed 12,000 livres at the disposal of the Republic - "for the arming of forty or fifty fighters in the sacred cause of man against tyrants." The 10th of August impelled him to a still higher flight; he declared himself the personal enemy of Jesus Christ, and abjured all revealed religions. In the same month he had the rights of citizenship conferred on him; and, having in September been elected a member of the Convention, he voted the king's death in the name of the human race, and was an active partisan of the war of propaganda. Excluded at the instance of Robespierre from the Jacobin Club, he was soon afterwards implicated in an accusation levelled against the Hébertists. His innocence was manifest, but he was condemned, and guillotined on the 24th of March 1794.

Cloots' main works are: La Certitude des preuves du mahométisme (London, 1780), published under the pseudonym of Ali-Gur-Ber, in answer to Bergier's Certitude des preuves du christianisme; L'Orateur du genre humain, ou Dépêches du Prussien Cloots au Prussien Herzberg (Paris, 1791), and La République universelle (1792).

The biography of Cloots by G. Avenel (2 vols., Paris, 1865) is too eulogistic. See the three articles by H. Baulig in La Révolution française, t. 41 (1901).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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