On October 28, 1759, in Arcis-Sur-Aube, France, Georges Jacques Danton was born. He had a good education which was provided by his wealthy father. In 1780, he moved to Paris to study law. Danton had a major impact on the French Revolution and gained popular favor through his powerful oratory.

By the beginning of the revolution in 1789, Danton had already become a popular man. This partisan lawyer led a radical group called the Cordelier's Club, was offered a city government post, and worked for the downfall of the constitutional monarchy.

Danton placed ideas about revolt against the established government in people’s heads. He wanted to turn the revolution against the King, but also wanted to remain separate from the actual revolution. For example, through his influence, the Tuileries Palace was stormed on August 10, 1792. The city hall was taken, the city government was suspended, and a new government (the Insurrectional Commune) was set up.

Due to the fact that Danton did not want to be affiliated with any of the actual events, he decided to leave Paris to his family on August 6. But Robespierre and many Jacobins pleaded for him to come back—so he did on August 9. On August 10, Danton became one of the leaders of a mob when he gave orders to kill any guards who refused to cooperate. The mob was unable to find the King, which made them very angry. They raided the palace, and killed many innocent victims.

In this new republic, Danton was given the position of Minister of Justice. And was the virtual head of the Provisional Executive Council. Danton was a member of the Convention, the national assembly, and dominated the first Committee of Public Safety (April 1793July 1793). The Committee of Public Safety was created by the Convention as the chief governing body of France. When France suffered military reverses, Danton began advocating a conciliatory foreign policy. Danton retired from the capital and was not included in the new Committee of Public Safety.

That November, Danton returned only to find that his friends were revealed. Danton, then, advocated relaxation of emergency measures, especially the Reign of Terror, and attacked the dictatorship of the committee. Once the rumor began to spread that Danton was accepting bribes, he lost credibility and became increasingly unpopular. On March 30, 1794, Danton and his followers were charged with conspiracy to overthrow the government. The trial was a mockery, and on April 5, 1794, Danton was sentenced to the guillotine on the charges of personal misconduct and treason.

Danton went out bravely, and made only one request—“Show my head to the people.”

Information gathered from: www.woodberry.org and www.infoplease.com

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