Jean Bon Saint-André

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Jean Bon Saint-André, portrait by Jacques-Louis David

Jean Bon Saint-André (February 25, 1749 – December 10, 1813) was a French politician of the Revolution era.

Early career and in the Convention

He was born at Montauban (Tarn-et-Garonne), the son of a fuller. AS a young man he enrolled in the merchant marine but in 1782, after three shipwrecks and the loss of all his savings, he abandoned this career.[1] Although his father was a Protestant, Saint-André was brought up by the Jesuits at Marseille, and took orders. He turned Protestant, however, and became pastor at Castres and afterwards at Montauban.

The proclamation of liberty of worship made him a supporter of the Revolution, and he was sent as deputy to the National Convention by the département of Lot.

He sat on The Mountain, voted for the execution of King Louis XVI, and opposed the punishment of the authors of the September massacres,.[2] In June 1793 he became a member of the Committee of Public Safety, and it was he who proposed Robespierre for membership shortly afterwards.[3] In July 1793 he was President of the Convention and in this capacity it was he who announced the death of Marat.[4] In the same month and was sent on mission to the Armies of the East fighting in the Revolutionary Wars.

Reign of Terror and later missions

On the Committee of Public Safety, his main responsibility was he navy, where he took over from Barere.[5] On September 20, 1793, Saint-André obtained a vote of one hundred million francs for constructing vessels, and from September 1793 to January 1794 reorganized the military harbours of Brest and Cherbourg.[6]

On 31 January 1794, on his return from Brest, he presented a report to the Convention on the state of the navy. 'Work was stagnating in the ports and malevolence was paralysing every arm' he declared. Thereafter royalist officers were imprisoned, discipline restored and a new regime of training introduced across the navy. The officer corps and civilian administration of the navy were brought up to strength. Lighthouses were built at Penmarch and Groix and new ships of the line were built. Thanks to this reforming zeal, France was able to build and launch new frigates at three times the rate of the Royal Navy during the same period.[7]

In May 1794, he fought with Admiral Villaret de Joyeuse the Glorious First of June against the British. Finally, after a mission in the south, which lasted from July 1794[8] to March 1795 and in which he showed moderation in contrast to the directives of the Reign of Terror, he was arrested on May 28, 1795, but was released by the amnesty of the year IV.

He was then appointed consul at Algiers and Smyrna (1798), was kept prisoner by the Ottoman Empire for three years (during the Napoleonic Wars).[9] Released in 1800, he subsequently became préfet of the départment of Mont-Tonnerre (1801) and commissary-general of the three départments on the left bank of the Rhine.[10] Napoleon made him a member of the Légion d'honneur in 1804 and a Baaron of the Empire in 1809.[11] He died of typhoid at Mainz.


  1. Chronicle of the French Revolution p.35 Longman Group 1989
  2. Paxton, J. Companion to the French Revolution p.110 Facts on File Publications 1988
  3. Thompson, J.M., Robespierre p.383 Basil Blackwell 1988
  4. Schama, S. Citizens p.741 Penguin 1989
  5. Thompson, J.M., Robespierre p.383 Basil Blackwell 1988
  6. Paxton, J. Companion to the French Revolution p.110 Facts on File Publications 1988
  7. Bouloiseau, M. The Jacobin Republic pp.132-133 CUP 1983
  8. Chronicle of the French Revolution p.437 Longman Group 1989
  9. Chronicle of the French Revolution p.667 Longman Group 1989
  10. Chronicle of the French Revolution p.667 Longman Group 1989
  11. Chronicle of the French Revolution p.667 Longman Group 1989


  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> The 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, in turn, gives as a reference:
    • Levy-Schneider, Le Conventionnel Jean bon St André (Paris, 1901).