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Saint-Simon, Comte de (1760–1825)

Marcelline Block


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Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Comte de Saint-Simon (or simply Henri de Saint-Simon) was the founder of French socialism. Born into an impecunious noble family in Paris, Saint-Simon led a turbulent life filled with travel, adventure, and danger. At the age of 16 or 17, he joined the American Revolution on the side of the American colonists and was wounded in battle. As a supporter of the French Revolution , he drafted a cahier de doléances for the Estates General and renounced his aristocratic title. Although he was awarded certificates of civisme for his revolutionary ardor, he was nevertheless imprisoned in the Palais du Luxembourg in Paris during the Terror for purchasing property at a very low price, which was considered a violation of revolutionary ethics. He was released from prison after a year and afterward continued working for the government under the Directory , with the goal of establishing peace with the British in the city of Lille. His real estate speculation had made him wealthy, but only temporarily; he later spent his fortune trying to implement his social theories and passed the last two decades of his life in dire poverty. Although considered a prophet by his small but loyal group of followers, Saint-Simon was not particularly influential during his lifetime. However, his theories for a better and more equitable society, and his innovative ideas –such as ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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