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Maximilien Robespierre
1758 - 1794

French lawyer, judge and revolutionary. As one of the leaders of the Committee of Public Safety - the effective ruling body of France from 1792-1794 - Robespierre imposed a reign of terror on aristocrats and citizens alike. His rigid and iron-fisted socialism was cloaked in exhortations of virtue and duty to God and the republic. It fired the bloodiest zeal of the revolution, but his ruthless excesses of power soon found him with more enemies than supporters. He went under the guillotine himself on July 28, 1794, with the crowd roaring, "Down with the tyrant!"

 The nation alone has the right to educate children.

Every precaution must early be used to place the interests of freedom in the hands of truth, which is eternal, rather than in those of men who change; so that if the government forgets the interests of the people or falls into the hands of men corrupted, according to the natural course of things, the light of acknowledged principles should unmask their treasons, and that every new faction may read its death in the very thought of a crime.

Feb. 5, 1794 - from "Report On the Principles of Political Morality"