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Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V03, Page 432 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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COMTE DE PAUL FRANCOIS NICOLAS BARRAS (1755-1829), member of the French Directory of 1795-1799, was descended from a noble family of Provence, and was born at Fox-Amphoux. At the age of sixteen he entered the regiment of Languedoc as "gentleman cadet," but embarked for India in 1776. After an adventurous voyage he reached Pondicherry and shared in the defence of that city, which ended in its capitulation to the British on the 18th of October 1778. The garrison being released, Barras returned to France. After taking part in a second expedition to the East Indies in 1782-1783, he left the army and occupied the following years with the frivolities con-genial to his class and to his nature. At the outbreak of the Revolution in 1789, he espoused the democratic cause, and became one of the administrators of the department of the Var. In June 1792 he took his seat in the high national court at Orleans; and later in that year, on the outbreak of war with the kingdom of Sardinia, he became commissioner to the French army of Italy, and entered the Convention (the third of the national assemblies of France) as a deputy for the department of the Var. In January 1793 he voted with the majority for the death of Louis XVI. Much of his time, however, was spent in missions to the districts of the south-east of France; and in this way he made the acquaintance of Bonaparte at the siege of Toulon. As an example of the incorrectness of the Barras Memoirs we may note that the writer assigned 30,000 men to the royalist defending force, whereas it was less than 12,000; he also sought to minimize the share taken by Bonaparte in the capture of that city. In 1794 Barras sided with the men who sought to overthrow the Robespierre faction, and their success in the coup d' tat of 9 Thermidor (27th of July) brought him almost to the front rank. In the next year, when the Convention was threatened by the malcontent National Guards of Paris, it appointed Barras to command the troops engaged in its defence. His nomination of Bonaparte as one of his subalterns led to the adoption of vigorous measures, which ensured the dispersion of the royalists and attack on Pitt, of whom, however, he became ultimately a devoted adherent. A vigorous opponent of the taxation of America, his mastery of invective was powerfully displayed in his championship of the American cause, and the name " Sons of Liberty," which he had applied to the colonists in one of his speeches, became a common designation of the American organizations directed against the Stamp Act, as well as of later patriotic clubs. His appointment in 1782 to the treasurership of the navy, which carried with it a pension of £3200 a year, at a time when the government was ostensibly advocating economy, caused great discontent; subsequently, however, he received from the younger Pitt the clerkship of the pells in place of the pension, which thus was saved to the public. Becoming blind, he retired from office in 1790 and died on the loth of July 1802.
BARRATRY (O. Fr. bareter, barater, to barter or che...

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