Henri-Benjamin Constant de Rebecque (French: [kɔ̃stɑ̃]; 25 October 1767 – 8 December 1830), or simply Benjamin Constant, was a Swiss-French political activist and writer on politics and religion. He was the author of a partly biographical psychological novel, Adolphe. He was a fervent classical liberal of the early 19th century, who influenced the Trienio Liberal movement in Spain, the Liberal Revolution of 1820 in Portugal, the Greek War of Independence, the November Uprising in Poland, the Belgian Revolution, and liberalism in Brazil and Mexico.
|Member of the Chamber of Deputies|
14 April 1819 – 8 December 1830
Seine 4th (1824–27)
Bas-Rhin 1st (1827–30)
|Member of the Council of State|
20 April 1815 – 8 July 1815
|Appointed by||Napoleon I|
|Member of the Tribunat|
25 December 1799 – 27 March 1802
Henri-Benjamin Constant de Rebecque
25 October 1767
Lausanne, Swiss Confederacy
|Died||8 December 1830 (aged 63)|
|Political party||Republican (1799–1802)|
Liberal Left (1819–24)
Wilhelmine von Cramm
(m. 1789; div. 1795)
Charlotte von Hardenberg
(m. 1808; died 1830)
|Alma mater||University of Edinburgh|
University of Erlangen
|Period||18th and 19th centuries|
|Subject||Liberty, psychology, love|
|Literary movement||Romanticism, classical liberalism|
Henri-Benjamin Constant was born in Lausanne to descendants of Huguenot Protestants who had fled from Artois to Switzerland during the Huguenot Wars in the 16th century. His father, Jules Constant de Rebecque, served as a high-ranking officer in the Dutch States Army, like his grandfather, his uncle and his cousin Jean Victor de Constant Rebecque. When Constant's mother died soon after his birth, both his grandmothers took care of him. Private tutors educated him in Brussels (1779) and in the Netherlands (1780). At the Protestant University of Erlangen (1783), he gained appointment to the court of Duchess Sophie Caroline Marie of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. He had to leave after an affair with a girl, and moved to the University of Edinburgh. There he lived at the home of Andrew Duncan, the elder and became friends with James Mackintosh and Malcolm Laing. When he left the city, he promised to pay back his gambling debts.
In 1787, he returned, traveling on horseback through England and Scotland. In those years the European nobility, with their prerogatives, had come under heavy attack by those who were influenced by Rousseau's Discourse on Inequality; Constant's family criticized him when he left out part of his last name. In Paris, at the home of Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Suard he became acquainted with Isabelle de Charriere, a 46-year old Dutch woman and writer, who later helped publish Rousseau's Confessions, and who knew his uncle David-Louis Constant de Rebecque extremely well by correspondence for 15 years. When he stayed at her home in Colombier Switzerland, they wrote an epistolary novel together. She acted as a mother to him until Constant's appointment to the court of Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel that required him to move north. He left the court when the War of the First Coalition began in 1792.
In Brunswick, he had married Wilhelmina von Cramm, but he divorced her in 1793. In September 1794, he met and became interested in the famous and rich (but married) Anne Louise Germaine de Staël, brought up on the principles of Rousseau. They both admired Jean Lambert Tallien and Talleyrand. Their intellectual collaboration between 1795 and 1811 made them one of the most celebrated intellectual couples of their time.
After the Reign of Terror in France (1793–1794), Constant became a defender of bicameralism and of the Parliament of Great Britain. In revolutionary France this strand of political thought resulted in the Constitution of the Year III, the Council of Five Hundred and the Council of Ancients. In 1799, after 18 Brumaire, Constant was appointed by Napoleon Bonaparte to the Tribunat, but in 1802, the first consul forced him to withdraw because of his speeches and his connections with Mme de Staël.
In 1800, the Plot of the rue Saint-Nicaise, an act of terror, failed. In 1803, at a time when Britain and France were at peace, Jean Gabriel Peltier, while living in England, argued that Napoleon should be killed. The lawyer James Mackintosh defended the French refugee against a libel suit instigated by Napoleon – then First Consul of France. Mackintosh's speech was widely published in English and also across Europe in a French translation by Madame de Staël. She was forced to leave Paris.
De Staël, disappointed in French Rationalism, became interested in German Romanticism. Constant moved with her and their two children to Weimar. Duchess Anna Amalia of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel welcomed them the day after their arrival. In Weimar they met Friedrich von Schiller; Johann Wolfgang Goethe at first hesitated. In Berlin, they met with August Wilhelm Schlegel, and his brother, Friedrich Schlegel. Constant parted from de Stael and in 1806 lived in Rouen and Meulan, where he started to work on his novel Adolphe. In 1809, he secretly married Caroline von Hardenberg, a woman who had been divorced twice, (she was related to Novalis and to Karl August von Hardenberg). He moved back to Paris in 1814, where Louis XVIII of France had become king. As a member of the Council of State; Constant defended the constitutional monarchy. He became friends with Madame Récamier and argued with Germaine de Staël, who had asked him to pay his debts when their daughter Albertine married Victor de Broglie. During the Hundred Days of Napoleon, who had become more liberal, Constant fled to the Vendée, but returned when he was invited several times at the Tuileries in order to set up changes for the Charter of 1815.
After the Battle of Waterloo (18 June 1815), Constant moved to London – not in the company of Madame Récamier, who went south, but with his wife. In 1817, back in Paris, he sat in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower legislative house of the Restoration-era government. One of its most eloquent orators, he became a leader of the parliamentary bloc first known as the Independants and later as "liberals". He became an opponent of Charles X of France during the Restoration between 1815 and 1830.
In 1822, in light of Constant's political career, Goethe praised him in the following terms:
I spent many instructive evenings with Benjamin Constant. Whoever recollects what this excellent man accomplished in [later] years, and with what zeal he advanced without wavering along the path which, once chosen, was forever followed, realizes what noble aspirations, as yet undeveloped, were fermenting within him.
One of the first thinkers to go by the name of "liberal", Constant looked to Britain rather than to ancient Rome for a practical model of freedom in a large, commercial society. He drew a distinction between the "Liberty of the Ancients" and the "Liberty of the Moderns". The Liberty of the Ancients was a participatory republican liberty, which gave the citizens the right to directly influence politics through debates and votes in the public assembly. In order to support this degree of participation, citizenship was a burdensome moral obligation requiring a considerable investment of time and energy. Generally, this required a sub-society of slaves to do much of the productive work, leaving the citizens free to deliberate on public affairs. Ancient Liberty was also limited to relatively small and homogenous societies, in which the people could be conveniently gathered together in one place to transact public affairs.
The Liberty of the Moderns, in contrast, was based on the possession of civil liberties, the rule of law, and freedom from excessive state interference. Direct participation would be limited: a necessary consequence of the size of modern states, and also the inevitable result of having created a commercial society in which there are no slaves but almost everybody must earn a living through work. Instead, the voters would elect representatives, who would deliberate in Parliament on behalf of the people and would save citizens from the necessity of daily political involvement.
He chastised several aspects of the French Revolution, and the failures within the social and political upheaval. He stated how the French attempted to apply ancient republic liberties to the modern state. Constant realized that freedom meant drawing a line between the area of a person's private life and that of public authority. He admired the noble spirit of regeneration of the state; however, he stated that it was naïve that writers believed that two thousand years had not wrought some changes in the disposition and needs of the people. The dynamics of the state had changed: the ancient states' population paled in comparison to that of modern countries. He even argued that with a large population, man had no role in government regardless of its form or type. Constant emphasized how the citizens of the ancient state found more satisfaction in their public existence and less in their private. However, the satisfaction of modern peoples occurs in their private existence.
Constant's repeated denunciation of despotism pervaded his critique of French political philosophers Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Abbé de Mably. These writers, influential to the French Revolution, according to Constant mistook authority for liberty and approved any means of extending the action of authority. Reformers used the model of ancient states of public force, and organized the most absolute despotism under the name of the Republic. He continued to condemn despotism, citing the paradox of liberty derived from recourse to despotism, and the lack of substance in this ideology.
Furthermore, he pointed out the detrimental nature of the Reign of Terror; the inexplicable delirium. In François Furet's words, Constant's "entire political thought" revolved around this question, namely the problem of explaining the Terror. Constant understood the revolutionaries' disastrous over-investment in the political. The French revolutionaries such as the Sans-culottes were the primary forces in the streets. They promoted constant vigilance and a public emphasis. Constant pointed out how the most obscure life, the quietest existence, the most unknown name, offered no protection during the Reign of Terror. He also stated that each individual added to the number, and took fright in the number that he had helped increase. This mob mentality deterred many and helped to usher in new despots such as Napoleon.
Moreover, Constant believed that, in the modern world, commerce was superior to war. He attacked Napoleon's martial appetite, on the grounds that it was illiberal and no longer suited to modern commercial social organization. Ancient Liberty tended to be warlike, whereas a state organized on the principles of Modern Liberty would be at peace with all peaceful nations.
Constant believed that if liberty were to be salvaged from the aftermath of the Revolution, then chimerical Ancient Liberty had to be reconciled with the practical and achievable Modern Liberty. England, since the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and then the United Kingdom after 1707, had demonstrated the practicality of Modern Liberty and Britain was a constitutional monarchy. Constant concluded that constitutional monarchy was better suited than republicanism to maintaining Modern Liberty. He was instrumental in drafting the "Acte Additional" of 1815, which transformed Napoleon's restored rule into a modern constitutional monarchy. This was only to last for "One Hundred Days" before Napoleon was defeated, but Constant's work nevertheless provided a means of reconciling monarchy with liberty. Indeed, the French Constitution (or Charter) of 1830 could be seen as a practical implementation of many of Constant's ideas: a hereditary monarchy existing alongside an elected Chamber of Deputies and a senatorial Chamber of Peers, with the executive power vested in responsible ministers. Thus, although often ignored in France because of his Anglo-Saxon sympathies, Constant made a profound (albeit indirect) contribution to French constitutional traditions.
Secondly, Constant developed a new theory of constitutional monarchy, in which royal power was intended to be a neutral power, protecting, balancing and restraining the excesses of the other, active powers (the executive, legislature, and judiciary). This was an advance on the prevailing theory in the English-speaking world, which, following the conventional wisdom of William Blackstone, the 18th-century English jurist, had reckoned the King to be head of the executive branch. In Constant's scheme, the executive power was entrusted to a Council of Ministers (or Cabinet) who, although appointed by the King, were ultimately responsible to Parliament. In making this clear theoretical distinction between the powers of the King (as head of state) and the ministers (as Executive) Constant was responding to the political reality which had been apparent in Britain for more than a century: that the ministers, and not the King, are responsible, and therefore that the King "reigns but does not rule". This was important for the development of parliamentary government in France and elsewhere. It should be noted, however, that the King was not to be a powerless cipher in Constant's scheme: he would have many powers, including the power to make judicial appointments, to dissolve the Chamber and call new elections, to appoint the peers, and to dismiss ministers – but he would not be able to govern, make policy, or direct the administration, since that would be the task of the responsible ministers. This theory was literally applied in Portugal (1822) and Brazil (1824), where the King/Emperor was explicitly given "Moderating Powers" rather than executive power. Elsewhere (for example, the 1848 "Statuto albertino" of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which later became the basis of the Italian constitution from 1861) the executive power was notionally vested in the King, but was exercisable only by the responsible ministers.
He defended the separation of powers as basis of a liberal State, but unlike Montesquieu and most of the liberal thinkers, he defended five powers instead of three. They were the Regal or Moderator, the Executive, the Representative Power of Opinion, the Representative Power of Tradition and the Judicial, the Moderator Power was a monarch, a type judge that was not part of the government, but served as a neutral power to the government, the Executive Power was the ministers that the monarch appointed and they were, collectively, the head of government, the Representative Powers were a separation of the Monstesquieu´s Legislative Power, with the Representative Power of Opinion being an elected body to represent the opinion of the citizens and the Representative Power of Tradition was an hereditary House of Peers and the judicial was similar to the Montesquieu's Judicial Power.
Constant's other concerns included a "new type of federalism": a serious attempt to decentralize French government through the devolution of powers to elected municipal councils. This proposal reached fruition in 1831, when elected municipal councils (albeit on a narrow franchise) were created.
The importance of Constant's writings on the liberty of the ancients has dominated understanding of his work. His wider literary and cultural writings (most importantly the novella Adolphe and his extensive histories of religion) emphasized the importance of self-sacrifice and warmth of the human emotions as a basis for social living. Thus, while he pleaded for individual liberty as vital for individual moral development and appropriate for modernity, he felt that egoism and self-interest were insufficient as part of a true definition of individual liberty. Emotional authenticity and fellow-feeling were critical. In this, his moral and religious thought was strongly influenced by the moral writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and German thinkers such as Immanuel Kant, whom he read in preparing his religious history.
Constant published only one novel during his lifetime, Adolphe (1816), the story of a young, indecisive man's disastrous love affair with an older mistress. A first-person novel in the sentimentalist tradition, Adolphe examines the thoughts of the young man as he falls in and out of love with Ellenore, a woman of uncertain virtue. Constant began the novel as an autobiographical tale of two loves, but decided that the reading public would object to serial passions. The love affair depicted in the finished version of the novel is thought to be based on Constant's affair with Anna Lindsay, who describes the affair in her correspondence (published in the Revue des Deux Mondes, December 1930 – January 1931). The book has been compared to Chateaubriand's René or Mme de Stael's Corinne.
The 1824 general election organized the third legislature of the Second Restoration. The election was held on 25 February and 6 March.
Only citizens paying taxes were eligible to vote.
The election was an overwhelming victory for Villèle and the ultras, as only 17 MPs of the opposition were re-elected (including Royer-Collard, Cécile Stanilas de Girardin, Benjamin Constant and Maximilien Sébastien Foy).Adolphe (film)
Adolphe is a 2002 French drama film based on the novel Adolphe by Benjamin Constant. The film was directed by Benoît Jacquot and starred Isabelle Adjani as Ellénore and Stanislas Merhar as Adolphe.Benjamin-Constant Martha
Benjamin-Constant Martha, also known under the name Constant Martha, (1820–1895) was a 19th-century French moralist and
historian of ancient morality.
A graduate of the École normale supérieure, agrégé de lettres and docteur ès lettres, he was professor of literature at the lycée de Strasbourg, then held the chair of Latin eloquence at the Sorbonne and professor at the Collège de France. He was elected a member of the Académie des sciences morales et politiques in 1872.
He was Jules Martha's father and Paul Girard's stepfather.Benjamin Constant, Amazonas
Benjamin Constant is a municipality located in the Brazilian state of Amazonas. Its population was 26,191 (2005) and its area is 8,793 km² (5,495 mi²).The town is located by the confluence of the Javary River and the Amazon, close to the border with Peru. However, there are no customs or immigration facilities in Benjamin Constant, and entry and exit formalities take place at Tabatinga on the opposite bank of the Amazon. There are no roads into Benjamin Constant and the only access is by river boat. By fast boat it is about 31 hours from Manaus (about 7 days by slow boat). The nearest airport is at Tabatinga, 2 hours by boat.
The area is inhabited by Ticuna Indians. The Magüta Museum in the town is devoted to their culture and language. In 1988 the town was the scene of the murder of 14 Ticunas in a dispute between them and logging interests.The town was named after the Brazilian revolutionary Benjamin Constant (1836–1891).Benjamin Constant (Brazil)
Benjamin Constant Botelho de Magalhães (18 October 1836 – 22 January 1891) was a Brazilian military man and political thinker. Primarily a positivist, influenced heavily by Auguste Comte, he was the founder of the positivist movement in Brazil (Sociedade Positivista do Brasil, Brazilian Positivist Society), and later this led to his republican views. He left the Brazilian Positivist society because of internal disagreements, but remained an ardent pupil of Comte until the end of his life.
Benjamin Constant was born in Niterói. He had a difficult childhood and attempted suicide at the age of 12. He served in the Paraguayan War, and had a large family. He felt underpaid and unhappy as a soldier. An intellectual at heart, he was a great supporter of Comte's Religion of Humanity.
His Republican views led him to found the Clube Militar (or Military Club), with Deodoro da Fonseca, in May 1887. It was based in the Praia Vermelha Military School, and, shortly before his death, overthrew the emperor Pedro II and helped establish a republic.
The Brazilian town of Benjamin Constant, near the Amazon river and the Peruvian border, was named after him.
He was considered the founder of the Republic in the Constitution of 1891, having died earlier the same year in Rio de Janeiro, aged 54.Benjamin Constant (disambiguation)
Benjamin Constant may be:
PeopleJean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant (surname sometimes seen as "Benjamin Constant") (1845–1902), French painter
Benjamin Constant (1767–1830), cosmopolitan European politician & author Henri Benjamin Constant de Rebecque
Benjamin Constant (Brazilian politician) (1836–1891), Brazilian politician & soldier Benjamin Constant Botelho de MagalhãesPlacesBenjamin Constant, Amazonas, a city in the state of Amazonas, Brazil
Benjamin Constant do Sul, a town in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, BrazilOtherInstituto Benjamin ConstantBenjamin Constant do Sul
Benjamin Constant do Sul is a municipality in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.Cachoeira
Cachoeira (Portuguese, meaning the waterfall), is an inland municipality of Bahia, Brazil, on the Paraguaçu River. The town exports sugar, cotton and tobacco and is a thriving commercial and industrial centre.
The municipality contains 56% of the 10,074 hectares (24,890 acres) Baía do Iguape Marine Extractive Reserve, created in 2000.São Félix is located directly across the Paraguaçu River from Cachoeira; it also borders the municipalities of Conceição da Feira, Santo Amaro, Saubara, Maragogipe, Governador Mangabeira, and Muritiba.Catholic University of Petrópolis
The Catholic University of Petrópolis (Portuguese: Universidade Católica de Petrópolis, UCP) is a private and non-profit Catholic university in Petrópolis — the capital of the State of Rio de Janeiro for nine years and the largest city of the highlands of the state. It is maintained by the Catholic Archdiocese of Petrópolis.Charter of 1815
The Charter of 1815, signed on April 22, 1815, was the French constitution prepared by Benjamin Constant at the request of Napoleon I when he returned from exile on Elba. More correctly known as the "Additional Act to the Constitutions of the Empire" the document extensively amended (in fact virtually replacing) the previous Napoleonic Constitutions (Constitution of the Year VIII, Constitution of the Year X and Constitution of the Year XII). The Additional Act reframed the Napoleonic constitution into something more along the lines of the Bourbon Restoration Charter of 1814 of Louis XVIII, while otherwise ignoring the Bourbon charter's existence. It was very liberal in spirit, and gave the French people rights which had previously been unknown to them, such as the right to elect the mayor in communes of less than 5,000 in population. Napoleon treated it as a mere continuation of the previous constitutions, and it therefore took the form of an ordinary legislative act "additional to the constitutions of the Empire".Constant (surname)
Constant is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:
Benjamin Constant (1767–1830), Swiss-born thinker, writer and French politician
Benjamin Constant (Brazil) (1836–1891), Brazilian military man and political thinker
David Constant (born 1941), international cricket umpire
Edward Constant II (born c. 1942), American historian
Emmanuel Constant (bishop) (1928–2009), Roman Catholic Haitian bishop
Emmanuel Constant (born 1956), founder of FRAPH
Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant, (1845 – 1902), French painter
Marius Constant (1925–2004), Romanian-born French composer
Paul-Henri-Benjamin d'Estournelles de Constant (1852–1924), French diplomat and politician
Pete Constant (born 1963), American politician
Kevin Constant (born 1987), Guinean footballerEmpire of the Ants
"The Empire of the Ants" is a 1905 short story by H. G. Wells about the littleness of humanity and the tenuousness of the dominion Homo sapiens enjoys on Earth. A 1977 film, Empire of the Ants, was loosely based on Wells's story.
"The Empire of the Ants" features a Brazilian captain, Gerilleau, who is ordered to take his gunboat, the Benjamin Constant, to assist the inhabitants of the town of Badama, in the "Upper Amazon," "against a plague of ants." A Lancashire engineer named Holroyd, from whose point of view the story is, for the most part, told, accompanies him. They find a species of large black ant that has evolved advanced intelligence and has used it to make tools and organize aggression. Before arriving in Badama, Captain Gerilleau encounters a cuberta which has been taken over by the ants, which have killed and mutilated two sailors. After Capt. Gerilleau sends his second in command, Lieutenant da Cunha, aboard the vessel, the ants attack him and he dies painfully hours later, apparently poisoned. The next day, after burning the cuberta, the Benjamin Constant arrives off Badama. The town is deserted and all its inhabitants dead or dispersed. Fearing the ants and their poison, Capt. Gerilleau contents himself with firing "de big gun" at the town twice, with minimal effect. He then demands "what else was there to do?" (variants of this phrase are used throughout the story when discussing the ants) and returns downstream for orders. A final section reports that Holroyd has returned to England to warn the authorities about the ants "before it is too late."
"The Empire of the Ants" was first published in 1905 in The Strand Magazine.Federal University of Amazonas
The Federal University of Amazonas (Portuguese: Universidade Federal do Amazonas, UFAM) is a public university located in Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil. It is the oldest university in Brazil and one of the largest universities in the northern region of Brazil.
It offers a wide array of degrees, with 645 research groups and 65 graduate courses.Javary River
The Javary River, Javari River or Yavarí River(Spanish: Río Yavarí; Portuguese: Rio Javari) is a 1,184 km (736 mi) tributary of the Amazon that forms the boundary between Brazil and Peru for more than 500 mi (800 km). It is navigable by canoe for 900 mi (1,400 km) from above its mouth to its source in the Ucayali highlands, but only 260 were found suitable for steam navigation. The Brazilian Boundary Commission ascended it in 1866 to the junction of the Shino with its Jaquirana branch. The country it traverses in its extremely sinuous course is very level, similar in character to that of the Juruá.
There are a number of small private reserves along the river, which arrange wildlife viewing.The town of Benjamin Constant lies at the mouth of the river, on the Brazilian bank.Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant
This article concerns the painter Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant; for others like the European writer and politician see Benjamin Constant (disambiguation).
Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant (also known as Benjamin Constant), born Jean-Joseph Constant (10 June 1845 – 26 May 1902), was a French painter and etcher best known for his Oriental subjects and portraits.List of municipalities in Amazonas
This is a list of the municipalities in the state of Amazonas (AM), Brazil.Paul Henri Balluet d'Estournelles de Constant
Paul Henri Benjamin Balluet d'Estournelles de Constant, Baron de Constant de Rebecque (22 November 1852 – 15 May 1924), was a French diplomat and politician, advocate of international arbitration and winner of the 1909 Nobel Prize for Peace.Tabatinga
For the city in State of São Paulo, see Tabatinga, São Paulo.Tabatinga, originally Forte de São Francisco Xavier de Tabatinga, is a municipality in the Três Fronteiras area of Western Amazonas. It is located in the Brazilian state of Amazonas. Its population was 59,684 (2014) and its area is 3,225 km²
Together with the neighbouring Colombian city of Leticia and the Peruvian city of Santa Rosa de Yavari, the urban area has more than 100,000 residents spread along the Amazon river. The first Portuguese settlement in the area was founded in the 18th century as a military outpost. It became an autonomous municipality on February 1, 1983. Formerly, it was part of the Municipality of Benjamin Constant. The city is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Alto Solimões.
Due to the extensive border with Colombia and Peru, Tabatinga is considered, by the federal police and the Brazilian Army, one of the main entry points of cocaine in Brazil.