CAMILLE JORDAN (1771-1821), French politician, was born in Lyons on the 11th of January 1771 of a well-to-do mercantile family. He was educated in Lyons, and from an early age was imbued with royalist principles. He actively supported by voice, pen and musket his native town in its resistance to the Convention; and when Lyons fell, in October 1793, Jordan fled. From Switzerland he passed in six months to England, where he formed acquaintances with other French exiles and with prominent British statesmen, and imbibed a lasting admiration for the English Constitution. In 1796 he returned to France, and next year he was sent by Lyons as a deputy to the Council of Five Hundred. There his eloquence won him consideration. He earnestly supported what he felt to be true freedom, especially in matters of religious worship, though the energetic appeal on behalf of church bells in his Rapport sur la liberte des cultes procured him the sobriquet of Jordan-Cloche. Proscribed at the coup d'etat of the 18th Fructidor (4th of September 1797) he escaped to Basel. Thence he went to Germany, where he met Goethe. Back again in France by 1800, he boldly published in 1802 his Vrai sens du vote national pour le consulat a vie, in which he exposed the ambitious schemes of Bonaparte. He was unmolested, however, and during the First Empire lived in literary retirement at Lyons with his wife and family, producing for the Lyons academy occasional papers on the Influence reciproque de l'eloquence sur la Revolution et de la Revolution sur l'eloquence; Etudes sur Klopstock, &c. At the restoration in 1814 he again emerged into public life. By Louis XVIII. he was ennobled and named a councillor of state; and from 1816 he sat in the chamber of deputies as representative of Ain. At first he supported the ministry, but when they began to show signs of reaction he separated from them, and gradually came to be at the head of the constitutional opposition. His speeches in the chamber were always eloquent and powerful. Though warned by failing health to resign, Camille Jordan remained at his post till his death at Paris, on the 19th of May 1821.
To his pen we owe Lettre a M. Lamourette (1790; Histoire de la conversion d'une dame Parisienne (1792); La Loi et la religion vengees (1792); Adresse a ses commettants sur la revolution du 4 Septembre 1797 (1797); Sur les troubles de Lyon (1818); La Session de 1817 (1818). His Discours were collected in 1818. The "Fragments choisis," and translations from the German, were published in L'Abeille francaise. Besides the various histories of the time, see further details vol. x. of the Revue encyclopedique; a paper on Jordan and Madame de Stael, by C. A. Sainte-Beuve, in the Revue des deux mondes for March 1868 and R. Boubee, "Camille Jordan a Weimar," in the Correspondant (1901), ccv. 718-738 and 948-970.
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