France: Members of the Executive Directory: 1795-1799

Membre du Directoire exécutif de la République française
2 Nov 1795 - 18 Jun 1799 Louis-Marie La Revellière-Lépeaux
2 Nov 1795 - 26 May 1797 Étienne-François Le Tourneur
2 Nov 1795 - 19 May 1799 Jean-François Reubell
2 Nov 1795 - 10 Nov 1799 Paul Barras
4 Nov 1795 - 5 Sep 1797 Lazare Carnot
26 May 1797 - 5 Sep 1797 François Barthélemy
8 Sep 1797 - 18 Jun 1799 Philippe-Antoine Merlin, dit Merlin de Douai
9 Sep 1797 - 19 May 1798 Nicolas François de Neufchâteau
20 May 1798 - 17 Jun 1799 Jean-Baptiste Treilhard
20 May 1799 - 10 Nov 1799 Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès
17 Jun 1799 - 10 Nov 1799 Louis-Jérôme Gohier
19 Jun 1799 - 10 Nov 1799 Pierre-Roger Ducos, dit Roger-Ducos
20 Jun 1799 - 10 Nov 1799 Jean-François-Auguste Moulin

The Constitution of the Year III enacted by the Convention nationale (National Convention) on 5 Fructidor, Year III (22 Aug 1795) provided for election of a new legislature, Corps législatif, consisting of the Conseil des Anciens (Council of Ancients) and Conseil des Cinq-Cents (Council of Five Hundred), and a new executive body, Directoire exécutif (Executive Directory). The National Convention held its last session on 26 Oct 1795. Three hundred seventy-nine former conventionnels, re-elected to the Corps législatif, convened on 27 Oct 1795 at the salle des Machines, Palais des Tuileries, and formed an electoral assembly, which elected 104 more deputies out of their former colleagues, closing the session by 21:00 27 Oct 1795. The Corps législatif immediately proceeded with the election of the Council of Five Hundred and the Council of Ancients. The election results were proclaimed in the early hours of 28 Oct 1795 and the Corps législatif adjourned until 14:00 28 Oct 1795. When it convened again, the new legislature was inaugurated and divided into separate sessions at the Salle des Machines, Palais des Tuileries (Ancients) and the Salle du Manège (Five Hundred). As prescribed by the Constitution, the Five Hundred started (30 Oct 1795) forming the list of 50 candidates for further election as members of the Executive Directory. Upon completion of the list (31 Oct 1795), the messenger of the Five Hundred delivered the minutes of their session with the names of candidates to the Council of Ancients for final selection. The Ancients engaged in a long discussion about the rules for the vote and also lamented not being well acquainted with the candidates. The actual voting took place on 1 Nov 1795 and was followed by proclamation of the five new directors at the same session. All the elected (La Revellière-Lépeaux, Le Tourneur, Reubell, Barras) except for Sieyès accepted their election and notified the councils of their decision in writing on 2 Nov 1795. The Executive Directory held its constituent meeting at the Palais du Luxembourg (2 Nov 1795) and immediately assumed executive authority, making a number of appointments, though the official proclamation on the installation was delayed until 4 Nov 1795, when Lazare Carnot was elected and joined the Directory meeting.

Annual replacement of one of the Directory members was stipulated by the Constitution of the Year III (Article 137). For the first four years since the installation of the Directory, the outgoing member was designated by lot. Le Tourneur was the first to leave the Directory as he was chosen for replacement on 19 May 1797 and stepped down from his office on 26 May 1797 when his successor, Barthélemy, was elected by the Ancients. A major change in the membership of the Executive Directory occurred as a consequence of the coup of of 18 Fructidor, Year V (4 Sep 1797), when the royalists and counterrevolutionaries were purged from the legislature and executive bodies. Carnot and Barthélemy were condemned to exile by the Law on Public Salvation passed by the Council of Ancients on 5 Sep 1797. Their successors, Merlin de Douai and François de Neufchâteau, were elected on 8 Sep 1797 and 9 Sep 1797 respectively. The second sortition was held on 9 May 1798 and designated François de Neufchâteau, who served only eight months in office. Treilhard, who was elected to replace him on 15 May 1798 and commenced his term on 20 May 1798, was retrospectively found ineligible for election as a Directory member by resolution of the Council of Ancients (17 Jun 1799). The third and last sortition in the history of the Executive Directory (9 May 1799) terminated the tenure of Reubell, who continued in office until his functions expired (19 May 1799) according to the Law of 15 Ventôse, Year VI. Sieyès, who was the ambassador to the Kingdom of Prussia at that time, was elected a member of the Directory (16 May 1799) and formally entered the office in absentia on 20 May 1799 (returned to Paris and joined the Directory meetings on 9 Jun 1799). As Treilhard was discharged of his duties according to the resolution of the Ancients, Gohier was elected (17 Jun 1799) on his place after unsuccessfully contesting the seat in the Directory four times before. The coup of 30 Prairial, Year VII (18 Jun 1799) again affected the membership of the Executive Directory. Under the pressure of military failures of the French armies in the War of the Second Coalition and scandals over supplies, Merlin de Douai and La Revellière-Lépeaux were forced to resign their seats as chief executives (18 Jun 1799), leaving only Barras as the only original member of the Directory to survive throughout its history. The last two members elected to the Directory were Roger-Ducos (19 Jun 1799) and general Moulin (20 Jun 1799). The final blow directed against the Directory was delivered by the coup of 18 Brumaire, Year VIII (9 Nov 1799 - 10 Nov 1799), engineered by Sieyès and general Napoléon Bonaparte. Threatened by the news of a Jacobin conspiracy, the legislative bodies moved to Saint-Cloud (9 Nov 1799), where they were intimidated by the troops under command of Bonaparte and passed a law to the effect that the Directory ceases to exist. Information source: [1][2][3]

[1] Recueil des Actes du Directoire exécutif (Procès-verbaux, arrêtés, instructions, lettres et actes divers)", published by Antonin Debidour in "Collection de documents inédits sur l'histoire de France publiés par les soins du ministre de l'Instruction publique (Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1910-1917).
[2] Les procès-verbaux du Directoire exécutif, an V - an VIII. Inventaire des registres des delibérations et des minutes des arrêtés, lettres et actes du Directoire faisant suite au Recueil des actes du Directoire exécutif d'Antonin Debidour, ed. by Pierre-Dominique Cheynet (Paris: Centre historique des Archives nationales, 2000-).
[3] Gazette nationale ou Le Moniteur universel, No. 44-47, 14, 15, 16, 17 brumaire an IV.
Last updated on: 26 Jun 2009 03:25:13