Jean-Baptiste Drouet (French revolutionary)
Jean-Baptiste Drouet (January 8, 1763 – April 11, 1824) was a French politician of the 1789 Revolution, chiefly noted for the part he played in the arrest of King Louis XVI during the Flight to Varennes.
Early life, Varennes, and in the Convention
Born at Sainte-Menehould, Marne, he served for seven years in the army, and afterwards helped his father in his duties as postmaster of Sainte-Menehould. The carriages conveying the royal family on their flight to the frontier stopped at his door on the evening of June 21, 1791; and the passengers, travelling under assumed names, were recognized by Drouet, who immediately took steps which led to their arrest and detention on reaching Varennes.
For this service the Legislative Assembly awarded him 30,000 francs, but he appears to have declined the reward. In September 1792 he was elected deputy to the National Convention, and took his place with the most violent group.
He voted for the death of the king without appeal, showed virulent hostility to the Girondins, and proposed the slaughter of all British residents in France after the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars and the formation of the First Coalition against France. Sent as commissioner to the Army of the North, he was captured at the siege of Maubeuge in 1793 and imprisoned at Spielberg in Brno, Southern Moravia, until the close of the conflict in 1795. He returned to France in December 1795, exchanged with other revolutionaries against Marie Thérèse of France (Madame Royale), daughter of Louis XVI.
Directory and beyond
He then became a member of the Directory's Council of Five Hundred, and was named secretary. Drouet was implicated in the conspiracy of Babeuf, and was imprisoned, but made his escape into Switzerland, and went from there to Tenerife, where he took part in the successful resistance to Horatio Nelson's attack on the island, in 1797; he later visited India. He returned to France without being prosecuted, and took his seat in the Council with the Neo-Jacobins (who were trying to revive the Jacobin Club).
By the First Empire, he had become a sub-préfet of Sainte-Menehould. After the Second Restoration in 1815, he was compelled to leave France after being deemed "regicide", but, returning secretly, he settled at Mâcon, under the name of Merger, and kept his identity hidden until his death.