Lot 29: PORTALIS Jean-Etienne-Marie (1746-1807) Rapport sur la résolution du 30 Pluviose, relative aux délits de la presse, 26 germinal an V Copie manuscrite d'un discours. Cahier de 64 pages et demie in-folio, écrit à l'encre brune.

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November 24, 2012, 2:30 PM CET
Marseille, France
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Description: PORTALIS Jean-Etienne-Marie (1746-1807)
Rapport sur la résolution du 30 Pluviose, relative aux délits de la presse, 26 germinal an V
Copie manuscrite d'un discours. Cahier de 64 pages et demie in-folio, écrit à l'encre brune.
Le 15 avril 1797 Portalis va défendre la liberté d'expression devant le Conseil des Anciens contre une résolution répressive
du Conseil des Cinq Cents sur les délits de presse : « [...] De tous les temps la liberté de la presse a eu ses partisans et ses
adversaires. Les uns croient qu'il importe à la tranquillité de soumettre à une censure préalable, ou à toute précaution de police, les
journaux, les pamphlets et généralement tous les écrites destinés à être rendus publics par la voie de l'impression. [...] La liberté de
la presse est la faculté de manifester, sans aucune gène ses sentiments et ses idées par la voie de l'impression. On ne peut contester
à un être intelligent l'usage de son esprit, de son jugement et de sa raison. Le droit de communiquer à autrui ce que l'on pense et ce
que l'on sent est attaché à la nature d'un être sociable. Tout homme peut donc penser, parler et écrire librement. [...] Un règlement
contre la liberté de la presse serait une véritable sentence d'interdiction contre la raison humaine. Le temps est passé ou des gouvernements
croyaient avoir besoin pour se conserver de l'ignorance de ceux qui avaient à leur obéir, ou l'on ne laissait circuler d'autres
ouvrages que les ouvrages copiés par des moines [...] Pour jouir de sa liberté, il faut pouvoir dire ce que l'on pense. Pour conserver
sa liberté, il faut encore pouvoir dire ce que l'on pense [...] Mais en maintenant la liberté de la presse la Conseil des Cinq-cents
annonce la volonté de réprimer par des peines les abus que l'on peut faire de cette liberté. [...] La liberté de la presse doit être inviolable,
mais les abus de cette liberté ne doivent point être impunis. Ce n'est point une loi particulière sur les écrits de la presse qu'il
faut présenter. La loi à faire est une loi générale sur les injures verbales, gravées, écrites ou imprimées et sur les libelles contraires aux
lois et aux bonnes moeurs [...] Votre commission a pensé à l'unanimité que le Conseil des Anciens ne peut approuver la résolution. »
Notes: Jean-Étienne-Marie Portalis (1 April 1746 - 25 August 1807) was a French jurist and politician in time of the French Revolution and the First Empire.
His son, Joseph Marie Portalis was a diplomat and statesman.
Portalis was born at Le Beausset, currently in the Var département of Provence, France to a bourgeois family, and was educated by the Oratorians at their schools in Toulon and Marseille, and then went to the University of Aix.
As a student, he published his first two works, Observations sur Émile (on Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Emile: Or, On Education) in 1763 and Des Préjugés in 1764.
In 1765 he became a lawyer at the parlement of Aix-en-Provence, and soon obtained so great a reputation that he was instructed by Étienne François de Choiseul in 1770 to draw up the decree authorizing the marriage of Protestants.
From 1778 to 1781, Portalis was one of the four assessors or administrators of Provence.
In November 1793, after the First French Republic had been proclaimed, he came to Paris and was thrown into prison for being the brother-in-law of Joseph Jérôme Siméon, the leader of the Federalists in Provence.
He was soon released to a maison de santé, where he remained until the fall of Maximilien Robespierre during the Thermidorian Reaction.
On being released he practised as a lawyer in Paris, and, in 1795, he was elected by the capital to the Council of Ancients of the French Directory, becoming a leader of the moderate party opposed to the directory rule.
As a leader of the moderates, he was targeted by the coup d'état of 18 Fructidor, but, unlike General Charles Pichegru and François Barbé-Marbois, he managed to escape to Switzerland, then to Holstein, and did not return until after Napoleon Bonaparte established himself as the leader of the new Consulate.
Bonaparte made him a conseiller d'état in 1800, and then charged him, with François Denis Tronchet, Félix-Julien-Jean Bigot de Préameneu, and Jacques de Maleville, to draw up the Code Civil.
Of this commission he was the most notable member, and many of the most important titles, notably those on marriage and heirship, are his work.
He did a famous speech, "Discours préliminaire au projet de code civil" in which he presents the core principles of the civil code: legal certainty (non-retroactivity), the notion of "ordre public" and the forbidding of the "arrêt de règlement" which was a characteristic production of the Ancien Régime's judges and was contrary to the idea that only the law prevails.
In 1801 he was placed in charge of the Department of Religion or Public Worship, and in that capacity had the chief share in drawing up the provisions of the Concordat of 1801.
In 1803 he became a member of the Académie française, in 1804 Minister of Public Worship, and in 1805 a Chevalier Grand-Croix de la Légion d'honneur.
He soon after became totally blind, and, after an operation, he died at Paris.
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