Lot 30: PORTALIS Jean-Etienne-Marie (1746-1807) Rapport sur la résolution du 30 messidor, concernant des émigrés naufragés, 15 thermidor an V Copie manuscrite d'un discours prononcé le 2 août 1797 devant le Conseil des Anciens. Cahier de 17 pages in-folio,

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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 messidor, concernant des émigrés naufragés, 15 thermidor an V Copie manuscrite d'un discours prononcé le 2 août 1797 devant le Conseil des Anciens. Cahier de 17 pages in-folio, écrit à l'encre brune. « Portalis retrouvera son meilleur accent d'avocat dans l'affaire des naufragés de Calais. Il s'agissait d'émigrés français appartenant à un régiment de hussards enrôlés par l'Angleterre avec d'autres soldats de différentes nationalités et embarqués pour les Grandes Indes à bord de trois navires de commerce danois-donc neutres-partis des cotes du Hanovre qui avaient fait naufrage, dans la nuit du 13 au 14 novembre 1796, au large des rives de Calais. Les deux tiers des Neuf cents hommes avaient péri, mais, à peine recueillis par la population, cinquante trois hommes Français parmi les rescapés furent jeté en prison sur ordre du ministre de la justice [...] Ce dernier entendait bien faire condamner ces infortunés en vertu des proscriptions frappant les royalistes émigrés, malgré la déclaration d'incompétence et les annulations des différentes juridictions saisies qui, de surcroit ,avaient prouvé que les chefs de cette troupe avaient exclu avec las Anglais tout engagement contre la France. L'affaire est donc évoquée à la tribune du parlement... » Joël Benoît d'Onorio, Portalis l'Esprit des siècles (Paris, Dalloz 2005) Extrait : « [...] Une question de droit des n'est donc jamais étrangère au législateur ; elle l'est encore moins quand ce législateur représente une grande nation, un grand peuple. De plus, des hommes naufragés ne sont proprement justiciables d'aucun tribunal particulier : il ne s'agit pas de les juger, mais de les secourir. Il sont la garantie de la commisération universelle. L'état dans lequel ils prennent un asyle forcé, en répond au monde entier. On n'aurait jamais du mettre en jugement des hommes qui avaient droit à notre humanité, mais qui étaient étrangers à notre juridiction. Un acte d'hospitalité était nécessaire, et non un acte de puissance. Le naufrage constaté, toute procédure était interdite : la pitié et la générosité nationale devaient éclater seules. Dans ces moments, il s'opère un retour instantané à l'état de nature, qui fait cesser tous les rapports civils et politiques, et qui ne laissent subsister que ceux dont la nature elle même s'est rendue garante entre êtres de la même espèce [...] » On joint une copie manuscrite d'un discours de Portalis Opinion sur les Sociétés s'occupant de discussions politiques prononcé le 7 thermidor an VII (25 juillet 1797) devant le Conseil des Anciens. Cahier de 21 pages et demie in-folio, écrit à l'encre brune.
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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