HEBERT, JACQUES-RENE ( 1757-94), member of the Paris Commune, dechristianizer, leader of the Paris sans-culottes. Born in Alençon in 1757, Hébert was the son of a jeweler and a mother of bourgeois background. Young Jacques lost his father at age nine, but his mother, who was some thirty years younger than her husband, lived on for another twenty years. Thus, his education was largely under her influence. She enrolled him in the Jesuit collège of Alençon where he acquired the usual education in Latin and the classics. As a young man, he became involved in a romantic affair with a young widow, leading to a trial in which he was sued for slander by a rival, lost the case, and was forced to leave for Paris in 1780. For the next decade he lived in poverty. In 1790, he began to publish the Père Duchesne, which became the most popular of all the Revolutionary journals. At last he had found his métier.
The popularity of Le Père Duchesne rested on its author's unusual talent to speak the patois of the streets and army camps. F. Brunot called Hébert the "Homère de l'ordure," but it must be remembered that the untutored masses who read his newspaper and were moved by the "great anger" or the "great joy" of Père Duchesne could hardly have been touched by polite expression or classical allusion. The journal was an accurate expression of the way the sans- culottes expressed themselves. Moreover, it taught them politics as seen through the eyes of the man who spoke as a Revolutionary democrat and expressed their needs and concerns. Hébert freely admitted that the journal was not written for "des demoiselles" of his day. Moreover, its scurrilous language expressed the frustrations and disappointments felt by the sans-culottes who had sacrificed so much but who had received so little in return.
Like so many others, Hébert turned his back on the constitutional monarchy and became an ardent republican after Louis' flight to Varennes. What he wanted, however, was not a bourgeois republic but a democratic one. He was indignant at the division of Frenchmen into active and passive citizens and denounced the substitution of an aristocracy of birth by one of wealth. A few weeks before the