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BAILLY, JEAN-SYLVAIN:

Astronomer and publicist; born in Paris Sept. 15, 1736; guillotined Nov. 12, 1793. He was elected a member of the Académie des Sciences in 1763 and of the Académie Française in 1784. In 1789 he was elected by the citizens of Paris deputy to the States General. He was chosen president of that body on June 3 of the same year. In the following month he was elected mayor of Paris. Ranged on the side ofmoderation and justice, Bailly's sympathies went out to the alien and the oppressed. He was one of that group of liberal-minded men who emancipated the Jews; obtaining the passage of the decree of Sept. 27, 1791 (confirmed Nov. 30 of the same year), which declared the latter to be French citizens, with all rights and privileges. This decree repealed the special taxes that had been imposed on the Jews, as well as all the ordinances existing against them. Neither threats nor ridicule could deter Bailly in this matter, as was to be expected from his unswerving adherence, at great personal risk, to what he considered to be the duties of a just and upright magistrate.

On the occasion of the arrest of Louis XVI., Bailly was obliged to disperse by force of arms the crowds that gathered at the Champ de Mars to demand the deposition of the king (July 17, 1791). This act cost Bailly his popularity. Resigning his office, he fled; but, being recognized, he was brought to trial before the Revolutionary tribunal, and guillotined.

Bibliography:
  • M. Schwab, Histoire des Israélites, 2d ed., p. 286;
  • Léon Kahn, Les Juifs de Paris Pendant la Révolution Française, p. 59, note 3.
G. M. S.
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