Claude Henri de Rouvroy comte de Saint-Simon

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Saint-Simon, Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Comte de

SAINT-SIMON, CLAUDE HENRI DE ROUVROY, COMTE DE. (1760–1825). French officer, social philosopher. He entered the French army in 1775 as a second lieutenant, was promoted to captain in the cavalry of the Touraine Regiment on 3 June 1779, and transferred to the infantry of that regiment on 14 November 1779. His regiment sailed from Brest for Saint Domingue in the autumn of 1779. He participated in attacks on Barbados during April and May 1780 and was transferred later to the Spanish service in the Caribbean. He received permission from Governor Lillancourt of Saint-Domingue to join Grasse's 1781 force sailing for America. At the siege of Yorktown he commanded the regimental gunners. He left Virginia with Grasse's force on 4 November. His siegecraft skills led to another victory in the capture of Brimstone Hill, Saint Kitts, in February 1782. On 12 April 1782 he was captured in the action off Saints Passage and taken to Jamaica. In 1782 he was made a mestre de camp en second in the Aquitaine Regiment on 1 January 1784 and colonel attached to the cavalry in 1788. In 1790 he was made a chevalier in the Order of Saint Louis.

He played no important part in the French Revolution but was imprisoned during the Terror. To finance his project of reorganizing society he had made a small fortune in land speculation during the French Revolution, but he lost it and spent most of his remaining years in poverty. Shortly before his death he published his New Christianity (1825), a seminal work in French socialism. He summed up the importance of his American experience to his later life this way: "It was in America, while fighting in the cause of industrial liberty, that I conceived the first desire to see this plant from another world come to flower in my own country."

SEE ALSO West Indies in the Revolution.


Larabee, Harold A. "Henri de Saint-Simon at Yorktown: A French Prophet of Modern Industrialism in America." Franco-American Review 2 (1937): 96-109.

Leroy, Maxime. La Vie véritable du comte Henri de Saint-Simon (1760–1825). Paris: B. Grasset, 1925.

Manuel, Frank. The New World of Henri Saint-Simon. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1956.

                       revised by Robert Rhodes Crout

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Claude Henri de Rouvroy Saint-Simon, comte de (klōd äNrē də rōōvrwä´ kôNt də săN-sēmôN´), 1760–1825, French social philosopher; grand nephew of Louis de Rouvroy, duc de Saint-Simon. While still a young man, he served in the American Revolution as a volunteer on the side of the colonists. He took no part in the French Revolution, but used the opportunity to make a fortune through land speculation. He lavished his wealth on a salon for scientists and spent his later years in poverty, sustained by the faith that he had a message for humanity. Foreseeing the triumph of the industrial order, Saint-Simon called for the reorganization of society by scientists and industrialists on the basis of a scientific division of labor that would result in automatic and spontaneous social harmony. In Le Nouveau Christianisme [the new Christianity] (1825), he proclaimed that the concept of brotherhood must accompany scientific organization. His writings contain ideas foreshadowing the positivism of Auguste Comte (for a time his pupil), socialism, federation of the nations of Europe, and many other modern trends. Around him gathered a small group of brilliant young men. After his death, they modified and elucidated his principles into a system of thought known as Saint-Simonianism. Partly because of their eccentricities, the Saint-Simonians achieved brief fame. Led by Barthélemy Prosper Enfantin and Saint-Amand Bazard, they organized a series of lectures (published in 1828–30 as L'Exposition de la doctrine de Saint-Simon), calling for abolition of individual inheritance rights, public control of means of production, and gradual emancipation of women. Although the movement developed into a moral-religious cult and had split and was disintegrated by 1833, it exerted much influence, especially on later socialist thought.

See Saint-Simon's Social Organization, The Science of Man and Other Writings, ed. and tr. by F. Markham (1964); Historical Memoirs, ed. and tr. by L. Norton (3 vol., 1969–72); studies by M. M. Dondo (1955), E. Durkheim (tr. 1958), and F. E. Manuel (1956, repr. 1963).

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Saint-Simon, Claude-Henri de Rouvroy, Comte de (1760–1825) A most unusual French aristocrat who lived through remarkable times. His powerful liberal and republican sympathies saved him from the guillotine during the French Revolution, and after the Bourbon restoration he developed a system of ideas about social progress. What he created has been called the ‘characteristic ideology of industrialism’: that everyone must work and be rewarded according to merit, that all progress is based on science, and that the society of the future will be peaceful, prosperous, and run on strictly scientific principles. Saint-Simon gathered a band of enthusiastic disciples who were regarded as radicals and even socialists—although there was not much about his system that would be called socialist today. From 1817 to 1824, when they quarrelled, Auguste Comte worked with Saint-Simon, whose influence on the younger man's theories is clear. See Robert B. Carlisle , The Proffered Crown (1987