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Cloots, Jean Baptiste du Val-de-GrÂce, Baron de°

CLOOTS, JEAN BAPTISTE DU VAL-DE-GRÂCE, BARON DE°

CLOOTS, JEAN BAPTISTE DU VAL-DE-GRÂCE, BARON DE ° (later adopted the name Anacharsis ; 1755–1794), French revolutionary who was born in Germany. Before and after the outbreak of the French Revolution, Cloots envisioned the emergence of a "Universal Republic." In 1783 he published in Berlin a "Letter on the Jews to a Priest, One of my Friends." In this he ascribed the survival of Jews not to supernatural causes but to their specific function as the main promoters of trade in the world throughout the ages. Unlike most of the French rationalists, Cloots was not anti-Jewish, considering then that the existence of Jews as a distinct trading class was beneficial to the human race. Shortly after he published his famous La République Universelle (1792) expressing extreme cosmopolitan views, there appeared a curious public letter addressed to him written in the name of world Jewry by someone who called himself "Samuel Levi, Prince of the Diaspora" (Chronique de Paris (April 3, 1792), 374–5). The letter calls upon all Jews in the world to see France as their promised land, and the French Revolution as the real fulfillment of the promises given to Israel. The name and title of the alleged author, and the striking similarity to Cloots's style, makes it probable that he wrote the letter to himself. One of the group of Hébertists with whom Cloots was guillotined in 1794 was his lifelong Jewish friend, J. Pereire, an adherent of the "cult of reason."

bibliography:

Dictionnaire de Biographie Française, 9 (1961), 24; L. Kessler, in: E. Tcherikower (ed.), Yidn in Frankraykh, 2 (1942), 75–92.

[Baruch Mevorah]

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