Henri-Benjamin Constant de Rebecque (French: [kɔ̃stɑ̃]; 25 October 1767 – 8 December 1830), or simply Benjamin Constant, was a Swiss-French political thinker, activist and writer on political theory and religion.
|Member of the Chamber of Deputies|
14 April 1819 – 8 December 1830
Seine 4th (1824–27)
Bas-Rhin 1st (1827–30)
|Member of the Council of State|
20 April 1815 – 8 July 1815
|Appointed by||Napoleon I|
|Member of the Tribunat|
25 December 1799 – 27 March 1802
Henri-Benjamin Constant de Rebecque
25 October 1767
Lausanne, Swiss Confederacy
|Died||8 December 1830 63) (aged|
|Nationality||Swiss and French|
|Political party||Republican (1799–1802)|
Liberal left (1819–24)
|Alma mater||University of Edinburgh|
University of Erlangen
|Period||18th and 19th centuries|
|Genre||Prose, essays, pamphlets|
|Subject||Political theory, liberalism, religion, romantic love|
|Literary movement||Romanticism, classical liberalism|
A committed republican from 1795, he backed the coup d'état of 18 Fructidor, (4 September 1797) and the following one on 18 brumaire, (9 November 1799). During the Consulat, in 1800 he became the leader of the Liberal Opposition. Having upset Napoleon and left France to go to Switzerland then to the Kingdom of Saxony, he nonetheless sided with Napoleon during the Hundred Days and became politically active again during the French Restoration. He was elected Député in 1818 and remained in post until his death in 1830. Head of the Liberal opposition, known as Indépendants, he was one of the most notable orators of the Chamber of Deputies of France, as a proponent of the parliamentary system. During the July Revolution, he was a supporter of Louis Philippe I ascending the throne.
Besides his numerous essays on political and religious themes, Constant also wrote on romantic love. His autobiographical Le Cahier rouge (1807) gives an account of his love for Madame de Staël, whose protégé and collaborator he became, especially in the Coppet circle, and a successful novella, Adolphe (1816).
He was a fervent classical liberal of the early 19th century. He refined the concept of liberty, defining it as a condition of existence that allowed the individual to turn away interference from the state or society. His ideas influenced the Trienio Liberal movement in Spain, the Liberal Revolution of 1820 in Portugal, the Greek War of Independence, the November uprising in Poland, the Belgian Revolution, and liberalism in Brazil and Mexico.