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He was born at Thionville, the son of a procureur in the bailliage of Thionville. After studying theology, he began a career in law, and in 1788 was an avocat at the parlement of Metz. In 1790 he was elected municipal officer of Thionville, and was sent by the department of Moselle to the Legislative Assembly. On 23 October 1791 he moved and carried the institution of a committee of surveillance, of which he became a member. It was he who proposed the law sequestrating the property of the émigrés, and he took an important part in the émeute of 20 June 1792 and in the revolution of 10 August of the same year.