full text File Size: 28 K bytes | Add this to my bookbag

Biography

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Benoist La Forte was a government administrator in France's newly nationalized gunpowder industry during the period of the Revolution. Born in Grenoble in 1761, he gave up practicing law in 1784 in order to study the manufacture of gunpowder under the Commission of gunpowder ( Regie des poudres et salpêtres ), the governmental body which had supplanted the private monopoly in 1775. Beginning in 1786 La Forte held a series of government posts: he served briefly as comptroller for the departement of Montpellier, and then as commissaire at Clermont-Ferrand, a post he held through July 1787. In August of that year he was named commissaire des poudres et salpêtres for La Rochelle, remaining there until November 1793, when the Regie des poudres and the Comite de Salut Public appointed him Inspector and then, in An III, Inspector General for Vaucluse and neighboring departements . La Forte's promotion to Inspector occurred around the same time that the Regie , renamed l'Agence des poudres et salpêtres , was undergoing substantial reforms in order to meet the demands of the Revolution and the European war. On December 4, 1793, the National Convention, on the recommendation of the Comite de Salut Public , inaugurated a program of highly regulated de-centralization which required all Frenchmen to participate in the production of gunpowder according to fixed guidelines. The recently-annexed territory that became the departement of Vaucluse in 1793, rich in saltpetre and furnished with several functional powder mills, promised to be an especially exploitable area of France, and La Forte, apparently a valued administrator, was named inspector for Vaucluse and given wide-ranging powers, which increased in the following year. La Forte remained Inspector General until May 1797 when, despite the protests of his superiors, he resigned his post.