Eugène Réveillaud (1851-1935)

A Protestant convert and a militant

  • Eugène Réveillaud (1851-1935) © S.H.P.F.

Réveillaud was born in Saint-Coutant (Charente-Maritime) into a family of primary school teachers. His mother, a devout Roman Catholic, enrolled him at the Diocesan Institution of Pons, but he ran away and completed his studies at the lycée Charlemagne.

Initially he went in for a career in journalism and was the editor of several newspapers, among them L’Avenir Républicain (Troyes). His Law degree enabled him to practise at the bar in Troyes. First initiated a Free-Mason, he was converted to Protestantism (in its evangelical persuasion) in 1878. He became a fervent anti-Catholic campaigner ; his book La question religieuse et la solution protestante (The religious problem and the protestant solution) was published in 1878, and was to be a great success. In 1884, he founded an institution offering shelter to priests converted to Protestantism. After spending some time in a Waldensian parish in the Italian Alps, he founded the Coligny Society with the aim of helping peasants from the region to settle in Algeria. He also administered the Société des Traités Religieux (Society for Religious Tracts).

Elected député for Charente-Inférieure in 1802, he took an active part in the debates leading to the separation of Church and State : he presented the organisation of the Protestant Churches as a model. Réveillaud was a militant protestant, republican and anticlerical. He was likewise the author of several books of bible-inspired poetry, as well as books on history (Histoire du Canada et des Canadiens).

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