"Mme. de Stael"

On this date in 1766, Germaine Necker, later known as "Mme. de Stael," was born in France. Her mother was pious but her father, who was French Minister of Finance, was more liberal. Germaine started writing political essays at 15. She married the Swedish Ambassador, the Baron de Stael, in 1786. They separated after a few years. Mme. de Stael wrote "Sophie," a drama, in 1786, studied Rousseau, and left Paris beginning in 1792 for long periods of both self-imposed and Napolean-imposed exiles. During her travels she wrote a four-volume novel, Delphine, published in 1802. Although the Revolution cooled some of her Voltairean views, she continued to reject Christianity. D. 1817.

“She spoke much about the preservation of religion, in which, she gave me to understand, she did not herself believe.”

—American envoy John Q. Adams, writing about Mme. de Stael, in a letter to his mother dated Nov. 22, 1812, Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, Vol. xxiii, 1913, cited by Joseph McCabe in A Dictionary of Modern American Rationalists (1920)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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