The Eighteenth Brumaire, the day of the year VIII. in the calendar of the French revolution corresponding to Nov. 9,1799. On that day was begun the movement which resulted in the overthrow of the directory and the establishment of the consulate in France. Bonaparte, on his return from Egypt, found the government in power as established by the constitution of the year III. It consisted of a directory of five members (Sieyes, Barras, Ducos, Moulins, and Gohier), a senate, or council of the ancients, and the council of 500, or popular legislative branch. The republicans had a majority in the council of 500; these, with the generals Bernadotte, Jourdan, and Augereau, desired to restrain the power of the directory, and remove Barras from it. Sieyes, with a majority of the ancients, wished some less democratic organization. Barras and the other directors were anxious to retain their own power. Bonaparte and his brothers, aided by many soldiers and civilians, were in favor of any change which would throw the power into their own hands. These latter entered into a conspiracy with Sieves and his friends for the overthrow of the government, and fixed upon the 18th Brumaire as the day for its execution.

Sieyes was to manage the council of the ancients; Lucien Bonaparte was to see to the council of 500, of which he was president; Bonaparte undertook the military. At 6 o'clock in the morning of that day the council of the ancients, with the exception of the republican members who had not been notified, were convened at the Tuileries, where Sieyes made a harangue upon the perils of the republic, and the reported plots of the Jacobins to reestablish the reign of terror, and induced the council to place Bonaparte in command of the military in Paris, and to transfer the sittings of both legislative bodies to St. Cloud, where they would be out of danger. Sieyes, Barras, and Ducos resigned as members of the directory, so that there was left no executive authority; but Bonaparte commanded the troops. On the next morning, Nov. 10, the two councils met at St. Cloud. The republican majority in the ancients inveighed against the trick by which they had been left out in the proceedings of the previous day. Bonaparte apple at the bar to justify his action. He began a violet speech, lost his presence of mind, and became confused, but catching a glimpse of the grenadiers outside, he threatened the council with military violence if they should decide against him.

Meanwhile in the council of 500 Lucien Bonaparte read the resignation of the three directors, amid shouts from the members of " No Cromwell! no dictator! the constitution for ever." Bonaparte how entered, accompanied by four grenadiers, and attempted to speak, but was interrupted by cries and execrations, and could utter only a few broken sentences. The members appeared to be on the point of proceeding to violence against him, when a body of soldiers rushed into the hall and bore him off. A motion was made for his outlawry; but Lucien refused to put it, left the chair, and went outside the hall, where he addressed the troops, declaring that a body of factious men in the pay of England, and armed with daggers, had set the deliberations of the representatives of the people at defiance, and that he, as president of the assembly, summoned the military to quell the disturbance. The soldiers hesitated until Lucien swore that he would stab his own brother if he attempted anything against the republic. Murat at the head of a body of grenadiers then entered the hall, and ordered the assembly to disperse. The members replied with shouts and execrations. The drums were then ordered to beat, the soldiers levelled their muskets, and the members of the council made their escape by the windows.

Bonaparte had meanwhile gone to Paris, where he said that attempts had been made to stab him; and one person declared that he had received wounds intended for Bonaparte. The council of 500 was dissolved by a vote of about 50 of its members, who also in conjunction with the ancients passed a decree making Sieyes, Bonaparte, and Ducos provisional consuls, and investing them with supreme executive power. The coup d'etat was merely begun on the 18th Brumaire, and its success was only assured on the 19th.