Jean Baptiste Carrier, a French revolutionist, born near Aurillac in 1756, executed in Paris, Dec. 16, 1794. Taking his seat in the national convention in 1792, he supported the establishment of the revolutionary tribunal, voted for the death of Louis XVI., presented a motion for the arrest of Philippe Egalite, duke of Orleans, and participated actively in the popular rising of May 31 against the Girondists. His revolutionary zeal caused him to be sent to Normandy, then to Nantes, where he arrived Oct. 8, 1793. The western departments were troubled by civil war, and he ordered numerous arrests, and sent victims to the scaffold on the slightest suspicion. He soon dispensed with even a show of trial; without any judicial proceedings, prisoners were murdered by wholesale; and as the guillotine did not afford sufficient means of execution, boats provided with valves were procured, which, after receiving on board hundreds of prisoners, were towed to the middle of the Loire, where they were sunk to the bottom with their human cargo. The first of these noyades de Nantes comprised 94 priests; several others took place in which women and children were mingled with men.
The prisoners were confined in a vast building called the warehouse; every day, at nightfall, numbers of them were summoned on board the fatal boats, and their death was hidden in the darkness of night. He also invented the so-called "republican marriage," in which victims were tied in couples, sometimes a man and woman together, then flung into the river, or forced from the boat by the sword or bayonet. Meanwhile numbers of prisoners were also shot in the vicinity of Nantes. The convention was for a while kept ignorant of these scenes; the killing of prisoners he reported as the "translation of culprits." The citizens of Nantes did not dare to denounce him, as they were under the impression that he acted in accordance with the orders of the convention. At last the assembly became aware of the real state of things, and Carrier was recalled by the committee of public safety. Strongly denounced by public opinion after the fall of Robespierre, he was arraigned before the revolutionary tribunal, Nov. 25, 1794, and sentenced to death.