The Committee of Public Safety was an ostensibly interim government of the People's Republic of Haven from 1905 to 1915 PD, having taken power in an emergency situation. In fact, it was the intended result of a coup led by the most important of its members against the previous government.
The Committee was established by the People's Quorum on the basis of demands from members of the anti-Legislaturalist plot of 1905 PD. Due to the assasination of almost all members of the government, the People's Republic of Haven needed any provisoric rule. (HH4)
After the first disastrous battles of the Manticoran-Havenite War, Rob S. Pierre, Oscar Saint-Just and Cordelia Ransom took the opportunity to carry out a long-planned overthrow of the Legislaturist government. During a birthday celebration, Hereditary President Harris, his family, and almost the entire membership of the government were assassinated by an air strike, which was carried out by more of Pierre's supporters using stolen People's Navy shuttles. Placing the blame on the Navy for the killings, Pierre and his followers used the fear of a possible military coup to convince the People's Quorum to form the Committee, claiming it was a only a temporary measure "until a new government could be formed".
Soon thereafter, the newly empowered Committee began purging both senior military officers and political figures who had ties to the Legislaturist administration, condemmning them and their families to death in the People's Courts for their alleged "crimes" against the people as the first step in cementing their rule, which despite their stated intentions, was not meant to be interim at all. (HH3) As the People's Navy had been publicly held responsible for the Harris Assassination, the Committee adopted a Stalinist-like policy of "collective responsibility" toward its military, which amounted to executing commanders who failed to perform as expected in the field. This policy would ultimately prove to be something of a detriment as the war with Manticore went on.
In theory a democratic body in which a majority vote determined policy, the de facto leaders of the Committee were Pierre, Saint-Just, and Cordelia Ransom. This triumvirate repeatedly purged rebellious or potentially dangerous factions from the Committee, often by playing them against each other. Saint-Just's absolute control of State Security and Ransom's equivalent power over Public Information gave them far more authority than other Committee members, while Pierre possessed both Saint-Just's personal loyalty and the unequaled prestige of having "saved" Haven from a "military coup" in addition to his official position as Chairman.
By 1913 PD, the constant purges as well as the Leveler Uprising had resulted in a Committee utterly obedient to Pierre's will, with all of the opposing factions having wiped each other out. The sole exception to this was Esther McQueen, a Navy admiral who was brought in as the new Secretary of War to break the string of defeats the Navy had suffered. Possessing a great deal of ambition of and charisma, several of the Commitee's members considered McQueen a potential threat to their power, yet unlike most of their previous military leaders, McQueen couldn't simply be shot for failure since Pierre desperately needed military victories, and for a time McQueen was the only commander who seemed capable of producing them. (HHA1.3: AWoG, HH8)
McQueen Coup Attempt
In 1914 PD, Admiral McQueen staged a coup that succeeded in killing Chairman Pierre, gaining the ostensible support of a few Committee members and control over nearly all the other survivors. However, Saint-Just remained at large and ended the coup attempt, killing every member of the Committee under McQueen's control and the Navy's entire command structure by detonating a hidden nuclear device under the Octagon, the Navy's headquarters in Nouveau Paris. (HHA3.2: N, HH9)
Saint-Just became the new Chairman of the Committee by default, and by extension sole ruler of the People's Republic, but in 1915 PD Saint-Just was killed by Admiral Thomas Theisman. Deciding to pick up where McQueen had left off, Theisman launched a coup of his own, crushing the last remnants of the Committee of Public Safety's government. Along with his supporters, Theisman restored the original Republic of Haven. (HH9)
Known members of the Committee
Originally there were 87 members of the Committee. In 1911 PD there were twenty four members of the Committee (during the Leveler Uprising). In 1913 PD the Committee had 26 members.
- Chairman of the Committee:
- Secretary of State Security - office abolished after the overthrow of the People's Republic
- Oscar Saint-Just, (1905–1915), second in charge person within the Committee
- Secretary of Public Information, office abolished after the overthrow of the People's Republic:
- Secretary of War
- Secretary of the Treasury
- Avram Turner (1912-1914 PD) - a junior member of the Committee
- Secretary of Technology:
- Wanda Farley (until 1914 PD)
- Secretary for Foreign Affairs:
- minor members:
The Committee of Public Safety was the successor to the Military Cabinet of the Legislaturalist era. The succesors to the Committee itself were the Eloise Pritchart's interim government, followed by the Presidential Cabinet of the restored Republic of Haven.
- The real-world Committee of Public Safety, the Comité de salut public, was France's de facto ruling body during a short, bloody period after the French Revolution referred to as the Reign of Terror.