ONE OF THE MOST eccentric and fascinating individuals of history is unquestionably Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Comte de Saint-Simon (1760–1825). Born into wealth and privilege as an aristocrat in Paris, France, in 1760, Saint-Simon felt himself destined for greatness from early on; his family claimed no less than to be direct descendants of Charlemagne. Apparently, he exhorted his valet to remind him upon awakening each day, “Remember, Monsieur le Comte, you have great things to do.”

As a young man, Saint-Simon served in the French army as an officer in the American Revolution, distinguishing himself at the battle of Yorktown. Upon returning to France, Saint-Simon found himself caught up in the throes of the French Revolution. He welcomed the end of the French Old Regime but ...

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