A web site about the social and political thinker, framer of the modern science of public administration.





Bonnin, Charles-Jean Baptiste (France, October 4, 1772 - † ? October 1846) was born in Paris, in a family with roots in Burgundy. He conducted his studies at the Four Nations College. Afterward he served the French administration as an official in the Seine department. His parents had planned for him a career as medical doctor, project frustrated by the events of the French Revolution, a fact that inspired in Charles-Jean Bonnin a deep interest for political issues. His true vocation born early during his youth, thanks to the works of Montesquieu, Mably, Bacon, Fenelon and Cornelius, to whom he professed great admiration. He met Auguste Comte in 1829, becoming his friend until his death.

Amongst many references to him during his lifetime, the work of M. Lemonier stands out. It is entitled Notice Historique, ‘Historical Record’, and heads the work named Pensées, ‘Thoughts’, of C.J.B. Bonnin. This document was promoted by Bonnin and, maybe, was reviewed by him also. Inside of the French administration files some references to him can be found, like his possible membership to franc-masonry. Also, by these files we know that he spent thirteenth months in prison due to certain passages of his book Études Législatives, ‘Legislative Studies’, where he criticized Catholicism.

The Encyclopedic Magazine or reasoned analysis of the most remarkable productions of France, edition of 1829, highlights the publication of the third edition of the Principles of Public Administration, there is an overview of the most important contents of the work and say it is a book full of wisdom and useful ideas, the author shaped with elegance, accuracy and clarity.

Today, because his main work, ‘Principles of Public Administration’, has been re-edited and published on-line - in the original French version and in a Spanish translation - is easier to access to it. However, this is mainly thanks to the edition produced by Mexico’s Fondo de Cultura Económica in 2004. Nowadays, his countrymen are paying him the tribute he deserves. Georges Langrod rightly claimed that “the science of administration, in the modern sense of the expression, was born in France in the nineteenth century. Its pioneer was Charles-Jean Bonnin, author of ‘Principles of Public Administration’, whose first edition dates back to 1808. Likewise, Jacques Chevallier and Dániele Loschak have commented that “he can be considered the true founder of French administrative science.” Nevertheless, Charles-Jean Bonnin is more than that, much more: he is the founder of the worldwide science of Public Administration. Most recently, Jacqueline Morand-Devillier suggested a reprint of his ‘Principles’, in its first edition precisely. Notwithstanding, this publication was made in the year 2004, not in France but in Mexico.