|Encyclopaedia Britannica 11th Edition||Public Domain via Project Gutenberg|
(1835- ), French statesman, was born at Bourges on the 31st of July 1835. He followed his father's profession of advocate, and having made himself conspicuous in opposition during the last days of the empire, was appointed deputy-mayor of Paris after its overthrow. He was elected to the Assembly on the 8th of February 1871, as a member of the extreme Left. While not approving of the Commune, he was the first to propose amnesty for the condemned (on the 13th of September 1871), but the proposal was voted down. He strongly supported obligatory primary education, and was a firm anti-clerical. He was president of the chamber from 1881—replacing Gambetta—to March 1885, when he became prime minister upon the resignation of Jules Ferry; but he resigned when, after the general elections of that year, he only just obtained a majority for the vote of credit for the Tongking expedition. He remained conspicuous as a public man, took a prominent part in exposing the Panama scandals, was a powerful candidate for the presidency after the murder of President Carnot in 1894, and was again president of the chamber from December 1894 to 1898. In June of the latter year he formed a cabinet when the country was violently excited over the Dreyfus affair; his firmness and honesty increased the respect in which he was already held by good citizens, but a chance vote on an occasion of especial excitement overthrew his ministry in October. As one of the leaders of the radicals he actively supported the ministries of Waldeck-Rousseau and Combes, especially concerning the laws on the religious orders and the separation of church and state. In 1899 he was a candidate for the presidency. In May 1906 he was elected president of the chamber of deputies by 500 out of 581 votes.