Casimir Pierre Périer

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Casimir Pierre Perier
Perier, Casimir - 1.jpg
11th Prime Minister of France
In office
13 March 1831 – 16 May 1832
Monarch Louis Philippe I
Preceded by Jacques Laffitte
Succeeded by Duc de Dalmatie
Personal details
Born (1777-10-11)11 October 1777
Grenoble
Died 16 May 1832(1832-05-16) (aged 54)
Paris
Political party Orléanist

Casimir Pierre Perier (11 October 1777 – 16 May 1832) was a French statesman, President of the Council during the July Monarchy, when he headed the conservative Parti de la résistance (Party of Resistance).

Life[edit]

Born in Grenoble, he was the fourth son of a rich banker and manufacturer, Claude Perier (1742–1801), in whose house the estates of Dauphiné met in 1788. Claude Perier was one of the first directors of the Banque de France. Three of his eight sons, Casimir (1777–1832), Scipion (1776–1821) and Joseph (1786–1866) were in the forefront of business and finance during the Bourbon Restoration. The family moved to Paris after the Thermidorian Reaction (1794), and Casimir joined the Army of Italy in 1798.

On his father's death in 1801, Casimir Perier left the army and with his brother Scipion founded a bank in Paris, the speculations of which Casimir directed while Scipion took on its administration. Joseph Perier became a partner in 1822. Two of the most important clients of the bank were the Anzin Mining Company, the leading coal mining firm in northern France, and the Perier foundry at Chaillot, purchased by Scipion Perier in 1818 and famous for its manufacture of early steam engines. In 1818 the Perier brothers were instrumental in the establishment in Paris of the first French savings bank. In 1821 Casimir Perier became chairman of the board of directors of the Anzin Mining Company; and in that same year he succeeded his brother Scipion as a director of the Bank of France. During the 1820s the Perier bank invested in the canal construction program in France. In 1825 the bank helped sponsor an attempt at joint stock investment banking,the Societe Commanditaire de l'Industrie,for mining, metallurgy, canal construction and land development. Casimir Perier's wide-ranging business interests and investments help to explain his opposition in the Chamber of Deputies to financial policies of Restoration ministries. He opposed, for example, the ruinous methods by which the duc de Richelieu sought to raise the war indemnity demanded by the Allies, in a pamphlet Réflexions sur le projet d'emprunt (1817), followed in the same year by Dernières réflexions in answer to an inspired article in the Moniteur.

In the same year, Perier entered the Chamber of Deputies for Paris, taking his seat in the Left Centre with the moderate opposition, and making his first speech in defence of the freedom of the press. Re-elected for Paris in 1822 and 1824, and in 1827 for Paris and for Troyes, he elected to represent Troyes, and sat for that constituency until his death. Perier's violence in debate was not associated with any disloyalty to the Bourbon Restoration, and he held resolutely aloof from the Republican conspiracies and intrigues which prepared the way for the revolution of 1830. Under the Martignac ministry, there was some prospect of a reconciliation with the court, and, in January 1829, he was nominated a candidate for the presidency of the chamber; but in August with the elevation to power of Jules, Prince de Polignac, the truce ceased, and on 15 March 1830, Perier was one of the 221 deputies who repudiated the Ordinances put forward by Charles X.

Averse by instinct and by interest to popular revolution, Perier nevertheless sat on the provisory commission of five at the Hôtel de Ville during the Three Glorious Days of July 1830, but he refused to sign the declaration of Charles X's dethronement. Perier reluctantly recognized in the government of Louis Philippe's constitutional monarchy the only alternative to the continuance of the Revolution, but he was no favorite with the new king, whom he scorned for his truckling to the mob. He became President of the Chamber of Deputies, and sat for a few months in the cabinet, though without a portfolio.

President of the Council[edit]

On the fall of the weak and discredited ministry of Jacques Laffitte, Perier, who had drifted more and more to the Right, was summoned to power (13 March 1831), and, in the short space of a year, he more or less restored civic order in France and re-established her credit in Europe. Paris was in a constant state of disturbance from March to September, and was only held in check by the premier's determination. The Canut Revolt at Lyon was suppressed after hard fighting; and at Grenoble, in face of the quarrels between the military and the inhabitants, Perier declined to make any concession to the townsfolk.

As a minister, Perier refused to be dragged into armed intervention in favor of the revolutionary government of Warsaw, but his policy of peace did not exclude energetic demonstrations in support of French interests. He constituted France the protector of Belgium by the prompt expedition of the army of the north against the Dutch in August 1831. French influence in Italy was asserted by the audacious occupation of Ancona (23 February 1832); and the refusal of compensation for injuries to French residents by the Portuguese government was followed by a naval demonstration at Lisbon.

Casimir Pierre Perier's gravesite in Paris's Père Lachaise Cemetery, 2005.

Perier had undertaken the premiership with many forebodings, and overwork and anxiety prepared the way for disease. In the spring of 1832, during the cholera outbreak in Paris, he visited the hospitals in company with Prince Ferdinand Philippe, Duke of Orléans. He fell ill the next day of a violent fever, and died six weeks later.

His son Auguste Casimir-Perier (1811–1876) was also a French politician, and his family continued to be prominent in French politics for generations.

References[edit]

  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  • His Opinions et discours were edited by A. Lesieur (2 vols., 1838); C. Nicoullaud published in 1894 the first part (Casimir-Perier, député de l'opposition, 1817–1830) of a study of his life and policy; and his ministry is exhaustively treated by Paul Thureau-Dangin in vols. 1. and ii. (1884) of his Histoire de la monarchie de juillet.
  • For the family in general see E. Choulet, La Famille Casimir Perier (Grenoble, 1894).
  • For the Perier bank, see Richard J. Barker, "The Perier Bank During the Restoration," Journal of European Economic History, Vol 2, No 3 (Winter 1973). For Casimir's business career, see Richard J. Barker, "Casimir Perier & William Ternaux: Two French Capitalists" (Duke Univ, 1958).
Preceded by
Jacques Laffitte
Prime Minister of France
1831–1832
Succeeded by
Duc de Dalmatie
Preceded by
Comte de Montalivet
French Minister of the Interior
1831–1832
Succeeded by
Comte de Montalivet