Charles de Freycinet

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Charles de Freycinet
Freycinet2.jpg
43rd Prime Minister of France
In office
28 December 1879 – 23 September 1880
Preceded by William Waddington
Succeeded by Jules Ferry
46th Prime Minister of France
In office
30 January 1882 – 7 August 1882
Preceded by Léon Gambetta
Succeeded by Charles Duclerc
51st Prime Minister of France
In office
7 January 1886 – 16 December 1886
Preceded by Henri Brisson
Succeeded by René Goblet
57th Prime Minister of France
In office
17 March 1890 – 27 February 1892
Preceded by Pierre Tirard
Succeeded by Émile Loubet
Personal details
Born (1828-11-14)14 November 1828
Foix
Died 14 May 1923(1923-05-14) (aged 94)
Paris
Political party None
Religion Protestant [1]

Charles Louis de Saulces de Freycinet (French: [ʃaʁl də fʁɛjsinɛ]; 14 November 1828 – 14 May 1923) was a French statesman and four times Prime Minister during the Third Republic. He also served an important term as Minister of War (1888-93). He belonged to the Opportunist Republicans faction.

He was elected a member of the Academy of Sciences, and in 1890, the fourteenth member to occupy a seat in the Académie française.

Biography[edit]

Early years[edit]

Freycinet was born at Foix (Ariège) of a Protestant family and was the nephew of Louis de Freycinet, a French navigator. Charles Freycinet was educated at the École Polytechnique. He entered government service as a mining engineer (see X-Mines). In 1858 he was appointed traffic manager to the Compagnie de chemins de fer du Midi, a post in which he showed a remarkable talent for organization, and in 1862 returned to the engineering service, attaining in 1886 the rank of inspector-general. He was sent on several special scientific missions, including one to the UK, on which he wrote a notable Mémoire sur le travail des femmes et des enfants dans les manufactures de l'Angleterre (1867).

Government service[edit]

On the establishment of the Third Republic in September 1870, he offered his services to Léon Gambetta, was appointed prefect of the department of Tarn-et-Garonne, and in October became chief of the military cabinet. It was mainly Freycinet's powers of organization which enabled Gambetta to raise army after army to oppose the invading Germans. He revealed himself to be a competent strategist, but the policy of dictating operations to the generals in the field was not attended with happy results. The friction between him and General d'Aurelle de Paladines resulted in the loss of the advantage temporarily gained at Orleans, and he was responsible for the campaign in the east, which ended in the destruction of the army of Charles Denis Bourbaki.

In 1871 he published a defence of his administration under the title of La Guerre en province pendant le siège de Paris. He entered the Senate in 1876 as a follower of Gambetta, and in December 1877 became Minister of Public Works in the cabinet of Jules Armand Stanislaus Dufaure. He passed a great scheme for the gradual acquisition of the railways by the state and the construction of new lines at a cost of three milliards, and for the development of the canal system at a further cost of one milliard. He retained his post in the ministry of William Henry Waddington, whom he succeeded in December 1879 as Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs. He passed an amnesty for the Communards, but in attempting to steer a middle course (between the Catholics and the anti-clericalists) on the question of the religious associations, he lost Gambetta's support, and resigned in September 1880.

In January 1882 he again became Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. His refusal to join Britain in the bombardment of Alexandria was the death-knell of French influence in Egypt. He attempted to compromise by occupying the Isthmus of Suez, but the vote of credit was rejected in the Chamber by 417 votes to 75, and the ministry resigned. He returned to office in April 1885 as Foreign Minister in Henri Brisson's cabinet, and retained that post when, in January 1886, he succeeded to the premiership.

He came to power with an ambitious programme of internal reform; but apart from settling the question of the exiled pretenders, his successes were chiefly in the sphere of colonial extension. In spite of his unrivalled skill as a parliamentary tactician, he failed to keep his party together, and was defeated on 3 December 1886. In the following year, after two unsuccessful attempts to construct new ministries, he stood for the Presidency of the Republic; but the radicals, to whom his opportunism was distasteful, turned the scale against him by transferring the votes to Marie François Sadi Carnot.

Minister of War[edit]

In April 1888 he became Minister of War in Charles Floquet's cabinet — the first civilian since 1848 to hold that office. His services to France in this capacity were the crowning achievement of his life, and he enjoyed the conspicuous honour of holding his office without a break for five years through as many successive administrations — those of Floquet and Pierre Tirard, his own fourth ministry (March 1890 – February 1892), and the Émile Loubet and Alexandre Ribot ministries. The introduction of the three-years' service and the establishment of a general staff, a supreme council of war, and the army commands were all due to him. His premiership was marked by heated debates on the clerical question, and it was a hostile vote on his Bill against the religious associations that caused the fall of his cabinet. He failed to clear himself entirely of complicity in the Panama scandals, and in January 1893 resigned the Ministry of War.

In November 1898 he once again became Minister of War in the Charles Dupuy cabinet, but resigned office on 6 May 1899.

Prime Minister of France[edit]

1st Ministry[edit]

Changes
  • 17 May 1880 – Ernest Constans succeeds Lepère as Minister of the Interior and Worship.

2nd Ministry[edit]

3rd Ministry[edit]

Changes
  • 4 November 1886 – Édouard Millaud succeeds Baïhaut as Minister of Public Works

4th Ministry[edit]

Publications[edit]

  • Traité de mécanique rationnelle (1858)
  • De l'analyse infinitésimale (1860, revised ed., 1881)
  • Des pentes économiques en chemin de fer (1861)
  • Emploi des eaux d'égout en agriculture (1869)
  • Principes de l'assainissement des villes (1870)
  • Traité d'assainissement industriel (1870)
  • Essai sur la philosophie des sciences (1896)
  • La Question d'Égypte (1905)
  • Contemporain: 'Pensées contributed under the pseudonym of Alceste"

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Michel Graëff
Minister of Public Works
1877–1879
Succeeded by
Henri Varroy
Preceded by
William Waddington
Prime Minister of France
1879–1880
Succeeded by
Jules Ferry
Minister of Foreign Affairs
1879–1880
Succeeded by
Jules Barthélemy-Saint-Hilaire
Preceded by
Léon Gambetta
Prime Minister of France
1882
Succeeded by
Charles Duclerc
Minister of Foreign Affairs
1882
Preceded by
Jules Ferry
Minister of Foreign Affairs
1885–1886
Succeeded by
Émile Flourens
Preceded by
Henri Brisson
Prime Minister of France
1886
Succeeded by
René Goblet
Preceded by
François Auguste Logerot
Minister of War
1888–1893
Succeeded by
Julien Léon Loizillon
Preceded by
Pierre Tirard
Prime Minister of France
1890–1892
Succeeded by
Émile Loubet
Preceded by
Charles Chanoine
Minister of War
1898–1899
Succeeded by
Camille Krantz
Preceded by
Minister of State
1915–1916
Succeeded by