He was a member of the French Chamber of Deputies for the Department of Constantine for fifty years and three months. Minister of the Navy in the Cabinets of Clemenceau and Rouvier, his tenure saw the construction of numerous warships, cruisers and battleships, improving the power of the French Navy.
On June 6, 1897 he fought a duel with fellow Deputy Leon Mirman, a Radical Socialist, in which Mirman was slightly wounded in the forearm. The duel grew out of an article written by the latter attacking Thomson.
- New York Times, June 7, 1897.
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