Alexandre Millerand

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Alexandre Millerand
Alexandre Millerand (cropped).jpg
Millerand in 1920
President of France
In office
23 September 1920 – 11 June 1924
Prime MinisterGeorges Leygues
Aristide Briand
Raymond Poincaré
Frédéric François-Marsal
Preceded byPaul Deschanel
Succeeded byGaston Doumergue
Prime Minister of France
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
20 January 1920 – 23 September 1920
PresidentRaymond Poincaré
Paul Deschanel
Preceded byGeorges Clemenceau
Succeeded byGeorges Leygues
Minister of War
In office
26 August 1914 – 29 October 1915
Prime MinisterRené Viviani
Preceded byAdolphe Messimy
Succeeded byJoseph Gallieni
In office
14 January 1912 – 12 January 1913
Prime MinisterRaymond Poincaré
Preceded byAdolphe Messimy
Succeeded byAlbert Lebrun
Minister of Public Works, Posts and Telegraphs
In office
24 July 1909 – 3 November 1910
Prime MinisterAristide Briand
Preceded byLouis Barthou
Succeeded byLouis Puech
Minister of Commerce, Industry, Posts and Telegraphs
In office
22 June 1899 – 7 June 1902
Prime MinisterPierre Waldeck-Rousseau
Preceded byPaul Delombre
Succeeded byGeorges Trouillot
Personal details
Born(1859-02-10)10 February 1859
Paris, France
Died6 April 1943(1943-04-06) (aged 84)
Versailles, Occupied France
Political partyFrench Socialist Party
Republican-Socialist Party
(m. 1898; his d. 1943)
ChildrenJean (1899–1972)
Alice (1902–80)
Jacques (1904–79)
Marthe (1909–75)
Alma materUniversity of Paris
ProfessionLawyer, journalist

Alexandre Millerand (French: [alɛksɑ̃dʁ milʁɑ̃]; (1859-02-10)10 February 1859 – (1943-04-06)6 April 1943) was a French politician. He was Prime Minister of France from 20 January to 23 September 1920 and President of France from 23 September 1920 to 11 June 1924. His participation in Waldeck-Rousseau's cabinet at the start of the 20th century, alongside the Marquis de Galliffet, who had directed the repression of the 1871 Paris Commune, sparked a debate in the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO) and in the Second International about the participation of socialists in bourgeois governments.


Early activism[edit]

Born in Paris, he was educated for the bar and was elected Secrétaire of the Conférence des avocats du barreau de Paris. He made his reputation through his defence, in company with Georges Laguerre, of Ernest Roche and Duc-Quercy, the instigators of the strike at Decazeville in 1883. He then took Laguerre's place on Georges Clemenceau's newspaper, La Justice. He was a freemason[1] between 1883 and 1905.

He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies for the Seine département in 1885 as a Radical Socialist. He was associated with Clemenceau and Camille Pelletan as an arbitrator in the Carmaux strike (1892). He had long had the ear of the Chamber in matters of social legislation, and after the Panama scandals had discredited so many politicians, his influence grew.

He was chief of the Independent Socialist faction, a group which then mustered sixty members. Until 1896, he edited their organ in the press, La Petite République. His programme included the collective ownership of the means of production and the international association of labour.

Government minister[edit]

In June 1899 he entered Pierre Waldeck-Rousseau's cabinet of "republican defence" as Minister of Commerce. In contrast to his earlier activism, he now limited himself to practical reforms, devoting his attention to the improvement of the merchant marine, to the development of trade, of technical education, of the postal system, and to the amelioration of the conditions of labour. Labour questions were entrusted to a separate department, the Direction du Travail, and the pension and insurance office was also raised to the status of a "direction".

In 1902, he did not join fellow independent socialist Jean Jaurès in forming the Parti Socialiste Français, but in 1907 instead formed the small Independent Socialist Party, which became the Republican-Socialist Party (PRS) in 1911. His influence with the far-left had already declined, for it was said that his departure from the true Marxist tradition had disintegrated the movement.

In 1909/1910, he served as Minister of Public Works, Posts and Telegraphs.

As labour minister[when?], he was responsible for the introduction of a wide range of reforms, including the reduction in the maximum workday from 11 to 10 hours in 1904, the introduction of an 8-hour workday for postal employees, the prescribing of maximum hours and minimum wages for all work undertaken by public authorities, the bringing of workers' representatives into the Conseil supérieur de travail, the establishment of arbitration tribunals and inspectors of labour, and the creation of a labour section inside his Ministry of Commerce to tackle the problem of social insurance.

The introduction of trade union representatives on the Supreme Labour Council, the organisation of local labour councils, and instructions to factory inspectors to put themselves in communication with the councils of the trade unions were valuable concessions to labour. He further secured the rigorous application of earlier laws devised for the protection of the working class. His name was especially associated with a project for the establishment of old age pensions, which became law in 1905. In 1898, he became editor of La Lanterne.

Milleranc twice served as Minister of War, first from 1912 to 1913 and again, during the early stages of World War I, from 1914 to 1915.

Prime minister[edit]

Millerand continued to move to the right, being appointed Prime Minister by the conservative President, Paul Deschanel. During his time as Prime Minister, a decree of February 1920 introduced the eight-hour day for seamen.

Presidency and later years[edit]

When Deschanel had to resign later in 1920 due to his mental disorder, Millerand emerged as a compromise candidate for President between the Bloc National and the remnants of the Bloc des gauches. Millerand appointed Georges Leygues, a politician with a long career of ministerial office, as Prime Minister and attempted to strengthen the executive powers of the Presidency. This move was resisted in the Chamber of Deputies and the French Senate, and Millerand was forced to appoint a stronger figure, Aristide Briand. Briand's appointment was welcomed by both left and right, although the Socialists and the left wing of the Radical Party did not join his government.

However, Millerand dismissed Briand after just a year, and appointed the conservative republican Raymond Poincaré.

Millerand was accused of favouring conservatives in spite of the traditional neutrality of French Presidents and the composition of the legislature. On 14 July 1922, Millerand escaped an assassination attempt by Gustave Bouvet, a young French anarchist. Two years later, Millerand resigned in the face of growing conflict between the elected legislature and the office of the President, following the victory of the Cartel des Gauches. Gaston Doumergue, who was the president of the Senate at the time, was chosen to replace Millerand.

Millerand's grave in the Passy Cemetery.

Millerand died in 1943 at Versailles, and was interred in the Passy Cemetery. He was awarded Serbian Order of Karađorđe's Star.[2]

Millerand's Ministry, 20 January 1920 – 24 September 1920[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Initiated in ""L'Amitiée Lodge"" on may 21st of 1883 (Histoire de la Franc-maçonnerie en France - Faucher and Ricker 1967).
  2. ^ Acović, Dragomir (2012). Slava i čast: Odlikovanja među Srbima, Srbi među odlikovanjima. Belgrade: Službeni Glasnik. p. 643.


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Millerand, Alexandre". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. Endnotes:
    • For his administration in the Waldeck-Rousseau cabinet see A. Lavy, L'Œuvre de Millerand (1902);
    • his speeches between 1899 and 1907 were published in 1907 as Travail et travailleurs.

Further reading[edit]

  • Sowerine, Charles (2009). France since 1870: Culture, Politics and Society (2nd ed.). Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Cobban, Alfred (1990). A History Of Modern France 1871-1962. 3. Penguin Books.
  • The Encyclopædia Britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information, Volume 31 by Hugh Chisholm

External links[edit]

Media related to Alexandre Millerand at Wikimedia Commons

Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Commerce, Industry, Posts and Telegraphs
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Public Works, Posts and Telegraphs
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of War
Succeeded by
Minister of War
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Foreign Affairs
Preceded by President of France
Succeeded by
Regnal titles
Preceded by Co-Prince of Andorra
Served alongside:
Justí Guitart i Vilardebó
Succeeded by