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Guist'hau left Réunion for Nantes to study law there, and was elected to be mayor of Nantes in 1908. He went on to become a deputy of the Assemblée nationale from 1910 to 1924. He was minister of Public Instruction and Fine Arts in 1912, minister of Commerce and Industry in 1913, and finally, minister of the Navy in 1921. As minister of the Navy, he oversaw the reconstruction of the French Navy, after the ravages of the First World War. He was elevated to Officer of the Légion d'honneur in 1924.
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