Severiano de Heredia

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Severiano de Heredia
Severiano de Heredia.jpg
Paris municipal council
In office
April 1873 – 1881
Deputy of the National Assembly
In office
21 August 1881 – 11 November 1889
Personal details
Born (1836-11-08)November 8, 1836
Havana, Cuba
Died February 9, 1901(1901-02-09) (aged 64)
Paris, France
Resting place Batignolles Cemetery, Paris, France
Citizenship Spanish, French
Political party Republican Union (1881–1885)
Radical Left (1885–1889)

Severiano de Heredia (8 November 1836 – 9 February 1901)[1] was a Cuban-born biracial[2] politician, a freemason,[3] a left-wing republican,[4] naturalized as French in 1870,[5] who was president of the municipal council of Paris[6] from 1 August 1879 to 12 February 1880, making him the first mayor[note 1] of African descent of a Western world capital.[8] He served in the Chamber of Deputies from 1881 to 1889 and was minister of public works for the cabinet of Maurice Rouvier in 1887, where he planned and oversaw the construction of some of the finest French highways. He also made his reputation by campaigning for the abolition of slavery in Cuba and Brazil.[9] He is believed to be a cousin of the famous French poet José-Maria de Heredia.


Personal life[edit]

Severiano de Heredia was born in Havana, Cuba, to Henri de Heredia and Beatrice Cardenas.[10] At the age of 10 he was sent by his godfather, Heredia y Campuzano, to France for his education, attending the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris.[10][11] He applied for French citizenship which was granted under the Ministerial Decree of 28 September 1870.[5]

He married at Paris, 3 November 1868, Henriette Hanaire, by whom he had a son in 1869, Henri-Ignace, and a daughter in 1873, Marcelle. His son tragically died in an accident at Wimereux at the age of twelve and was buried at Cimetière des Batignolles on 4 September 1882. His daughter studied at the Paris Medical School, became a notable neurophysiologist[12] and formed a team with her husband, the neurophysiologist Louis Lapicque.[13]

Political career[edit]

In 1871, while he was assuming the role of a conciliator,[14] he published a political essay entitled “Paix et plébiscite”[note 2] in which he pleaded for a democratic end to the Franco-Prussian war.[15]

He entered politics as a radical Republican and was elected in April 1873 to be a member of the City Council of Paris,[16] for the Ternes and Plaine-de-Monceaux neighborhoods[note 3].[17] In 1879, he was elected president of the municipal council of Paris, and in August 1881 member to the Chamber of Deputies, where he stayed until he was defeated at the election of 1889 by a Boulangist opponent.[18] On 30 May 1887, he was appointed Minister of Public Works in the government of Maurice Bouvier, until 11 December 1887. On retiring from politics he devoted himself to the history of literature.[19]

Severiano de Heredia was also an active Freemason. Initiated in 1866 in the “Étoile polaire”[note 4] lodge of Paris, he became Worshipfull Master of his lodge, and then Deputy of Grand Orient of France in 1875, and President of the Masonic Orphanage.[3] Within this framework, Severiano de Heredia took part to the first French Congress for Women's Rights in 1878, as a French representative of the intended Committee of Initiative, at the Masonic Grand Orient.[20]


Severiano de Heredia died at his home in Paris on 9 February 1901.[1] Some one hundred and ten years after his death, historian Paul Estrade found no remaining public recognition for his career in his thoroughly researched biography.[21] The Mairie de Paris announced in 2013 that a walkway in the 17th arrondissement of Paris will be dedicated to de Heredia in the name of equality and diversity.[22] In 2015, a walkway in front of a new building was named rue Severiano de Heredia. In the naming ceremony, the then mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, spoke:[23]


  • L'appel au peuple : Paix ou guerre ? (1870)
  • Faisons la paix (1871)
  • Paix et plébiscite (1871)
  • Société des écoles laïques... Appel aux habitants du 17e arrondissement (1873)

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]


  • Sabine Faivre d'Arcier: Los tres Heredia [The three Heredia], La Habana : Imagen Contemporánea (2012), in Spanish. ISBN 9789592930216
  • Paul Estrade: Severiano de Heredia. Ce mulâtre cubain que Paris fit “ maire ”, et la République, ministre [Severiano de Heredia. This Cuban mulatto that Paris came to be “mayor”, and the Republic Minister], series: “ La boutique de l'histoire ”, Les Indes savantes (15 July 2011), in French. ISBN 9782846542708


  1. ^ Although the city of Paris did not have an elected mayor between 1871 and 1977, the title of President of the municipal council during that period would be the equivalent of the actual position of Mayor. As Nicolas Theodet explained, Severiano de Heredia was elected as the head of the Council of Paris in 1879, thereby becoming the equivalent of the time of mayor.[7]
  2. ^ Peace and referendum
  3. ^ Both neighbourhoods are part of the 17th arrondissement of Paris.
  4. ^ Pole Star or North Star


  1. ^ a b Luquiens, Corinne, ed. (15 April 2014). "Severiano DE HÉRÉDIA". Base de données historique des anciens députés – Assemblée nationale (in French). Paris, France: Secrétariat générale de l'Assemblée nationale. Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  2. ^ National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (November 1915). Burghardt Du Bois, William Edward, ed. The Crisis (PDF). 11. New York, USA: Crisis Publishing Company. p. 22. Retrieved 31 July 2015. Jose Maria Heredia, the king of sonnets crowned by the French Academy, was a white man but Severiano de Heredia, who held high post under the French government, was of Negroid descent and this is amply verified not only by LaRousse, encyclopaedia but by his family, some of whom still survive him. 
  3. ^ a b Kupferman, Laurent; Pierrat, Emmanuel (4 October 2012). Ce que la France doit aux francs-maçons… et ce qu'elle ne leur doit pas [What France does and does not owe to Freemasons…]. Actualités Enquêtes (in French). Paris, F: Éditions First & First Interactive. ISBN 978-2-7540-3221-6. 
  4. ^ Raitt, Alan William (1981). The Life of Villiers De I'Isle-Adam. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press. p. 202. ISBN 978-0-1981-5771-7. Retrieved 31 July 2015. He had two opponents, the sitting councillor Severiano de Heredia, a Cuban-born left-wing republican who later became a minister, and a fringe 'collectivist' called Couturat. 
  5. ^ a b Adolphe Crémieux, Minister of Justice (June 1871). Bulletin des lois de la République française [Bulletin of acts of the French Republic] (in French). Paris, F: Imprimerie nationale. p. 35. Retrieved 18 October 2015. N° 48. – DÉCRET (signé par le membre et délégué du Gouvernement de la défense nationale, garde des sceaux, ministre de la justice) qui admet à jouir des droits de citoyen français le sieur de Heredia (Severiano), né le 8 novembre 1836, à la Havane (île espagnole de Cuba), sans profession, demeurant à Paris. (Tours, 28 Septembre 1870.) 
  6. ^ Piñeyro, Enrique (1907). "José María Heredia". Bulletin Hispanique (in Spanish). Bordeaux, France: Presses Universitaires de Bordeaux. 9 (2): 187. doi:10.3406/hispa.1907.1527. ISSN 0007-4640. Retrieved 6 February 2017 – via Persée. … niño que fué adoptado como hijo por su viuda, dama de origen francés, y llamado Severiano de Heredia; que recibió su educación en Francia y llegó á ser primero Concejal de París, luego miembro de la Cámara de Diputados y por último Ministro de Obras Públicas de la República francesa. 
  7. ^ Theodet, Nicolas (28 April 2013). "En 1879, le maire de Paris était noir" [In 1879, the Mayor of Paris was black]. Le Figaro (in French). Retrieved 6 February 2017. Il est ensuite élu à la tête du Conseil de Paris en 1879, devenant ainsi l'équivalent du maire de l'époque. 
  8. ^ Triay, Philippe (10 December 2012). "L'incroyable destin de Severiano de Heredia" [The incredible fate of Severiano de Heredia]. France Info (in French). Paris, F: France Télévisions. Retrieved 6 February 2017. 
  9. ^ Dadd, Nelo (1 June 2010). Disperse. Bloomington (Indiana), USA: Xlibris Corporation. p. 210. ISBN 978-1-4535-0589-2. Retrieved 17 April 2013. Severiano de Heredia. A Cuban Negro was minister of public works for France in the Rouvier cabinet in 1888. Heredia planned and built some of France's finest highways. He also worked for the abolition of slavery in Cuba and Brazil. 
  10. ^ a b Agapé, Sélène (7 August 2015). "Paris 1879: Severiano de Heredia, le mulâtre dans les hautes sphères de la République" [Paris 1879, Severiano de Heredia: the mulatto at the highest level of the Republic]. The Huffington Post (in French). Paris, F. Retrieved 10 February 2016. 
  11. ^ Noiriel, Gérard (13 January 2016). Chocolat, la véritable histoire de l'homme sans nom [The true story of Chocolat, the man without name] (in French). Paris, F: Bayard Presse. ISBN 978-2-227-48617-1. Retrieved 8 February 2016. À Paris, Severiano de Heredia, fils d'un aristocrate de La Havane, devint un membre actif du parti radical, après des études au lycée Louis-le-Grand, ce qui lui permit d'être élu conseiller municipal, puis député. .
  12. ^ Ogilvie, Marilyn Bailey; Harvey, Joy Dorothy (2000). "Lapicque, Marcelle (de Heredia) (1873–ca.1962)". The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science: L-Z. New York (New York), USA: Taylor & Francis. pp. 745–746. ISBN 978-0-4159-2040-7. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  13. ^ Lykknes, Annette; Opitz, Donald L.; Van Tiggelen, Brigitte, eds. (2012). For Better or For Worse? Collaborative Couples in the Sciences. Science Networks Historical Studies. 44. Basel, D: Birkhäuser. pp. 66–67. doi:10.1007/978-3-0348-0286-4. ISBN 978-3-0348-0750-0. Retrieved 19 October 2015. .
  14. ^ du Puy de Clinchamps, Philippe; de Villeneuve, Gérard (1979). L'Intermédiaire des Chercheurs et Curieux [The Intermediary of the Researchers and Curious] (in French). N° 334 to 345. Paris, F: Au Siège de la Rédaction. p. 371. Retrieved 18 October 2015. …naturalisé français en 1870, il fut conciliateur en 1871, conseiller municipal de Paris (1873–1885), député de la Seine… 
  15. ^ de Heredia, Severiano (1871). Paix et plébiscite [Peace and referendum]. Tours, F: Imprimerie Mame. p. 24. Retrieved 18 October 2015. Il est temps d'en finir avec les guerres périodiques et les boucheries humaines. 
  16. ^ Estrade, Paul (1994). Instituto Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, eds. Pasando revista a los periódicos cubanos publicados en Paris en la segunda mitad del siglo XIX [Critical analysis and synopsis of Cuban newspapers published in Paris in the second half of the 19th century]. Revista de Indias (in Spanish). 54. Instituto de Historia, Departamento de Historia de América. Madrid, ES: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. pp. 191–209. ISSN 0034-8341. Retrieved 17 October 2015. …y elección como concejal del Ayuntamiento de París de un cubano nacimiento, Severiano de Heredia (n° 86 de 20 abril de 1873). 
  17. ^ Chamouard, Patrick; Weill, Georges J.; Girard-Busson, Blandine (1985). Députés et sénateurs de la région parisienne de 1848 à 1984 [Deputies and senators of the Paris region from 1848 to 1984] (in French). Nanterre, F: Archives départementales des Hauts-de-Seine. p. 139. ISBN 2-86092-003-X. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  18. ^ McCloy, Shelby Thomas (5 February 2015) [first published 1966]. The Negro in the French West Indies. University Press of Kentucky. p. 163. ISBN 978-0-8131-6396-3. Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  19. ^ Kanyarwunga, Jean (16 December 2013). "France: Severiano de Heredia, First Black Mayor of Paris and current racial prejudice in the West". History of Africa Otherwise. Geneva, CH: Blogger. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  20. ^ Bidelman, Patrick Kay (26 May 1982). Pariahs Stand Up!: The Founding of the Liberal Feminist Movement in France, 1858–1889 (Contributions in Women's Studies). Music Reference Collection. Book 31. Westport (Connecticut), USA: Greenwood Press. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-313-23006-6. Retrieved 11 October 2015. The nineteen French members included two senators (Victor Schoelcher and Eugene Pelletan), five deputies (Louis Codet, Tiersot, Charles Boudeville, Emile Deschanel, and Charles Laisant), three municipal councilors from Paris (Antide Martin, Georges Martin, and Severiano de Herédia)… 
  21. ^ Triay, Philippe (29 April 2013). "Quand le maire de Paris était noir" (in French). Réseau Outre-Mer 1re. Retrieved 6 February 2017. 
  22. ^ "La Ville de Paris poursuit ses objectifs de parité et de diversité, en distinguant une cinquantaine de personnalités remarquables dans l'espace public" (Press release) (in French). Mairie de Paris. 9 September 2013. Archived from the original on 11 October 2014. 
  23. ^ Triay, Philippe (5 October 2015). "L'hommage de Paris à Severiano de Heredia, maire noir de la capitale et ministre de la République au XIXe siècle" (in French). Réseau Outre-Mer 1re. Retrieved 6 February 2017. Le premier maire noir de Paris puis ministre de la République française a pourtant été renié et relégué pendant longtemps parmi les oubliés de l’histoire. Nous sommes là pour sortir de cet oubli coupable.