Pierre Louis Albert Decrais was a French lawyer, administrator and politician, a deputy from 1897 to 1903 a senator from 1903 to 1915. He was Minister of the Colonies from 1899 to 1902, he supported the exploitation of the colonies by concessionary companies, opposed the slave trade. During his term in office a volcanic eruption destroyed the city of Martinique. Albert Pierre Louis Decrais was born on 18 December 1838 in Gironde, he was from a bourgeois Protestant family. His parents were Louis Decrais, a merchant, Marie Désirée Debans, he graduated from the lycée in Bordeaux on 3 August 1857 went to Paris to study law, where he was a brilliant student. He was secretary of the conference of attorneys in 1862–63, won a prize for his Éloge de M. de Vatimesnil. He joined the bar of Paris and became a licensed attorney in 1867, he was moved in Republican circles. During the Franco-Prussian War Decrais was part of the diplomatic mission of Tachard in Brussels. On 2 March 1871 he was named prefect of Indre-et-Loire.
He married Marguerite Alice Dethomas, they had three children. In August 1874 he was decorated with the Legion of Honour. On 11 November 1874 he was made prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes, on 21 March 1876 he was appointed prefect of the Gironde, he resigned on 19 May 1877 in protest against the selection of Albert, 4th duc de Broglie as prime minister. He was reinstated on 20 December 1877, on 7 February 1878 was promoted to Officer of the Legion of Honor, he was appointed Councilor of State on 16 March 1879. Decrais was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary in Brussels on 8 May 1880. From 4 February 1882 to 11 November 1882 he was director of political affairs at the Foreign Ministry under the 2nd cabinet of Charles de Freycinet, he was appointed French ambassador to Italy on 11 November 1882, to Austria on 17 July 1886 and was appointed ambassador to Great Britain on 21 July 1893. He retired from the diplomatic service in 1894. From 1880 to 1886 Decrais was a member of the general council of the Gironde.
He ran for election to the legislature in 1896 for the 1st district of Bordeaux, but did not succeed. He ran as Republican candidate in a by-election for the 4th district of Bordeaux on 21 February 1897, was elected, he was reelected on 8 May 1898 and 27 April 1902. In the chamber he was interested only in foreign affairs. Decrais was Minister of the Colonies from 22 June 1899 to 3 June 1902 in the cabinet of Pierre Waldeck-Rousseau, he stated. Decrais supported the system by which companies were given concessions to exploit areas of the colonies in exchange for paying taxes and developing their areas; the number of concessions increased under his administration. The colonial governors were hostile to concessions where the companies were only concerned with maximizing profit, which were harmful in the long run; the companies themselves did poorly despite government loans. However, Decrais ignored these issues. In 1901 he set up a banking commission to look at ways of financing the companies, with the end result that taxpayers paid the salaries and dividends of the exploiting companies.
In October 1899 Decrais reorganized the Sudan so that the southern cercles were attached to the coastal colonies. In the interior there were two colonies under military rule, centered on Ouagadougou and Timbuktu respectively. A new military territory covering what is now Niger was established in 1900. On 11 December 1899 the Catholic deputy Jules Auguste Lemire spoke in the Chamber on the persistent slave trade in women. Decrais would ensure that slavery was suppressed. Soon after he wrote a worded letter to all governors in which he said, It is important to the progress of civilization and the honor of our country that natives are led to renounce the practice of slavery in all territories over which our control is established, it is important that the slave trade, their export from one country to another, confront a surveillance and a repression of such severity that where it still exists, it disappears as soon as possible. I do not need to add that I rely on your prudence and experience, to consider in the measures you will have to take, the temperament, the customs and the traditions of the natives placed under your administration.
Early in May 1902 the volcano Mount Pelée above the city of Saint-Pierre, Martinique began to erupt. Decrais received a cable from senator Amédée Knight on 7 May 1902 that said serious damage had been done and asked for humanitarian help. Decrais sensed that the problem was not urgent, the request might have political motives, so did not take immediate action, he explained, "With an election pending, the situation was delicate. To intervene at the behest of a party leader would have slighted the governor's authority and could have been intepreted as action for political gain." The eruptions continued, by 12 May 1902 it was known that Saint-Pierre had been destroyed and 30,000 people had died. On 26 April 1903 Decrais was elected to the Senate in a by-election, he was reelected on 7 January 1906. Again, he was entirely devoted to foreign affairs, he died on 27 February 1915 in Mérignac, Gironde aged 76
Paul Reynaud was a French politician and lawyer prominent in the interwar period, noted for his stances on economic liberalism and militant opposition to Germany. After the outbreak of World War II Reynaud became the penultimate Prime Minister of the Third Republic in March 1940, he was vice-president of the Democratic Republican Alliance center-right party. Reynaud was Prime Minister during the German defeat of France in May and June 1940. After unsuccessfully attempting to flee France, he was arrested by Philippe Petain's administration. Surrendered to German custody in 1942, he was imprisoned in Germany and Austria until liberation in 1945. Elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1946, he became a prominent figure again in French political life, serving in several cabinet positions, he favoured a United States of Europe, participated in drafting the constitution for the Fifth Republic, but resigned from government in 1962 after disagreement with President de Gaulle over changes to the electoral system.
Reynaud was born in the son of Alexandre and Amelie Reynaud. His father had made a fortune in the textile industry, enabling Reynaud to study law at the Sorbonne, he entered politics and was elected to the French Chamber of Deputies from 1919 to 1924, representing Basses-Alpes, again from 1928, representing a Paris district. Although he was first elected as part of the conservative "Blue Horizon" bloc in 1919, Reynaud shortly thereafter switched his allegiance to the centre-right Democratic Republican Alliance party becoming its vice-president. In the 1920s, Reynaud developed a reputation for laxity on German reparations, at a time when many in the French government backed harsher terms for Germany. In the 1930s during the Great Depression after 1933, Reynaud's stance hardened against the Germans at a time when all nations were struggling economically. Reynaud backed a strong alliance with the United Kingdom and, unlike many others on the French Right, better relations with the Soviet Union as a counterweight against the Germans.
Reynaud held several cabinet posts in the early 1930s, but he clashed with members of his party after 1932 over French foreign and defense policy. He was not given another cabinet position until 1938. Like Winston Churchill, Reynaud was a maverick in his party and alone in his calls for rearmament and resistance to German aggrandizement. Reynaud was a supporter of Charles de Gaulle's theories of mechanized warfare in contrast to the static defense doctrines that were in vogue among many of his countrymen, symbolized by the Maginot Line, he opposed appeasement in the run-up to the Second World War. He clashed with his party on economic policy, backing the devaluation of the franc as a solution to France's economic woes. Pierre Étienne Flandin, the leader of the Democratic Republican Alliance, agreed with several of Reynaud's key policy stances on Reynaud's defence of economic liberalism. Reynaud returned to the cabinet in 1938 as Minister of Finance under Édouard Daladier; the Sudeten Crisis, which began not long after Reynaud was named Minister of Justice, again revealed the divide between Reynaud and the rest of the Alliance Démocratique.
Reynaud publicly made his case, in response Flandin pamphleted Paris in order to pressure the government to agree to Hitler's demands. Reynaud subsequently left his party to become an independent. However, Reynaud still had the support of Daladier, whose politique de fermeté was similar to Reynaud's notion of deterrence. Reynaud, had always wanted the Finance ministry, he endorsed radically liberal economic policies in order to draw France's economy out of stagnation, centered on a massive program of deregulation, including the elimination of the forty-hour work week. The notion of deregulation was popular among France's businessmen, Reynaud believed that it was the best way for France to regain investors' confidence again and escape the stagnation its economy had fallen into; the collapse of Léon Blum's government in 1938 was a response to Blum's attempt to expand the regulatory powers of the French government. Paul Marchandeau, Daladier's first choice for finance minister, offered a limited program of economic reform, not to Daladier's satisfaction.
Reynaud's reforms were implemented, the government faced down a one-day strike in opposition. Reynaud addressed France's business community. For it to function we must obey its laws; these are the laws of profits, individual risk, free markets, growth by competition."Reynaud's reforms proved remarkably successful. More France's industrial productivity jumped from 76 to 100 from October 1938 to May 1939. At the outbreak of war, Reynaud was not bullish on France's economy; the French Right was ambivalent about the war in late 1939 and ear
Étienne Clémentel was a French politician. He served as a member of the National Assembly of France from 1900 to 1919 and as French Senator from 1920 to 1936, he served as Minister of Colonies from 24 January 1905 to 14 March 1906, Minister of Agriculture from 22 March 1913 to 9 December 1913 and Minister of Finance from 9 June 1914 to 13 June 1914. He was the first president of International Court of Arbitration He was Minister of Commerce, Industry and Telegraphs from 29 October 1915 to 27 November 1919. Étienne Clémentel was born on 11 January 1864 in Puy-de-Dôme, France. He was trained as property solicitor, he was a painter and a photographer. Some of his work can be found in the Musée d'Orsay, he died on 25 December 1936 in Puy-de-Dôme, France. His bust, sculpted by Auguste Rodin, can be found in the Musée Rodin. Newspaper clippings about Étienne Clémentel in the 20th Century Press Archives of the German National Library of Economics
Albert François Lebrun was a French politician, President of France from 1932 to 1940. He was the last president of the Third Republic, he was a member of the center-right Democratic Republican Alliance. Born to a farming family in Mercy-le-Haut, Meurthe-et-Moselle, he attended the École polytechnique and the École des mines, graduating from both at the top of his class, he became a mining engineer in Vesoul and Nancy, but left that profession at the age of 29 to enter politics. Lebrun gained a seat in the Chamber of Deputies in 1900 as a member of the Left Republican Party serving on the cabinet as Minister for the Colonies from 1912–1914, Minister of War in 1913 and Minister for Liberated Regions, 1917–1919. Joining the Democratic Alliance, he was elected to the French senate from Meurthe-et-Moselle in 1920, served as Vice President of the Senate from 1925 through 1929, he was president of that body from 1931–1932. Lebrun was elected president of France following the assassination of president Paul Doumer by Pavel Gurgulov on 6 May 1932.
Re-elected in 1939 because of his record of accommodating all political sides, he exercised little power as president. On 10 July 1940, Lebrun enacted/promulgated the Constitutional Law of 10 July 1940 allowing Prime Minister Philippe Pétain to promulgate a new constitution. On 11 July, Lebrun was replaced by Pétain as head of state, he fled to Vizille on 15 July, but was captured on 27 August 1943 when the Germans moved into the region and was sent into captivity at the Itter Castle in Tyrol. On 10 October 1943 he was allowed to return to Vizille due to poor health, but was kept under constant surveillance. On 9 August 1944, when the Allies restored the French government, Lebrun met with Charles de Gaulle and acknowledged the General's leadership, saying that he had not formally resigned as president because the dissolution of the National Assembly had left nobody to accept his resignation. Lebrun was married to Marguerite Lebrun. Together they had two children: a daughter Marie. After the war, Lebrun lived in retirement.
He died of pneumonia in Paris on 6 March 1950 after a protracted illness. Works by or about Albert Lebrun at Internet Archive Newspaper clippings about Albert Lebrun in the 20th Century Press Archives of the German National Library of Economics
Raphaël Milliès-Lacroix was a French draper and politician from Dax, Landes, in the southwest of the country. He was Minister of the Colonies in 1906–09. Raphaël Milliès-Lacroix was born in Dax, Landes, on 4 December 1850, his parents were the painter Jean-Eugène Milliès-Lacroix and Marie Joséphine Jouvenot, daughter of a wholesale fabric merchant. His father died, he hoped to go on to the Ecole polytechnique after completing his secondary education in Dax, but his grandfather insisted that he join the drapery business. During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 he was fought in the 55th infantry regiment. After returning the Dax, at the age of 21 he took charge of the wholesale fabric business, which prospered, he married Marie Betry-Golzart. Milliès-Lacroix became a member of the Republican committee in 1877 was appointed secretary-treasurer of the Republican Committee of Resistance, he was a member of the Republican Committee of his constituency from 1877 to 1885, secretary-general of the Republican Committee during the elections of 1885 and 1886.
He was elected to the Dax municipal council in 1879, became deputy mayor in 1880 and mayor in 1887. He was a strong defender of the rights of local officials, in 1891 had a duel with the sub-prefect of Dax over municipal franchises. In 1894 he was dismissed from his position as mayor by Charles Dupuy, the Minister of the Interior, for having authorized bullfights in defiance of prefectural directives. Milliès-Lacroix was reelected as mayor without difficulty. During the Dreyfus affair he supported a retrial, in opposition to the other members of the municipal council, resigned from the council, he was elected to the general council of the Landes department in 1898, became vice-president in 1908, was president of the departmental assembly from 1922 to 1924. He was one of the main editors of the local newspaper Le Dacquois, he installed thermal baths in Dax, undertook public works that drastically changed the urban landscape. Milliès-Lacroix ran for election as a senator for Landes on 3 January 1897.
He was reelected in 1906, 1920 and 1924. He sat with the Radical Democratic Radical Socialist group, he was elected to the Senate Finance Committee in 1900, was rapporteur of the budgets of the railways and of the Interior. Milliès-Lacroix was not known as a public speaker, but was an effective committee member and earned a reputation for his honesty and dedication to economy. In senate debates he was a firm defender of bullfighting. Milliès-Lacroix was Minister of the Colonies from 25 October 1906 to 24 July 1909 in the cabinet of Georges Clemenceau, he made an extensive voyage in West Africa at his own expense. Clemenceau nicknamed him "the Negro". Despite his liberal principles, Milliès-Lacroix could not accept that an Algerian indigène could become French and qualified to vote if he refused to give up the statut personnel that protected his right to observe traditional and Islamic customs. After the fall of the Clemenceau government he returned to the Senate Finance Committee in 1910, he was rapporteur for the budgets of the ministries of the Interior and of War from 1911 to 1917.
He was general rapporteur of the budget in the Senate from 1917 to 1920, chaired the Senate Budget Committee from 1920 to 1924. He was elected vice president of the Senate on 10 January 1929, holding this position for the rest of his senate career. Milliès-Lacroix did not run in the 1933 elections, when his son Eugène Milliès-Lacroix was elected in his place, he died in Candresse on 12 October 1941 at the age of 90. He had refused the Legion of Honor, which Charles Dupuy offered to him if he would withdraw his candidacy for the Senate. Milliès-Lacroix was the author of numerous reports to the Senate, he published
Pierre-Paul Guieysse, was a French Socialist politician. He was Minister of the Colonies in the French Cabinet headed by Léon Bourgeois between 1895 and 1896, he was born in Brittany, of a Protestant family. He trained as a hydrographic engineer, working for the navy, but developed scholarly and political interests, becoming a specialist in Egyptology and being active in leftist politics. In May 1900 he co-founded the newspaper La Dépêche de Lorient. Guieyesse was elected to the Chamber of Deputies as a Radical and Republican Deputy for Morbihan between 1890 and 1910, he was active in the debate over the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State, to which he proposed an amendment. He was active in the promotion of legislation to make pension contributions compulsory. Guieysse was active in the social Protestant movement, as were other Musée social members such as Charles Gide, Édouard Gruner, Henri Monod and Jules Siegfried. Guiyesse was president of the Bleus de Bretagne a society of liberal and anticlerical Bretons.
He played the dominant role in organizing the erection of the controversial statue of Ernest Renan in Tréguier. From November 1895 to April 1896 he was Minister of Colonies, in the Bourgeois government. Marcel Guieysse, one of his sons, became a militant Breton nationalist and collaborator during World War II. General Counsel of Morbihan from 1881 to 1889 Morbihan: February 9, 1890 - October 14, 1893 Morbihan: August 20, 1893 - May 31, 1898 Morbihan: May 8, 1898 - May 31, 1902 Morbihan: 11 May 1902 - May 31, 1906 Morbihan: May 20, 1906 - May 31, 1910
Henri Paul Arsène Bléhaut was French politician and counter admiral. He was Secretary of State for the Navy and the Colonies from 26 March 1943 to 10 September 1944 in Vichy France. In 1908 he entered the École navale. On the outbreak of the First World War he was attached to the torpedo-boat Commandant-Rivière on operations against the Austro-Hungarian fleet in the Adriatic during the evacuation of the Serbian Army, he was mentioned in dispatches for his bravery in battle on the night of 22 December 1916. He commanded four submarines between 1918 and 1927, he commanded the surface ships Panthère and Lamotte-Picquet in 1927. In May 1929 he was put in command of the 11th Torpedo Boat Division in the Mediterranean on board the Alcyonand reveals himself as "an exceptionally talented officer and a brilliant maneuverer". From 1932 to 1934 he was chief of staff of French naval staff in the Far East on board the Primauguet. From 1936 to 1938 he commanded a destroyer flotilla. In 1938 he became chief of staff of the maritime prefecture of Toulon.
From 1939 to 1941 he became chief of staff to the French naval forces in the Mediterranean fleet chief of staff of the French naval forces of the south. During this period he was promoted to counter admiral in 1940, his next post came in 1941, as commander of the 3rd Cruiser Division, flying his flag on La Marseillaise at Toulon. It lasted until 1942. On the Allied landings in North Africa on 13 November 1942, he tried in vain to convince Jean de Laborde, commander-in-chief of Vichy France's high seas fleet, to sail his force to Africa. At dawn on 27 November that year, when German forces arrived in the Toulon arsenal, he ordered its cruisers to scuttle themselves. In 1943, he was approached to become Vichy's Secretary of State for the Navy and the Colonies, he decided to take it up to avoid the post falling into pro-German hands. From onwards "he never stopped struggling at all times against the German and Italian armistice commissions, sabotaging any work in the arsenals that would assist the enemy and saving personnel in the naval and colonial ministry from being sent to Germany.
Thanks to him, naval security worked to inform the Allies and naval infrastructure was preserved". On 20 August 1944, he and Philippe Pétain were arrested at Vichy by the Gestapo commander in Vichy and the German Military Police, he was taken to Sigmaringen. The new French authorities dismissed him from the navy in September 1944. Bléhaut was part of Pétain's inner circle when Pétain was evacuated from Sigmaringen at the end of April 1945 ahead of the Allied advance. After crossing into Switzerland, Pétain and his circle voluntarily surrendered at the border post at Valborde a few days later. Bléhaut was thus imprisoned at Fresnes Prison in the suburbs of Paris, he was provisionally freed in March 1946, but he decided to flee to Switzerland rather than appear before the Haute Cour de Justice. He was found guilty of crimes against state security and of'indignité nationale' by that court and condemned in his absence to 10 years' imprisonment and national degradation, he voluntarily returned to France in 1955.
The decree revoking him was annulled by the Conseil d'État in May 1956. In 1946, Lieutenant-Commander André Storelli, decorated with the Resistance Medal and who would be Admiral and Chief of Staff of the French Navy, gave a testimony on the actions of Admiral Bléhaut: "Admiral, first of all, just as we have seen our efforts rewarded for having executed your orders, I affirm that you are entitled to the gratitude of the Resistance. All those who knew you and had the honor of serving you, in the difficult circumstances in which you were their leader, know that your action was only inspired by the desire to defend, within your sphere of command, what remained of our Navy capacity. None of them had to be ashamed of his actions by complying with your orders. You gave them direction and advice, either verbally or through your staff, to fight in all areas against the occupier, it was with your full consent that the Navy spontaneously and largely made available to the resistance the means at its disposal.
I can assure you. In addition, many adversaries suspicious of the sailors, surrounded us, it was obvious that a more direct action would have unmasked you resulting in the immediate control by the enemy of the means valuable and effective you still had.". Legion of Honor – Commander War Cross 1914–1918 Medal of Military Values – Silver Order of the Savior – Officer Order of the Star of Romania – Officer Order of the Rising Sun – 4th class Order of Leopold – Commander