Alexandre Ribot

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Alexandre Ribot
Ribot.jpg
46th Prime Minister of France
In office
20 March 1917 – 12 September 1917
Preceded by Aristide Briand
Succeeded by Paul Painlevé
In office
9 June 1914 – 13 June 1914
Preceded by Gaston Doumergue
Succeeded by René Viviani
In office
26 January 1895 – 1 November 1895
Preceded by Charles Dupuy
Succeeded by Léon Bourgeois
In office
6 December 1892 – 4 April 1893
Preceded by Émile Loubet
Succeeded by Charles Dupuy
Personal details
Born 7 February 1842
Saint-Omer
Died 13 January 1923(1923-01-13) (aged 80)
Paris
Political party None

Alexandre-Félix-Joseph Ribot (French pronunciation: ​[alɛksɑ̃dʁ ʁibo]; 7 February 1842 – 13 January 1923) was a French politician, four times Prime Minister.

Early career

Ribot was born in Saint-Omer, Pas-de-Calais. After a brilliant academic career at the University of Paris, where he was lauréat of the faculty of law, he rapidly made his mark at the bar. He was secretary of the conference of advocates and one of the founders of the Sociéte de legislation comparée. During 1875 and 1876 he was successively director of criminal affairs and secretary-general at the ministry of justice.

Representative

In 1877 he entered politics, playing a conspicuous part on the committee of legal resistance during the Brogue ministry; in the following year he was returned to the chamber as a moderate republican member for Boulogne, in his native département of Pas-de-Calais.[1]

His impassioned yet reasoned eloquence gave him an influence which was increased by his articles in the Parlement in which he opposed violent measures against the unauthorized congregations. He devoted himself especially to financial questions, and in 1882 was reporter of the budget. He became one of the most prominent republican opponents of the Radical party, distinguishing himself by his attacks on the short-lived Gambetta ministry. He refused to vote the credits demanded by the Ferry cabinet for the Tongking expedition, and helped Georges Clemenceau overthrow the ministry in 1885. At the general election of that year he was a victim of the Republican rout in the Pas-de-Calais, and did not re-enter the chamber till 1887.[1]

Cabinet member

After 1889 he sat for Saint-Omer. His fear of the Boulangist movement converted him to the policy of "Republican Concentration," and he entered office in 1890 as foreign minister in the Freycinet cabinet. He had an intimate acquaintance and sympathy with English' institutions,' and two of his published works – an address, Biographie de Lord Erskine (1866), and Etude sur l'acte du 5 avril 1873 pour l'etablissement d'une cour supreme de justice en Angleterre (1874) – deal with English law; he also gave a fresh and highly important direction to French policy by the understanding with Russia, which was declared to the world by the visit of the French fleet to Kronstadt in 1891, and which subsequently ripened into a formal treaty of alliance. He retained his post in Émile Loubet's ministry (February–November 1892), and on its defeat he became president of the council, retaining the direction of foreign affairs. The government resigned in March 1893 over the refusal of the chamber to accept the Senate's amendments to the budget. On the election of Félix Faure as president of the Republic in January 1895, Ribot again became premier and minister of finance. On 10 June he was able to make the first official announcement of a definite alliance with Russia. On 30 October the government was defeated on the question of the Chemin de fer du Sud, and resigned office.[1]

The real reason of its fall was the mismanagement of the Madagascar expedition, the cost of which in men and money exceeded all expectations, and the alarming social conditions at home, as indicated by the strike at Carmaux. After the fall of Jules Méline's ministry in 1898 M. Ribot tried in vain to form a cabinet of "conciliation." He was elected, at the end of 1898, president of the important commission on education, in which he advocated the adoption of a modern system of education. The policy of the Waldeck-Rousseau ministry on the religious teaching congregations broke up the Republican party, and Ribot was among the seceders; but at the general election of 1902, though he himself secured re-election, his policy suffered a severe check.[1]

He actively opposed the policy of the Combes ministry and denounced the alliance with Jean Léon Jaurès, and on 13 January 1905 he was one of the leaders of the opposition which brought about the fall of the cabinet. Although he had been most violent in denouncing the anti-clerical policy of the Combes cabinet, he now announced his willingness to recognize a new régime to replace the Concordat of 1801, and gave the government his support in the establishment of the Associations culturelles, while he secured some mitigation of the seventies attending the separation.[1]

He was re-elected deputy for Saint-Omer in 1906. In the same year he became a member of the Académie française in succession to the duc d'Audiffret-Pasquier; he was already a member of the Academy of Moral and Political Science. In justification of his policy in opposition he published in 1905 two volumes of his Discours politiques.[1]

On 3 January 1909, Ribot was elected a member of the French Senate, and in February of the following year was offered, but refused, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in the Monis cabinet. After the formation of the Poincaré Government on 14 January 1912, Ribot took the place of Léon Bourgeois as president of the committee appointed to deal with the Franco-German treaty, the necessity for the ratification of which he demonstrated. In 1913 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the presidency of the Republic, and on the fall of Barthou's Government was invited by Poincaré, who was now President, to form a Cabinet, but refused. In 1914 he became, with Jean Dupuy, leader of the Left Republican group which refused to accept the decisions of the Radical Socialist congress at Pau in October 1913.[2]

First Premiership

On 9 June 1914, Ribot became Prime Minister and Minister of Justice, but his Government was bitterly assailed by the Radical Socialists as well as other groups, and only lasted one day.[2]

World War I

With the outbreak of World War I Ribot's great reputation as an expert in finance and foreign affairs brought him effectively into office. On 27 August 1914 he became Minister of Finance in Viviani's Ministry of National Defence, an office which he retained when, on 28 October 1915, Aristide Briand succeeded Viviani as Prime Minister.[2]

On February 7, 1916 he visited London and held a conference with the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the Treasury. When Briand reconstituted his Cabinet, in December 1916, Ribot retained the portfolio of Finance. On the fall of the Briand Ministry, President Poincaré again called upon Ribot to form a government, and this time he consented, himself taking the portfolio of Foreign Affairs in addition to the premiership (19 March). In the statement of his policy made to the Chamber on 21 March he declared this to be "to recover the provinces torn from us in the past, to obtain the reparations and guarantees due to France, and to prepare a durable peace based on respect for the rights and liberty of peoples." On 31 July, in a reply to the German Chancellor Georg Michaelis, he admitted that in 1917 an agreement had been made with Tsar Nicholas to erect the German territories on the left bank of the Rhine into an autonomous state, but denied that there had been any question of their annexation to France.[2]

End of political career

Ribot's final ministry was during the most dismal part of the First World War, seeing the failure of the Nivelle Offensive and the famous mutiny of the French soldiers which followed. Following the decision to dismiss Interior Minister Louis Malvy, his government resigned office on 2 September, but he accepted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Painlevé cabinet constituted six days later. He resigned office finally on 16 October, owing to the violent criticism of his refusal to fall into the "trap" of the German peace offers.[2]

Ribot left politics, and died in Paris on 13 January 1923 at the age of 80.[3]

The main grammar school (lycée) in Saint-Omer, the Lycée Alexandre Ribot, bears his name today.

Ribot's 1st Ministry, 6 December 1892 – 11 January 1893

Changes

  • 13 December 1892 – Pierre Tirard succeeds Rouvier as Minister of Finance.

Ribot's 2nd Ministry, 11 January 1893 – 4 April 1893

Ribot's 3rd Ministry, 26 January 1895 – 1 November 1895

Ribot's 4th Ministry, 9 June 1914 – 13 June 1914

Ribot's 5th Ministry, 20 March 1917 – 12 September 1917

Changes

  • 4 July 1917 – The office of Minister of Maritime Transports is abolished. Maurice Viollette remains Minister of General Supply.
  • 10 August 1917 – Charles Chaumet succeeds Lacaze as Minister of Marine.
  • 1 September 1917 – Théodore Steeg succeeds Malvy as Minister of the Interior

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ribot, Alexandre Félix Joseph". Encyclopædia Britannica. 23 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 285. 
  2. ^ a b c d e  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1922). "Ribot, Alexandre Félix Joseph". Encyclopædia Britannica. 32 (12th ed.). London & New York. p. 274. 
  3. ^ Duffy 2009.
  • Duffy, Michael (2009). "Who's Who - Alexandre Ribot". firstworldwar.com. Michael Duffy. Retrieved 21 February 2017. 

Further reading

  • Schmidt, Martin (1974). Alexandre Ribot : odyssey of a liberal in the Third Republic. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. ISBN 978-90-247-1639-5. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Eugène Spuller
Minister of Foreign Affairs
1890–1893
Succeeded by
Jules Develle
Preceded by
Émile Loubet
Prime Minister of France
1892–1893
Succeeded by
Charles Dupuy
Minister of the Interior
1893
Preceded by
Charles Dupuy
Prime Minister of France
1895
Succeeded by
Léon Bourgeois
Preceded by
Raymond Poincaré
Minister of Finance
1895
Succeeded by
Paul Doumer
Preceded by
Gaston Doumergue
Prime Minister of France
1914
Succeeded by
René Viviani
Preceded by
Jean Bienvenu-Martin
Minister of Justice
1914
Succeeded by
Jean Bienvenu-Martin
Preceded by
Joseph Noulens
Minister of Finance
1914–1917
Succeeded by
Joseph Thierry
Preceded by
Aristide Briand
Prime Minister of France
1917
Succeeded by
Paul Painlevé
Minister of Foreign Affairs
1917
Succeeded by
Louis Barthou
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