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Biography of Georges Clemenceau

Clemenceau, Georges. Eminent French statesman and journalist. Was born in 1841. Clemenceau migrated to the United States in 1865 and, as a war correspondent, entered Richmond with Grant's army. In 1869 he returned to France and practiced as a physician in Montmartre. Entering politics, he became an ardent supporter of Gambetta, whom he succeeded as leader of the extreme left. He was a member of the Chamber of Deputies, 1876-1893. In 1902 Clemenceau was elected senator, retaining his seat until after the end of the First World War. In 1880 he established a daily newspaper, "La Justice," and thereafter displayed great ability and influence as a journalist. Espousing the cause of Dreyfus, he founded, in 1903, a daily to defend him called "L'Aurore," in which Zola wrote his famous letter "I Accuse." After 1890, Clemenceau came to be regarded as a destroyer of ministries; his effective oratory, brilliant editorials, and biting epigrams causing even the most powerful political leaders to fear him. In 1906 Clemenceau was chosen premier, resigning in 1909. During his ministry, he carried out with great firmness the law separating the church and the state and, although a radical, put down a great miners' strike by prompt use of the military. Pledged from the days of the French defeat in 1870 to the ultimate restoration of Alsace-Lorraine, Clemenceau, during the First World War, became one of the most inspiring patriotic leaders of France. At the critical period following the downfall of the Painleve ministry, Clemenceau was again chosen premier (November 16, 1917) and, by unflagging energy, united the French nation for the supreme effort which, within a year, led to complete victory for the Allies. In 1919, Clemenceau was made leader of the French delegation to the peace conference at Versailles and, upon motion of President Wilson, seconded by Premier Lloyd George, was chosen to preside over its sessions.

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