Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Lesseps, Ferdinand, Vicomte de, was born in 1805. He entered the diplomatic service in 1825, became consul at Cairo in 1833, and at Barcelona in 1842, and in 1848 as French ambassador at Madrid negotiated a postal treaty with Spain. In 1854, after a visit to Said Pasha, the then ruler of Egypt, he was invited to explain his scheme for a canal between the Mediterranean and Bed Seas, which he did in his Percement de ITsthme de Suez Expose. The project having been sanctioned m 1856, a company was formed, and the work was begun in 1859, and on November 17, 1869, the Suez Canal was formally opened, representatives of most of the Powers being present. M. Lesseps was rewarded with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour and with several foreign decorations. In 1873 he was made a member of the Academie des Sciences, and three years later was awarded a prize of 5,000 francs for his Lettres, Journal, et Bocuments pour Servir a VHistoire du Suez Canal, published in 1875. The second great engineering scheme of Lesseps, the attempt to cut through the peninsula of Panama, involved great expense, and ended in ignominious failure. In 1889 the Panama Company went into liquidation, and in 1893 Lesseps, his son, and some others were convicted of corrupting Government officials and sentenced to terms of imprisonment, not carried out in the case of the first.