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George Clemenceau

George Clemenceau Biography
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George Clemenceau Biography

Georges Clemenceau (September 28, 1841 – November 24, 1929) doctor, journalist, and politician. He was born in Mouilleron-en-Pareds, Loire, Paris. He was one of the most influential men in French politics at the end of the 19th century. He grew up in a humble family. The anti-clerical and progressive influence of his father, Benjamin, allowed him to know the ideals of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. At age twelve he entered the Liceu de Nantes. During his time as a student, he met notable men of radical republicanism, such as the great historian Jules Michelet.

In 1861 he studied medicine in Paris. There he joined the young republicans of the avant-garde association Agis comme tu penses. Together with some of his colleagues, he founded the newsletter Le Travail. He had several problems with the authorities after publishing a booklet commemorating the anniversary of the 1848 Revolution. Then, he founded a new newspaper, Le Matin, which was closed shortly after.

He moved to the United States, in the heat of the Civil War. During the next four years, he entered the progressive political and intellectual circles and was fascinated by the freedom of expression; American democracy flag. He worked as a war correspondent for the Paris Temps newspaper and at the end of the contest, was employed as a French and horse riding teacher at a college for young ladies in Stamford (Connecticut). One of his students became his wife: Mary Plummer, with whom he would have three children.

A few days after his wedding he moved to France and worked as a doctor in La Vendée. In July 1870 Napoleon III declared war on Prussia by Chancellor Bismarck. Clemenceau joined the demonstrations that assaulted the Palais-Bourbon and proclaimed the Third Republic. He was elected mayor of the Parisian district of Montmartre. He opposed the signing of the peace treaty imposed by Bismarck, which he considered degrading to France. His work was very important because he became the mediator between the communal rebels and the National Assembly, which had moved its headquarters to Versailles for the signing of the peace treaty. On March 27, he was frustrated and decided to give up his seat in the Assembly.

In 1876, his eloquence and political cunning made him the main spokesman for the radical faction. Soon, he led the parliamentary opposition against President Patrice MacMahon’s attempt to steal the government from his responsibility before the House of Representatives.

La Justice was the newspaper that inaugurated and became the main organ of the radicals. Clemenceau developed a relentless opposition to the management of successive governments. He based his opposition on attacks against the colonial policy in Africa and Asia, which he considered counterproductive for the country’s internal development. In 1885 he overthrew the government of Jules Ferry.

Clemenceau made General Georges Boulanger Boulangerismo the new target of his attacks. To nullify his influence, he formed the League of Human Rights to promote progressive social reforms. Subsequently, the accusations made against him damaged his prestige, and in the elections of 1893, despite conducting a brilliant campaign, he was defeated.

Clemenceau started a new direction in journalism. This activity allowed him to display his excellent skills for political analysis, his vast culture and his closeness with intellectuals of the time such as, Jean-François Rafaëlli, Auguste Rodin and Claude Monet, for whom he organized a large exhibition in the Tuileries after the First World War. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec contributed the illustrations of his book on the history of the Hebrew people, At the foot of the Sinai. In 1902, he gave the first speech before the Upper House vigorously defending freedom of expression and conscience, as well as the complete separation between the Church and the State, opposing the interference of the Vatican in French affairs and the state monopoly of education.

After the dispute between France and Germany, caused by the French government trying to consolidate its supremacy over Morocco, he dedicated himself to travel in South America, where he gave lectures on democracy. He returned to the Senate and during World War I focused on winning the war. Despite his efforts to inflate a spirit of victory in French, the prolongation of the war left the country dejected and in crisis. The pacifism that the radical left adopted became the new target of Clemenceau’s attacks.

Clemenceau was then 76 years old when he managed to convince Britain and the United States to establish a unified command. Together with British Prime Minister David Lloyd George and President Wilson, he was one of the protagonists of the Paris Peace Conference (1919). In this way, he got the return of Alsace and Lorena, and the payment of exorbitant war reparations.

He left the headquarters of the Council of Ministers after losing the elections to the presidency of the Republic. This meant his retirement from political life. He left Paris and moved to live in Bel-Ebat, devoted himself to reading and writing his latest works: Demóstenes and Au Soir de la pensée. His Memories: Greatness and misery of a victory.

Georges Clemenceau died in his Parisian apartment on November 24, 1929, at the age of 88. He was honored for his effort that led France to triumph over the Axis powers and played an essential role in the peace talks that concluded in the Treaty of Versailles, is one of the most relevant figures in French politics.

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