Alexandre Millerand

The Honourable Excellency
Alexandre Millerand

Portrait of Alexandre Millerand, 1920s.
Member of the French Senate
In office
5 April 1925  10 July 1940
Constituency Seine (1925–1927)
Orne (1927–1940)
12th President of France
Co-Prince of Andorra
In office
23 September 1920  11 June 1924
Acting: 21 September 1920 - 23 September 1920
Prime Minister Georges Leygues,
Aristide Briand,
Raymond Poincaré,
Frédéric François-Marsal
Preceded by Paul Deschanel
Succeeded by Gaston Doumergue
86th Prime Minister of France
In office
20 January 1920  24 September 1920
President Raymond Poincaré,
Paul Deschanel
Preceded by Georges Clemenceau
Succeeded by Georges Leygues
Minister of War
In office
26 August 1914  29 October 1915
Prime Minister René Viviani
Preceded by Adolphe Messimy
Succeeded by Joseph Gallieni
In office
14 January 1912  12 January 1913
Prime Minister Raymond Poincaré
Preceded by Adolphe Messimy
Succeeded by Albert Lebrun
Minister of Commerce, Industry, Posts and Telegraphs
In office
Paul Delombre  Georges Trouillot
Prime Minister Pierre Waldeck-Rousseau
Member of the French Chamber
In office
4 October 1885  23 September 1920
Constituency Seine
Personal details
Born (1859-02-10)February 10, 1859
Paris, France
Died April 7, 1943(1943-04-07) (aged 84)
Versailles, Occupied France
Political party Independent Socialists
Republican-Socialist Party
Republican Independents
Spouse(s) Jeanne Millerand (m. 1898–1943); his death
Children Jean (1899–1972)
Alice (1902–80)
Jacques (1904–79)
Marthe (1909–75)
Alma mater University of Paris
Profession Lawyer, journalist

Alexandre Millerand (French: [alɛksɑ̃dʁ milʁɑ̃]; 10 February 1859 – 7 April 1943) was a French politician. He was Prime Minister of France 20 January to 23 September 1920 and President of France from 23 September 1920 to 11 June 1924. His participation in Waldeck-Rousseau's cabinet at the start of the 20th century, alongside the Marquis de Galliffet who had directed the repression of the 1871 Paris Commune, sparked a debate in the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO) and in the Second International about the participation of socialists in "bourgeois governments".


Early activism

Born in Paris, he was educated for the bar, and made his reputation by his defence, in company with Georges Laguerre, of Ernest Roche and Duc-Quercy, the instigators of the strike at Decazeville in 1883; he then took Laguerre's place on Georges Clemenceau's paper, La Justice. He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies for the Seine département in 1885 as a Radical Socialist. He was associated with Clemenceau and Camille Pelletan as an arbitrator in the Carmaux strike (1892). He had long had the ear of the Chamber in matters of social legislation, and after the Panama scandals had discredited so many politicians his influence grew.

As member of the executive

He was chief of the Independent Socialist faction, a group which then mustered sixty members, and edited until 1896 their organ in the press, La Petite République. His programme included the collective ownership of the means of production and the international association of labour, but, when in June 1899 he entered Pierre Waldeck-Rousseau's cabinet of "republican defence" as Minister of Commerce, he limited himself to practical reforms, devoting his attention to the improvement of the mercantile marine, to the development of trade, of technical education, of the postal system, and to the amelioration of the conditions of labour. Labour questions were entrusted to a separate department, the Direction du Travail, and the pension and insurance office was also raised to the status of a "direction".

As labour minister, Millerand was responsible for the introduction of a wide range of reforms, including the reduction in the maximum workday from 11 to 10 hours in 1904, the introduction of an 8-hour workday for postal employees, the prescribing of maximum hours and minimum wages for all work undertaken by public authorities, the bringing of worker’s representatives into the Conseil supérieur de travail, the establishment of arbitration tribunals and inspectors of labour, and the creation of a labour section inside his Ministry of commerce to tackle the problem of social insurance.

The introduction of trade union representatives on the Supreme Labour Council, the organization of local labour councils, and the instructions to factory inspectors to put themselves in communication with the councils of the trade unions, were valuable concessions to labour, and he further secured the rigorous application of earlier laws devised for the protection of the working class. His name was especially associated with a project for the establishment of old age pensions, which became law in 1905. In 1898, he became editor of La Lanterne.

He had not joined his independent socialist colleague Jean Jaurès in forming the Parti Socialiste Français in 1902, instead forming the small Independent Socialist Party in 1907 which became Republican-Socialist Party (PRS) in 1911. His influence with the far left had already declined, for it was said that his departure from the true Marxist tradition had disintegrated the movement. He continued to move to the right, being appointed Prime Minister by the conservative President Paul Deschanel.

During his time as Prime Minister, a decree of February 1920 introduced the eight-hour day for seamen.

Presidency and later years

When Deschanel had to resign later that year due to his mental disorder, Millerand emerged as a compromise candidate for President between the Bloc National and the remnants of the Bloc des gauches. Millerand appointed Georges Leygues, a politician with a long career of ministerial office, as Prime Minister and attempted to strengthen the executive powers of the Presidency. This move was resisted in the Chamber of Deputies and the French Senate, and Millerand was forced to appoint a stronger figure, Aristide Briand. Briand's appointment was welcomed by both left and right, although the Socialists and the left wing of the Radical Party did not join his government. However, Millerand dismissed Briand after just a year, and appointed the conservative republican Raymond Poincaré.

Millerand was accused of favouring conservatives in spite of the traditional neutrality of French Presidents and the composition of the legislature. On 14 July 1922, Millerand escaped an assassination attempt by Gustave Bouvet, a young French anarchist. Two years later, Millerand resigned in the face of growing conflict between the elected legislature and the office of the President, following the victory of the Cartel des Gauches. Gaston Doumergue, who was the president of the Senate at the time, was chosen to replace Millerand.

Alexandre Millerand died in 1943 at Versailles, and was interred in the Passy Cemetery.

Millerand's Ministry, 20 January 1920 – 24 September 1920


See also



    Further reading

    External links

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    Political offices
    Preceded by
    Paul Delombre
    Minister of Commerce, Industry, Posts, and Telegraphs
    Succeeded by
    Georges Trouillot
    Preceded by
    Louis Barthou
    Minister of Public Works, Posts, and Telegraphs
    Succeeded by
    Louis Puech
    Preceded by
    Adolphe Messimy
    Minister of War
    Succeeded by
    Albert Lebrun
    Preceded by
    Adolphe Messimy
    Minister of War
    Succeeded by
    Joseph Galliéni
    Preceded by
    Georges Clemenceau
    Prime Minister of France
    Succeeded by
    Georges Leygues
    Preceded by
    Stéphen Pichon
    Minister of Foreign Affairs
    Preceded by
    Paul Deschanel
    President of France
    Succeeded by
    Gaston Doumergue
    Regnal titles
    Preceded by
    Paul Deschanel and Justí Guitart i Vilardebó
    Co-Prince of Andorra
    with Justí Guitart i Vilardebó
    Succeeded by
    Gaston Doumergue and Justí Guitart i Vilardebó
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