Clemençeau, Georges

Clemençeau, Georges
   Twice French premier (1906–1909 and 1917–1920), Georges Clemençeau was a major radical figure of the Third Republic whose combative nature earned him the nickname “The Tiger.” He was born in Mouilleron-en-Pared on September 28, 1841. His political career began after becoming mayor of Montmartre in Paris in 1870. Even before the German unification was completed, as a deputy for Paris at the National Assembly at Bordeaux, he had voted against making peace with Prussia. He opposed colonialism on the grounds that it would divert national energies from the imperative of recovering Alsace-Lorraine, and he was a relentless opponent of Jules Ferry ’s colonial policy.
   Clemençeau’s career was damaged by the Panama Scandal but recovered when he championed the republican cause during the Dreyfus Affair. In his first premiership, his policies led to cementing friendship with Britain. The Entente Cordiale of April 1904 between France and Britain had led to formal recognition of the French influence in Morocco, and the First Morocco Crisis demonstrated the solidarity of the Entente. There was revival of nationalist feeling in France during his premiership nurtured in part by the revanchist spirit of Clemençeau’s policy. His government fell in 1909, but he continued to advocate greater readiness in case of a war and returned as a particularly energetic and effective wartime premier from 1917 to 1920. World War I made Clemençeau a legendary figure; indeed, his tough leadership in a struggle that nearly bled France white brought him the new title of “Father Victory.” At the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, Clemençeau was the most forceful advocate of punitive peace terms for Germany.
    Dallas, Gregor. At the Heart of a Tiger. Clemenceau and His World 1841-1929. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1993;
    Jackson, J. Hampden. Clemenceau and the Third Republic. New York: Collier Books, 1962;
    Lecomte, Georges. Georges Clemenceau: The Tiger of France. Translated by Donald Clive Stuart. New York: Appleton & Company, 1919;
    Martet, Jean . Georges Clemenceau. London: Longmans, Green & Company, 1930;
    Watson, David Robin. Georges Clemenceau; A Political Biography. London: Eyre Methuen, 1974.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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