Émile Loubet

18/02/189918/02/1906View on timeline

Émile Loubet

Émile François Loubet (30 December 1838 – 20 December 1929) was the 45th Prime Minister of France and later President of France.

Trained in law, he became mayor of Montélimar, where he was noted as a forceful orator. He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1876 and the Senate in 1885. He was appointed as a Republican minister under Carnot and Ribot. He was briefly Prime Minister of France in 1892. As President (1899–1906), he saw the successful Paris Exhibition of 1900, and the forging of the Entente Cordiale with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, resolving their sharp differences over the Boer War and the Dreyfus Affair.

President of the French Republic (1899–1906)

His reputation as an orator of great force and lucidity of exposition and as a safe and honest statesman procured for him in 1896 the presidency of the Senate, and in February 1899 he was chosen president of the republic in succession to Félix Faure by 483 votes as against 279 recorded by Jules Méline, his only serious competitor.

He was marked out for fierce opposition and bitter insult, as the representative of that section of the Republican party which sought the revision of the Dreyfus affair. On the day of President Faure's funeral Paul Déroulède met the troops under General Roget on their return to barracks, and demanded that the general should march on the Elysée. Roget sensibly took his troops back to barracks. At the Auteuil steeplechase in June, the president was struck on the head with a cane by an anti-Dreyfusard. In that month President Loubet summoned Waldeck-Rousseau to form a cabinet, and at the same time entreated Republicans of all shades of opinion to rally to the defence of the state. By the efforts of Loubet and Waldeck-Rousseau the Dreyfus affair was settled, when Loubet, acting on the advice of General Galliffet, minister of war, remitted the ten years' imprisonment to which Dreyfus was condemned at Rennes.

Loubet's presidency saw an acute stage of the clerical question, which was attacked by Waldeck-Rousseau and in still more drastic fashion by the Combes ministry. The French ambassador was recalled from the Vatican in April 1905, and in July the separation of church and state was voted in the Chamber of Deputies. Feeling had run high between France and Britain over the mutual criticisms passed on the conduct of the South African War and the Dreyfus affair respectively. These differences were composed, by the Anglo-French entente, and in 1904 a convention between the two countries secured the recognition of French claims in Morocco in exchange for non-interference with the British occupation of Egypt. President Loubet belonged to the peasant-proprietor class, and had none of the aristocratic proclivities of President Faure. He inaugurated the Paris Exhibition of 1900, received the emperor Nicholas II of Russia at the French maneuvers of 1901 and paid a visit to Russia in 1902.

On 4 July 1902 President Loubet was elected an honorary member of the Rhode Island Society of the Cincinnati.

Loubet also exchanged visits with King Edward VII, with the king of Portugal, the king of Italy and the king of Spain. During the king of Spain's visit in 1905, an attempt was made on his life, a bomb being thrown under his carriage as he and with his guest left the Opéra Garnier. When his presidency came to an end in January 1906, he became the first President of the Third Republic to have served a full term and without resigning a second one. He retired into private life and died on 20 December 1929 at the age of 90.

Painting of Loubet
Loubet caricatured by Guth for Vanity Fair, 1899

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Published in 9/09/2020

Updated in 19/02/2021

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