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Adolphe Thiers

17/02/187130/08/1871

Thiers, by Nadar

Marie Joseph Louis Adolphe Thiers (15 April 1797 – 3 September 1877) was a French statesman and historian. He was the second elected President of France, and the first President of the French Third Republic.

Thiers was a key figure in the July Revolution of 1830, which overthrew the Bourbon monarchy, and the French Revolution of 1848, which established the Second French Republic. He served as a prime minister in 1836, 1840 and 1848, dedicated the Arc de Triomphe, and arranged the return to France of the ashes of Napoleon from Saint-Helena. He was first a supporter, then a vocal opponent of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (who served from 1848 to 1852 as President of the Second Republic and then reigned as Emperor Napoleon III from 1852 to 1871). When Napoleon III seized power, Thiers was arrested and briefly expelled from France. He then returned and became an opponent of the government.

Following the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War, which Thiers opposed, he was elected chief executive of the new French government and negotiated the end of the war. When the Paris Commune seized power in March 1871, Thiers gave the orders to the army for its suppression. At the age of seventy-four, he was named President of the Republic by the French National Assembly in August 1871. His chief accomplishment as president was to achieve the departure of German soldiers from most of French territory two years ahead of schedule. Opposed by the monarchists in the French assembly and the left wing of the Republicans, he resigned on 24 May 1873, and was replaced as President by Patrice de Mac-Mahon, Duke of Magenta. When he died in 1877, his funeral became a major political event; the procession was led by two of the leaders of the republican movement, Victor Hugo and Leon Gambetta, who, at the time of his death, were his allies against the conservative monarchists.

He was also a notable literary figure, the author of a very successful ten-volume history of the French Revolution (Histoire de la Révolution française) and a twenty-volume history of the Consulate and Empire of Napoleon Bonaparte (Histoire du Consulat et de l'Empire). In 1834 he was elected to the Académie Française.

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Published in 21/09/2020

Updated in 19/02/2021

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