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France: Third Republic (1870-1940) - Presidential standards

Last modified: 2008-04-26 by ivan sache
Keywords: president | casimir-perier (jean) | faure (felix) | poincare (raymond) | deschanel (paul) | lebrun (albert) |
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Jean Casimir-Périer (1894-1895)

[Casimir-Périer's standard]

Casimir-Périer's standard - Image by Željko Heimer, 27 September 2004

Jean Casimir-Périer (1847-1907) was Casimir Périer's grandson and Auguste Casimir-Périer's son.
The banker Jean Casimir-Périer (1777-1832) was an opponent to the Bourbons during the Restauration and rallied king Louis-Philippe during the Monarchy of July. He was appointed President of the Council [of Ministers] in 1832. Casimir-Périer severely repressed popular insurrections in Paris and Lyon, and supported Belgium in its fight for independence from the Netherlands. He died during the big epidemic of cholera that hit Paris in 1832.
His son Auguste (1811-1876) changed his family name from Périer to Casimir-Périer in 1874. He supported the first president of the Third Republic Adolphe Thiers and was Minister of the Interior in 1871-1872.
Jean Casimir-Périer bravely fought during the 1870 Franco-Prussian war. He was elected Deputy for the department of Aube in 1876, was appointed Vice State Secretary of War in Jules Ferry's second government, and was eventually elected President of the Chamber [of Deputies] from January to December 1893.
On 3 December 1893, Casimir-Périer was appointed President of the Council. The Republic was then threatened by anarchists, who committed attempts and murders. Casimir-Périer promoted very severe anti-anarchist laws, later nicknamed lois scélérates (villainous laws). The phrasing of the laws was indeed vague and they could easily be applied to journalists, trade unionists and political opponents. Casimir-Périer resigned in May 1894.

On 24 June 1894, President of the Republic Sadi-Carnot was murdered in Lyon by the Italian anarchist Caserio. The Chamber and the Senate gathered in Versailles and elected Casimir-Périer on 27 June (451 votes out of the 851 voters). The new President was very conservative and his authoritarian attitude was expected to calm down the situation. However, Casimir-Périer was Orleanist via his grand-father and extremely wealthy, being the main shareholder of the coal mines of Anzin, in the north of France. The anarchists and the socialists immediatly rejected him and started a campaign of personal defamation against him. Casimir-Périer overreacted and gave on 3 July a very aggressive speech in the Chamber, saying he would use all the powers granted to him by the Constitution.
In the beginning of July, a new law proposal attempted to strengthen the anti-anarchist laws. The opposition and the unions were probably the main targets of this law, since the anarchists had lost any popular support after the assassination of the very popular and honest Sadi-Carnot. During the summer 1894, the socialists had their congress in Nantes, where they adopted the principle of the revolutionary general strike, coined by the young lawyer Aristide Briand (1862-1932), later one of the warmer defenders of reconciliation with Germany and the League of Nations and awarded the Nobel Prize of Peace in 1926. The Conseil Général des Fédérations Ouvri&elarge;res was founded during the congress, and became next year in Limoges the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT).
In September 1894, the journalist Gérault-Richard published in the Chambard a very violent pamphlet against the President, entitled A bas Casimir (Down with Casimir). The journalist was sued and defended by Jean Jaurès (1859-1914), who attacked once again the President and his family. Gérault-Richard was sentenced to one year's imprisonment. However, he was elected Deputy in January 1895 for the XIIIth district of Paris. Casimir-Périer perceived this election as another personal insult and felt abandoned by his own political majority.
On 15 January, the government led by Dupuy was defeated because of a dirty affair of contracts with the railway companies. The next day, the President said he could no longer afford the personal campaigns against him and his lack of political power and resigned. He withdrew from public life until his death.

The flag used by Président Jean Casimir-Périer is kept in the private archive HCC (Habillement, Couchage, Casernement - Outfit, Bedding, Barracks) of the Direction du Commissariat de la Marine (Direction of the Admiralty Board) in Toulon.
The golden cypher in the middle of the white stripe is made of the interlaced letters C and P.

Ivan Sache, 30 September 2004

Félix Faure (1895-1899)

[Faure's standard]

Félix Faure's standard - Image by Željko Heimer, 27 September 2004

On 17 January 1895, the Congress (Deputees and Senators) gathered in Versailles to elect the new President. Félix Faure was elected in the second round among several candidates, including Brisson, Dupuy and Waldeck-Rousseau, and was rapidly nicknamed Président-soleil ("President-sun") or Félix le Bel ("Felix the Handsome") because he enjoyed splendor and garish festivities.
Faure warmly encouraged colonialism. On 30 September 1895, Antananarivo was seized by the French troops and Madagascar was annexed on 6 August 1896. In September 1898, almamy Samory, who had constituted a powerful empire in upper Côte-d'Ivoire, was captured and France annexed all the lands bordering the Niger river. In order to fight against British expansion in Africa, the French government approved the proposal of Commandant Marchand to link Dakar (Senegal) to Djibouti. The Marchand mission reached Fachoda, in the upper valley of Nile, on 10 July 1898 and hoisted the French Tricolore on the ruined fort of the village. In early September sirdar Kitchener reached Fachoda with 20,000 men and hoisted the Egyptian flag on the fort. On 3 November, Marchand was ordered to evacuate Fachoda. In March 1899, France signed a convention by which all its claims on Sudan were withdrawn.
Faure established strong links with Russia. Tsar Nicolas II officially visited Paris in October 1896, being the first important foreign sovereign to visit France since the 1870 disaster. In August 1897, Faure officially visited St. Petersburg and called Russia and France deux nations amies et alliées ("two friend and allied nations").
The infamous Dreyfus case tainted Faure's presidency. Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer, was allegedly accusated of spying for Germany. After a forged trial, he was sentenced to demotion and deportation to Devil's Island, off the coast of French Guyana. The Dreyfus case motivated a major clash in France between the Dreyfusards and the Anti-Dreyfusards. Evidence of the forgery accumulated and more and more people asked for the revision of the trial and the rehabilitation of Dreyfus. Félix Faure, who was opposed to the trial revision, died on 16 February 1899.

Faure is today more famous for his death than for his political career. He died in the palace of Elysée during a tryst with his friend Madame Steinheil. A famous story tells that a chambermaid screamed: Le Président n'a plus sa connaissance and was answered by another one Elle est partie par l'escalier de service. The pun is based on the double sense of connaissance, meaning both "acquaintance" and "consciousness". Therefore, the first maid meant to say "The President has no longer his consciousness". The second maid understood "The President's acquaintance is no longer here", and answered "She left by the backstairs".
Faure's funerals were also tragi-comic. During the ceremony, the ultra-nationalist Déroulède attempted a coup and tried to march on the Palace of Elysée with his fellows of the Patriotic League. The coup aborted and Déroulède was arrested.

The flag used by Président Félix Faure is kept in the private archive HCC (Habillement, Couchage, Casernement - Outfit, Bedding, Barracks) of the Direction du Commissariat de la Marine (Direction of the Admiralty Board) in Toulon.
The golden cypher in the middle of the white stripe is a nice combination of two mirrorred F letters placed in saltire. The resulting X pattern is not coincidental and probably refers to the X of Félix.
Félix Faure had more than one monogram. On 6 October 1896, he offered a dinner to the Emperor and the Empress of Russia during their official visit to France. On the cover of the menu of the dinner, Faure's monogram is much more complicated in its ornementations than the very geometrical, rectilinear monogram applied in the middle of the President's flag.

Ivan Sache & Armand du Payrat, 9 July 2001

Raymond Poincaré (1913-1920)

[Flag of Poincaré]

Raymond Poincaré's standard - Image by Željko Heimer, 30 September 2001

Raymond Poincaré (1860-1934) was the cousin of the great mathematician Henri Poincaré (1854-1912). He was elected General Councillor and then Deputy for the department of Meuse (Lorraine) in 1887. Due to his authority and his competence, he was appointed three times Minister (Finance Minister, 1893 and 1894; Minister of State Education, 1895) before reaching the age of 40, which was fairly unusual at his time.
Poincaré was very ambitious but also very careful, and refused to take party on questions that violently divided France, such as the Dreyfus affair and the anticlerical fight. Accordingly, he was estimated by all parties. He became a famous lawyer in Paris and the model of the patriot from Lorraine, which was then partially (Moselle) incorporated to Germany with Alsace.
Poincaré refused the Presidency of the Council in 1899 and was elected in the Senate in 1903, where he stayed until 1913. He was elected at the Académie Française in 1906.
In January 1912, Poincaré was appointed President of the Council by President Fallières. He succeded Caillaux, who acknowledged his admiration for Poincaré's culture, knowledge and work skills. Caillaux was a pacifist, whereas Poincaré promoted firmness against Germany, keeping for himself the Ministery of Foreign Affairs. Poincaré strengthened the Entente Cordiale with Britain and the Franco-Russian alliance.

On 17 January 1913, Poincaré was elected President of the Republic by the Congress, and immediatly attempted to increase the power of the President. Poincaré was one of the partisans of the extension of the duration of the conscription from two to three years.
In 1914, the left parties won the general election and Poincaré appointed the socialist Viviani as the President of the Council. In July, during an official visit in Russia, Poincaré was informed of the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia. He came back to France where he promoted the Union Sacrée (Holy Union) of all parties to support the war against Germany, and was nicknamed Poincaré la Guerre. However, all the benefit of the 1918 victory was received by Poincaré's old enemy, Georges Clémenceau (1841-1929), nicknamed Père la Victoire.
In 1920, Poincaré refused to apply for a second President' mandate in order to come back to the active political life. He was elected Senator for the department of Meuse and was appointed President of the Commission for War Reparations, from which he rapidly resigned because he found the Commission too favourable to Germany. President of the Commission of the Foreign Affairs of the Senate, he caused in 1921 the defeat of Aristide Briand's government, found too weak with Germany during the conference on reparations hold in Cannes.
Poincaré was again President of the Council from January 1922 to June 1924, claiming to defend "the integral application of the treaty of Versailles". In January 1923, he ordered the military occupation of the Ruhr district, causing international reprobation. In 1924, Poincaré was defeated by the Cartel des Gauches but he came back to power in July 1926, leading a national union government, without the Socialists. He won triumphally the general election 1928 and devaluated the franc the same year. By the monetary law from 25 June 1928, the new franc, nicknamed franc Poincaré had 1/5th of its 1914 value. Poincaré resigned in July 1929 because of health problems and wrote his memoirs, entitled Au service de la France.

Ivan Sache, 1 October 2004

The emblem placed by Raymond Poincaré in the middle of the white stripe of his personal flag is made of his initials RP in gold, as shown by National Geographic (1917) [gmc17].

Željko Heimer, 30 September 2001

Paul Deschanel (1920)

[Flag of Deschanel]

Paul Deschanel's standard - Image by Željko Heimer, 10 December 2004

Paul Deschanel (1855-1922) was born in Schaerbeek/Schaarbeek, near Brussels, where his father had exiled during the Second Empire. Young Deschanel was Victor Hugo's godchild and grew up in Paris, where his family came back after the amnistia proclaimed by Napoléon III in 1859. Paul Deschanel was appointed Secretary in the Ministry of the Interior in 1876, then Secretary of the President of the Council and Préfet in 1877.
Elected Deputy in 1885, Deschanel presided the Chamber from 1898 to 1902 and from 1912 to 1920. He was an unsuccessful candidate to the Presidency in 1913 against Raymond Poincaré.
On 16 November 1919, the first general election since 1914 was organized in France. The center and right parties set up the Bloc national républicain, whose aims were the strict implementation of the treaty of Versailles (l'Allemagne paiera, Germany shall pay), the indemnification of war victims, and the defense of "civilization against Bolshevism". The latter item of the program was illustrated by the famous poster showing the "Bolshevik peril" as a scary man with a knife between the teeth. The picture was intended to recall the slaughter of the Russian imperial family in Ekaterinburg. The big strikes that took place in the first months of 1919 also favoured the Bloc national.
The Bloc national easily defeated its opponents, mostly the Radicals and the Socialists. The electoral system increased the importance of the victory of the Bloc national, which won 2/3 of the seats; the Radicals lost half of their Deputies, whereas the Socialist increased their representation. Out of the 616 Deputies, 369 were newcomers. Since several deputies, mostly from the Bloc national were war veterans, the Chamber was nicknamed the chambre bleu horizon, as a reference to the colour of the French uniforms.
The new session of the Parliament opened in a very consensual and patriotic atmosphere, since deputies from Alsace-Lorraine returned for the first time in the Palais-Bourbon since 1870. The consensus, however, broke down for the election of the President of the Republic. Georges Clémenceau, the architect of the victory, believed he would be easily elected, without even being a formal candidate. However, the Parliament mistrusted him. Clémenceau as the President would be very authoritarian and would rule the country, which was the role of the Parliament and not of the President at that time. Aristide Briand, who hated Clémenceau, reminded the Catholic Deputies that Clémenceau was extremely non-religious, and proposed Paul Deschanel as a better candidate. Deschanel defeated Clémenceau in a preliminary vote by a small margin; Clémenceau withdrew from the competition and the public life.

Paul Deschanel was elected President of the Republic on 17 January 1920. Alexandre Millerand was appointed President of the Council on 20 January 1920 and set up a government with members from the Bloc national and Radicals, still in the majority in the Senate. Deschanel's mental health quickly declined. In May 1920, the President fell out of the window of the Presidential train near Orléans; a railway worker named Rateau found him walking on the railways, and was told: Mon ami, ça va vous étonner, mais je suis le Président de la République ! (My friend, don't be surprised, I am the President of the Republic!). On 10 September, Deschanel was seen bathing, completely naked, in a basin of the castle of Rambouillet. He resigned on 21 September 1920, was sent into a convalescent home and was elected Senator in 1921. He was succeeded by Alexandre Millerand.
Paul Deschanel was a very refined and cultured writer; he was elected at the Académie Française in 1899.

Ivan Sache, 8 December 2004

The personal flag of Paul Deschanel is shown in the 1923 supplement of the Album des pavillons, guidons, flammes de toutes les puissances maritimes [f9r23], first edited by Le Gras in 1858.
The flag is a French Tricolore with the monogram of the President, the letters P D in gold, in the middle of the white stripe. A smaller, black and white image published in Emblèmes et Pavillons #1, confirms the design of the flag.

Dominique Cureau & Jaume Ollé, 8 December 2004

Albert Lebrun (1932-1940)

[Flag of Lebrun]

Albert Lebrun's standard - Image by Željko Heimer, 25 September 2004

Albert Lebrun (1871-1950) was appointed several times Minister between 1911 and 1920, and elected President of the Senate in 1931. He was the last president of the Third Republic, from 1932 to July 1940.
On 6 May 1932, between the two rounds of the legislative election, President of the Republic Paul Doumer (1857-1932), elected in 1931, was murdered by Gorguloff. Albert Lebrun, then president of the Senate, was elected president of the Republic.
The mandate of Albert Lebrun was characterized by a great political instability and the increase of international threats. The following list of the presidents of the Council (then equivalent to a Prime Minister) emphasizes this instability:

  • 3 June 1932 - 14 December 1932: Edouard Herriot
  • 18 December 1932 - 27 January 1933: Paul Boncour
  • 31 January 1933 - 23 October 1933: Edouard Daladier
  • 26 October 1933 - 23 November 1933: Albert Sarraut
  • 26 November 1933 - 27 January 1934: Camille Chautemps
  • 30 January 1934 - 7 February 1934: Edouard Daladier
  • 9 February 1934 - 8 November 1934: Gaston Doumergue
  • 8 November 1934 - 30 May 1935: Pierre-Etienne Flandin
  • 1 June 1935 - 4 June 1935: Bouisson
  • 7 June 1935 - 22 January 1936: Pierre Laval
  • 4 June 1936 - 21 June 1937 : Léon Blum
  • 22 June 1937 - 15 January 1938: Camille Chautemps
  • 18 January 1938 - 10 March 1938: Camille Chautemps
  • 13 March 1938 - 8 April 1938: Léon Blum
  • 10 April 1938 - 20 March 1940: Edouard Daladier
  • 22 March 1940 - 9 May 1940: Paul Reynaud
  • 18 May 1940 - 16 June 1940: Paul Reynaud
  • 16 June 1940 - 10 July 1940: Philippe Pétain

Lebrun was reelected President of the Republic on 5 April 1939. On 10 July 1940, the two chambers gave the full powers to Pétain, which de facto ended the Third Republic and Albert Lebrun's mandate. Lebrun brillantly graduated at the Ecole Polytechnique, but he was very unassuming and did not play any significant role in the French politics.

Albert Lebrun's personal flag, as shown in Flaggenbuch [neu92] is a square Tricolore with the golden letters AL in the middle of the white stripe.

Ivan Sache, 25 September 2004