Thiers, Louis-Adolphe

   statesman, journalist, historian
   Born in Marseille, Louis-Adolphe Thiers was an attorney in Aix-en-Provence before coming to Paris, where he frequented literary circles. There, he contributed to a journal, La Constitution, and published, between 1823 and 1827, his Histoire de la Révolution. A founder, with armand carrel and others, of the opposition newspaper Le National (January 1830), he became the defender of a constitutional monarchy based on the English model and, on July 26, 1830, took part in the drafting of the journalists' protest to the Ordinances of Saint-Cloud, thus beginning the revolution of 1830. Having supported the orléanists, Thiers served successively as councilor of state, deputy for Aix, secretary-general to the minister of finances in the leftist cabinet, minister of the interior (1832), then of agriculture and trade (1834). Carrying the portfolio of the interior and of foreign affairs (1834-36), he took a strong stand against the legitimist-royalist opposition (the affair of the duchesse of Berry, 1839), as well as against the republican riots of April 1834. After King louis-philippe refused to intervene in Spanish affairs, as Thiers had wished, he was dismissed (1836) but returned to the government in 1840 as foreign minister. in that role, Thiers pursued an aggressive policy, intervening in North Africa and almost causing a war with Great Britain after signing the Treaty of London (July 1840). Forced to resign again, he began work on his Histoire du Consulat et de l'Empire (1845-62) while remaining as a center-left deputy in the opposition and taking part in the fall of the government of François guizot. On February 23, 1840, Louis-Philippe recalled Thiers to form a new ministry, but it was too late. Thiers sided with the provisional government and, as deputy, consistently voted with the conservative right against the socialists. After having supported the candidacy of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (see napoléon III) for the presidency, he then fought against the creation of the second empire, was arrested, and, after the coup d'état of December 2, 1851, went into exile in Switzerland. Returning to France in 1852, he remained out of politics until 1863. He became leader of the liberal opposition and roused the National Assembly by his speech on "necessary freedom" (personal, electoral, and press), and through his opposition to the emperor's foreign policy. After the defeat at Sedan and the surrender of Napoléon III, he was sent by jules favre to various European capitals to plead the French cause (September-October 1870). After this fruitless effort, he was sent to negotiate with Bismarck at versailles (November 1870). Elected to the National Assembly, which since February 12, 1871, had been meeting at bordeaux, Thiers was named chief executive (February 17) and formed a government of national unity that chose versailles as its headquarters. The signing of the preliminaries with Bismarck (February 28), by which Thiers obtained a reduction of France's war indemnity and kept Belfort as French territory, and then the Bordeaux Pact (March 10, 1871), which left in suspension the question of national institutions until an administrative reorganization took place, angered Parisians, whose economic, social, and military situation was a catastrophe. Thiers's subsequent attempt to confiscate artillery from Paris caused the Paris commune uprising. Having made the decision to leave the city (March 25), Thiers signed the Treaty of Frankfurt with Prussia (May 10) and shortly after violently suppressed the Commune ("Bloody Week," May 22-28). As president of the republic, he sought to pay off the French indemnity, reform finances and the military (institution of five years' obligatory service), and secure the total German evacuation of French territory by 1873. Nonetheless, he was defeated in May 1873 by the conservative majority and replaced by marshal edme mac-mahon. Elected deputy, he again served as a leader of the republican opposition. Thiers was elected to the Académie Française in 1833.

France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present . 1884.

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