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President Casimir-Périer (Third Republic, France)

Last modified: 2018-06-27 by ivan sache
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Casimir-Périer's standard - Image by Željko Heimer, 27 September 2004

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Biography of Casimir-Périer

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 July Monarchy. 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.

Flag of Casimir-Périer

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 centre of the white stripe is made of the interlaced letters "C" and "P".

Ivan Sache & Armand du Payrat, 30 September 2004