George Clemenceau

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  • Topic: Treaty of Versailles, Georges Clemenceau, Paris Peace Conference, 1919
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Georges Clemenceau
(28 September 1841 – 24 November 1929)

Georges Benjamin Clemenceau was a French statesman who led the nation to victory in the First World War. A leader of the Radical Party, he played a central role in politics after 1870. Clemenceau served as the Prime Minister of France from 1906 to 1909, and again from 1917 to 1920. He was one of the principal architects of the Treaty of Versailles at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Nicknamed "Le Tigre" (The Tiger), he took a very harsh position against defeated Germany and won agreement on Germany's payment of large sums for reparations.

Sophie Eucharie Gautreau Benjamin Clemenceau

Georges Clemenceau was born in Mouilleron-en-Pareds, France, on 28th September, 1841. His mother, Sophie Eucharie Gautreau (1817-1903) was from a Huguenot family. His father, Benjamin Clemenceau (1810-1897) was a supporter of the 1848 Revolution and this ensured he grew up with strong republican views.

In Paris, the young Clemenceau became a political activist and writer. In December 1861, he co-founded a weekly newsletter, Le Travail, along with some friends. On 23 February 1862, he was arrested by the police for having placed posters summoning a demonstration. He spent 77 days in the Mazas prison. Mazas Prison

 On his release he started a new journal, Le Matin, but this also got him into trouble with the authorities. He graduated as a doctor on 13 May 1865, after finishing his medical studies he went to live in New York. He was impressed by the political freedom enjoyed by the people of the United States and considered settling permanently in the country. He found work as a schoolteacher in Stamford, Connecticut and eventually married one of his former students.

On 23 June 1869, he married one of his students, Mary Elizabeth Plummer (1850–1923), in New York City. She was the daughter of William Kelly Plummer and wife Harriet A. Taylor. The Clemenceaus had three children together before the marriage ended in divorce after 7 years.

He returned to Paris after the fall of the regime with the defeat at Sedan. He took part in the Paris Commune but was there to establish the Third Republic. His political career began in earnest at this time. In February, 1871, Clemenceau was elected as a Radical Republican deputy in the National Assembly. He voted against the peace terms demanded by Germany and became involved in the insurrection known as the Paris Commune. After being re-elected to the National Assembly in 1876, Clemenceau emerged as the leader of the Radical-Republicans. As a result of his aggressive debating style, Clemenceau was given the nickname, 'The Tiger'. In 1902 Clemenceau became a senator and four years later, at the age of 61, was appointed minister of home affairs. Now a right-wing nationalist, Clemenceau ruthlessly suppressed popular strikes and demonstrations. Seven months later Clemenceau became France's prime minister. His period in office (1907-10) was marked by his hostility to socialists and trade unionists. After his 1893 defeat, Clemenceau confined his political activities to journalism. His career was further overclouded by the long-drawn-out Dreyfus case, The Dreyfus affair. It involved the conviction for treason in November 1894 of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young French artillery officer of Alsatian Jewish descent. Sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly having communicated French military secrets to the German Embassy in Paris, On 13 January 1898 Clemenceau, as owner and editor of the Paris daily newspaper L'Aurore, n the front page. He decided to run the controversial article, which would become a famous part of the Dreyfus Affair, in the form of an open letter to the President, Félix Faure. He served as senator of Draguignan until 1920. He sat with the Radical-Socialist Party and moderated his...
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