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THEOPHILE DELCASSE (1852– )

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Originally appearing in Volume V07, Page 953 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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THEOPHILE DELCASSE (1852– ), French statesman, was born at Pamiers, in the department of Ariege, on the 1st of March 1852. He wrote articles on foreign affairs for the Republique francaise and Paris, and in 1888 was elected conseiller general of his native department, standing as " un disciple fidele de Gambetta." In the following year he entered the chamber as deputy for Foix. He was appointed under-secretary for the colonies in the second Ribot cabinet (January to April 1893), and retained his post in the Dupuy cabinet till its fall in December 1893. It was largely owing to his efforts that the French colonial office was made a separate department with a minister at its head, and to this office he was appointed in the second Dupuy cabinet (May 1894 to January 1895). He gave a great impetus to French colonial enterprise, especially in West Africa, where he organized the newly acquired h colony of Dahomey, and despatched the Liotard mission to the Upper Ubangi. While in opposition he devoted special attention to naval affairs, and in speeches that attracted much notice declared that the function of the French navy was to secure and develop colonial enterprise, deprecated all attempts to rival the British fleet, and advocated the construction of commerce destroyers as France's best reply to England. On the formation of the second Brisson cabinet in June 1898 he succeeded M. Hanotaux at the foreign office, and retained that post under the subsequent premierships of MM. Dupuy, Waldeck-Rousseau, Combes and Rouvier. In 1898 he had to deal with the delicate situation caused by Captain Marchand's occupation of Fashoda, for which, as he admitted in a speech in the chamber on the 23rd of January 1899, he accepted full responsibility, since it arose directly out of the Liotard expedition, which he had himself organized while minister for the colonies; and in March 1899 he concluded an agreement with Great Britain by, which the difficulty was finally adjusted, and France consolidated her vast colonial empire in North-West Africa. In the same year he acted as mediator between the United States and Spain, and brought the peace negotiations to a successful conclusion. He introduced greater cordiality into the relations of France with Italy: at the same time he adhered firmly to the alliance with Russia, and in August 1899 made a visit to St Petersburg, which he repeated in April 1901. In June rgoo he made an arrangement with Spain, fixing the long-disputed boundaries of the French and Spanish possessions in West Africa. Finally he concluded with England the important Agreements of 1904 covering colonial and other questions which had long been a matter of dispute, especially concerning Egypt, Newfoundland and Morocco. Suspicion of the growing entente between France and England soon arose on the part of Germany, and.in 1905 German assertiveness was shown in a crisis which was forced on in the matter of the French activity in Morocco (q.v.), in which the handling of French policy by M. Delcasse personally was a sore point with Germany. The situation became acute in April, and was only relieved by M. Delcasse's resignation of office. He retired into private life, but in 1908 was warmly welcomed on a visit to England, where the closest relations now existed with France.
End of Article: THEOPHILE DELCASSE (1852– )
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