Online Encyclopedia

DEPARTMENT (Fr. departement, from dep...

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V08, Page 56 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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DEPARTMENT (Fr. departement, from departir, to separate into parts), a division. The word is used of the branches of the administration in a state or municipality; in Great Britain it is applied to the subordinate divisions only of the great offices and boards of state, such as the bankruptcy department of the Board of Trade, but in the United States these subordinate divisions are known as " bureaus," while " department " is used of the eight chief branches of the executive. A particular use of the word is that for a territorial division of France, corresponding loosely to an English county. Previous to the French Revolution, the local unit in France was the province, but this division was too closely bound up with the administrative mismanagement of the old regime. Accordingly, at the suggestion of Mirabeau, France was redivided on entirely new lines, the thirty-four provinces being broken up into eighty-three departments (see FRENCH REVOLUTION). The idea was to render them as nearly as possible equal to a certain average of size and population, though this was not always adhered to. They derived their names principally from rivers, mountains or other prominent geographical features. Under Napoleon the number was increased to one hundred and thirty, but in 1815 it was reduced to eighty-six. In 186o three new departments were created out of the newly annexed territory of Savoy and Nice. In 1871 three departments (Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin and Moselle) were lost after the German war. Of the remains of the Haut-Rhin was formed the territory of Belfort, and the fragments of the Moselle were incorporated in the department of Meurthe, which was renamed Meurthe-et-Moselle, making the number at present eighty-seven. For a complete list of the departments see FRANCE. Each department is presided over by an officer called a prefect, appointed by the government, and assisted by a prefectorial council (conseil de prefecture). The departments are subdivided into arrondissements, each in charge of a sub-prefect. Arrondissements are again subdivided into cantons, and these into communes, somewhat equivalent to the English parish (see FRANCE: Local Government). DE PERE, a city of Brown county, Wisconsin, U.S.A., on both sides of the Fox river, 6 m. above its mouth, and 109 M. N. of Milwaukee. Pop. (1890) 3625; (1900) 4038, of whom 1025 were foreign-born; (1905, state census) 4523. It is served by the Chicago & North-Western and Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul railways, by interurban electric lines and by lake and river steamboat lines, it being the head of lake navigation on the Fox river. Two bridges here span the Fox, which is from a m. to 2 m. in width. It is a shipping and transfer point and has paper mills, machine shops, flour mills, sash, door and blind factories, a launch and pleasure-boat factory, and knitting works, cheese factories and dairies, brick yards and grain elevators. There is an excellent water-power. De Pere is the seat of St Norbert's college (Roman Catholic, 1902) and has a public library. North of the city is located the state reformatory. On the coming of the first European, Jean Nicolet, who visited the place in 1634–1635i De Pere was the site of a polyglot Indian settlement of several thousand attracted by the fishing at the first rapids of the Fox river. Here in 167o Father Claude Allouez established the mission of St Francis Xavier, the second in what is now Wisconsin, From the name Rapides des Peres, which the French applied to the place, was derived the name De Pere. Here Nicolas Perrot, the first French commandant in the North-West, established his headquarters, and Father Jacques Marquette wrote the journal of his journey to the Mississippi. A few miles south of the city lived for many years Eleazer Williams (c. 1787–1857), the alleged " lost dauphin" Louis XVII. of France and an authority on Indians, especially Iroquois. De Pere was incorporated as a village in 1857, and was chartered as a city in 1883.
End of Article: DEPARTMENT (Fr. departement, from departir, to separate into parts)

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