Théophile Delcassé was a French statesman
A statesman is usually a politician or other notable public figure who has had a long and respected career in politics or government at the national and international level. As a term of respect, it is usually left to supporters or commentators to use the term...
BiographyHe was born at Pamiers
Pamiers is a commune in the Ariège department in the Midi-Pyrénées region in southwestern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department. Although Pamiers is the largest city in Ariège, the capital is the smaller town of Foix...
, in the Ariège
Ariège is a department in southwestern France named after the Ariège River.- History :Ariège is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790. It was created from the counties of Foix and Couserans....
département. He wrote articles on foreign affairs for the République Française and Paris, and in 1888 was elected conseiller général of his native département, standing as "un disciple fidèle de Léon Gambetta
Léon Gambetta was a French statesman prominent after the Franco-Prussian War.-Youth and education:He is said to have inherited his vigour and eloquence from his father, a Genovese grocer who had married a Frenchwoman named Massabie. At the age of fifteen, Gambetta lost the sight of his right eye...
." In the following year he entered the chamber as deputy for Foix
Foix is a commune, the capital of the Ariège department in southwestern France. It is the least populous administrative centre of a department in all of France, although it is only very slightly smaller than Privas...
. 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
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...
, where he organized the newly acquired colony of Dahomey
Dahomey was a country in west Africa in what is now the Republic of Benin. The Kingdom of Dahomey was a powerful west African state that was founded in the seventeenth century and survived until 1894. From 1894 until 1960 Dahomey was a part of French West Africa. The independent Republic of Dahomey...
, and despatched the Liotard mission to the upper Ubangi
The Ubangi River , also spelled Oubangui, is the largest right-bank tributary of the Congo River of Central Africa. It begins at the confluence of the Mbomou and Uele Rivers and flows west, then bends to the southwest and passes through Bangui, after which it flows south to the Congo at Liranga....
While in opposition, he devoted special attention to naval affairs, and in noted speeches he declared that the function of the French navy
The French Navy, officially the Marine nationale and often called La Royale is the maritime arm of the French military. It includes a full range of fighting vessels, from patrol boats to a nuclear powered aircraft carrier and 10 nuclear-powered submarines, four of which are capable of launching...
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 Albert Auguste Gabriel Hanotaux at the foreign office, and retained that post under the subsequent premierships of Dupuy, Waldeck-Rousseau
this gy was coolPierre Marie René Ernest Waldeck-Rousseau was a French Republican statesman.-Early life:Pierre Waldeck-Rousseau was born in Nantes, Loire-Atlantique...
Émile Combes was a French statesman who led the Bloc des gauches's cabinet from June 1902 – January 1905.-Biography:Émile Combes was born in Roquecourbe, Tarn. He studied for the priesthood, but abandoned the idea before ordination. His anti-clericalism would later lead him into becoming a...
Maurice Rouvier was a French statesman.He was born in Aix-en-Provence, and spent his early career in business at Marseille. He supported Léon Gambetta's candidature there in 1867, and in 1870 he founded an anti-imperial journal, L'Egalité. Becoming secretary general of the prefecture of...
In 1898 he had to deal with the delicate situation caused by Captain Marchand's occupation of the town of Fashoda in the Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...
(the Fashoda Incident
The Fashoda Incident was the climax of imperial territorial disputes between Britain and France in Eastern Africa. A French expedition to Fashoda on the White Nile sought to gain control of the Nile River and thereby force Britain out of Egypt. The British held firm as Britain and France were on...
) for which, as he admitted in a speech in the chamber on 23 January 1899, he accepted full responsibility, since it arose directly out of the Liotard expedition; and in March 1899 he concluded an agreement with 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 (with main mediator being J. Cambon, French ambassador in Washington) between the United States of America and Spain, and brought the peace negotiations to a successful conclusion.
Delcassé was an expansionist and very anti-German. Kaiser Wilhelm called him "The most dangerous man for Germany in France". Delcassé improved relations between France and Italy: at the same time, he adhered firmly to the alliance with Russia, and in August 1899 made a visit to Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...
, which he repeated in April 1901. In June 1900 he made an arrangement with Spain, fixing the long-disputed boundaries of the French and Spanish possessions in West Africa. Finally he concluded the Entente Cordiale
The Entente Cordiale was a series of agreements signed on 8 April 1904 between the United Kingdom and the French Republic. Beyond the immediate concerns of colonial expansion addressed by the agreement, the signing of the Entente Cordiale marked the end of almost a millennium of intermittent...
with Great Britain, covering colonial and other questions which had long been a matter of dispute, especially concerning Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...
, Newfoundland and Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...
. Suspicion of the growing entente between France and England soon arose in Germany, and in 1905 German assertiveness was shown in a crisis
First Moroccan Crisis
The First Moroccan Crisis was the international crisis over the international status of Morocco between March 1905 and May 1906. Germany resented France's increasing dominance of Morocco, and insisted on an open door policy that would allow German business access to its market...
which was forced on in the matter of French policy by Delcassé personally, a sore point with Germany. The situation became acute, and was only really relieved by Delcassé's resignation in early 1906.
He retired into private life, was prevailed upon to return in 1909 as chairman of a commission appointed to investigate the French navy. Later he promulgated closer cooperation between the British and French fleets. This arrangement was an important factor in leading Britain to side with France against Germany when World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...
started. He continued during the war as foreign minister, before retiring in 1915.