Alexandre Ribot: Odyssey of a Liberal in the Third Republic by M.E. Schmidt

By M.E. Schmidt

In 1878 Alexandre Ribot assumed his position on the left-center of the French Chamber of Deputies. From the following he begun a lifelong attempt to set up a average republic established upon his perception of liberal political values. The time appeared propitious to instill lofty objective into French political lifestyles, for his access into the Chamber coincided with the consolidation of the republican regime following the problem of sixteen could. however the first wave of republican anti-clericalism published the fragility of Ribot's hopes. throughout the subsequent 40 years, successive dramatic stages in republican heritage - Boulangism, the Dreyfus Affair, separa­ tion of church and country, the emergence of socialism, and finally, the calls for of wartime management - might try out Ribot's method of political values. Adaptive and resilient, he sophisticated his definition of liberalism in keeping with political swap and the cost that his plea for liberty and toleration had turn into as a substitute sanctuary for a privileged type in French society.

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358-59 and pp. 372-76. , typescript extract, Ribot MSS. 39 Speech by Ribot, Chamber of Deputies, 30 March 1885, An. Ch. Dibats, session ordinaire de 1885, p. 705. 40 Emile de Marcere, Entretiens et souvenirs politiques (Paris: A. Bellier et Cie, 1894), II, 29-30. 36 37 POLITICS AS A PROFESSION, 1878-1889 35 cost him votes in the forthcoming election. 41 Applause from his friends could not shake his misgivings. Ribot prepared for the elections of 1885 without enthusiasm, in the realization that the broader hopes which he had brought to politics had failed to materialize.

Georges Picot to Ribot, personal letter, 14 May 1879; Ribot to Boucher, personal letter, 22 May 1879, Ribot MSS. 6 Picot to Ribot, personal letters, 24 and 26 April IB79, Ribot MSS. 7 Henri Avenel, HistoiTe de La presse franfaise depuis 1789 jusqu'o. nos jours (Paris: E. Flammarion, 1900), pp. 752-54. 4 6 POLITICS AS A PROFESSION, 1878-1889 bered at all today it is for its literary content: Paul Bourget, Andre Heurteau, james Darmsteter, and Brunetiere all contributed articles to the journal. 8 Parlement sought a place in the competitive journalistic world between monarchists and opportunists to support Ribot's role in the Chamber.

He defended the rights of parliament against those of the cabinet by drawing an exaggerated parallel to Bismarck's treatment of the Prussian Landtag. It was a popular line to take, and the Chamber listened to Gambetta's rebuttal in "glacial" silence. Joseph Reinach, Gambetta's lieutenant and historian of the ministry, admitted that Ribot "was a little to Gambetta what Wellington had been formerly to Napoleon .... "28 While Gambetta received his credits, Ribot had shrewdly calculated the depths of suspicion against the man and exposed the ephemeral nature of the opportunist government.

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