Briand, Aristide

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Briand, Aristide

Aristide Briand (ärēstēd´ brēäN´), 1862–1932, French statesman. A lawyer and a Socialist, he entered (1902) the chamber of deputies and helped to draft and pass the law (1905) for separation of church and state. Made (1906) minister of education and minister of religion to execute the law, he was ejected from the Socialist party for participating in the bourgeois cabinet of premier Jean Sarrien. In 1909 he became premier for the first of 11 times. In World War I, Briand headed (1915–17) two successive coalition cabinets and made the decision to hold Verdun at any cost. His government fell in Mar., 1917; attacked by Georges Clemenceau for attempting to negotiate a peace with Germany in 1917, Briand retired. After the war he emerged as a leading advocate of international peace and cooperation, and he is best remembered for his devotion to this cause. The cabinet he headed in 1921 fell because of his unpopular criticism of the Treaty of Versailles and his moderate demands at international conferences, where he worked for a reconciliation with Germany without the sacrifice of French security. As foreign minister from 1925 to 1932 he was the chief architect of the Locarno Pact (1925) and the Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928), and he shared the 1926 Nobel Peace Prize with Gustav Stresemann. An impressive orator, Briand was a prominent figure in the League of Nations. He advocated a plan for a United States of Europe.

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