Herriot, Édouard

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Herriot, Édouard

Édouard Herriot (ādwär´ ĕryō´), 1872–1957, French statesman and man of letters. After beginning an academic career he turned to politics. A moderate leftist, anticlerical, and antimilitarist, he rose to leadership of the Radical Socialist (Radical) party, a dominant party in France from 1899 to 1940. In 1904 he was elected mayor of Lyons, an office he held until 1941 and again after 1945. He subsequently became a deputy, president of the chamber of deputies, member of several ministries, and three times premier (notably 1924–25 and 1932). His first premiership saw the evacuation of the Ruhr, occupied under his predecessor, Raymond Poincaré; the continued fall of the franc led to Herriot's resignation in 1925. During his term in 1932, Herriot sought a conciliatory policy among France, Great Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union, and Germany. At the Disarmament Conference of 1932 he upheld in principle the demand for French security but submitted a modified plan to keep the conference from foundering. He was one of the few French statesmen to advocate payment by France of the war debts to the United States; on this question his cabinet fell. An opponent of the Vichy government in World War II, Herriot was arrested in 1942 and taken to Germany in 1944. Freed in 1945, he resumed leadership of the Radicals, who had dwindled in size and had long ceased to be a leftist group. In 1956 he resigned the party presidency in protest against a party split. Long held in high personal esteem, Herriot served (1947–54) as president of the national assembly, which had replaced the chamber of deputies. He was also an ardent advocate of a European confederation, for which he set forth a plan in The United States of Europe (tr. 1930). Among his nonpolitical writings are Madame Récamier (tr. 1925) and a biography of Beethoven (tr. 1935).

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