Clemenceau and the Third Republic

By J. Hampden Jackson | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
The Making of a Man

THE Clemenceau FAMILY had lived in the Vendée for centuries. In the early days they were yeoman-farmers, working the land they owned, but as time went on they came to own rather more and to work rather less, until they had leisure. Unlike the neighbouring squires, some of them devoted their leisure to intellectual pursuits. Being of a practical turn of mind, the Clemenceau men turned to the study of medicine: there was an apothecary in the family in the seventeenth century, and the great-grandfather, the grandfather and the father of Georges Clemenceau were all doctors. None of them practised much. They were thoughtful country gentlemen first and doctors second. Tending the ailments of the peasantry soon taught them that disease is not to be cured by pills or probes. Poverty was at the root of onehalf of the ills from which the peasants suffered, and ignorance crossed with superstition was at the root of the other half. The Vendée was one of the most backward and priest-ridden provinces of France; a political purge would be needed to give it health. So the Clemenceau men turned to politics. They were Radicals at the time of the Revolution, when one of their cousins, Laréveillière-Lepeaux, voted in the Convention for the death sentence on the King and took part in the stamping-out of the Catholic and Royalist insurrection in the Vendée. The grandfather of Georges Clemenceau was a Jacobin and the father, Dr. Benjamin, was a Republican, notorious for his opposition to King Louis-Philippe and to the Emperor Louis-Napoléon, and still more notorious for his atheism.

The family seat was the Chateau de l'Aubraie, a moated mediæval castle buried in the woods near Féol. For one reason or another -- possibly because he was quarrelling with his bucolic brother Paul, possibly be

-11-

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Clemenceau and the Third Republic
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Introduction 7
  • Chapter 1 - The Making of A Man 11
  • Chapter 2 - The First Crisis: 1870-71 26
  • Chapter 3 - The Making of A Republic 39
  • Chapter 4 - The Second Crisis: Panama 56
  • Chapter 5 - The Making of A Mind 71
  • Chapter 6 - The Third Crisis: Dreyfus 84
  • Chapter 7 - The Making of A Government 99
  • Chapter 8 - The Fourth Crisis: 1914-18 119
  • Chapter 9 - The Making of A Peace 134
  • Chapter 10 - The Last Crisis 155
  • Envoi 169
  • Short Bibliography 179
  • Index 181
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