Georges Clemenceau: A Political Biography

By David Robin Watson | Go to book overview

14

SECOND MINISTRY:
DOMESTIC POLITICS

I PÈRE-LA-VICTOIRE

Clemenceau formed his second ministry on 16 November 1917, almost precisely one year before the armistice that ended the war with Germany. He was seventy-six years old, but this year saw the supreme moments of his life, and placed him in the pantheon of French national heroes. Clemenceau's incarnation of France's will to survive through these last terrible months was expressed in a new nickname, Père-La‐ Victoire. Impossible to translate, it expresses the feelings of respect, confidence and affection which he inspired. Père so-and-so is the sort of nickname given in French villages to an old man, probably a prosperous peasant or craftsman, who is regarded by his fellow villagers with friendly respect. It is an appellation that suggests how Clemenceau had completely outstepped limits of social class, of educational and cultural distinctions, and of sectarian politics. It suggests his 'common touch'. His speeches might use classical allusions — in his inaugural speech he talked of the day when he might have to answer for his mistakes at 'the tribunal of Aeacus, Rhadamanthos and Minos' — but he managed also to talk in a direct and earthy way that everybody could understand. More than anything, his frequent visits to the front line gained him general respect. The poilus, the infantry soldiers of the trenches, gave him the new nickname, expressing a different facet of his character from that which had earned him the sobriquet of 'the Tiger'.

His first concern was the preservation of national unity: he sought to prevent a gulf opening between the soldiers fighting at the front and the civilians who still enjoyed the comfort and security of peacetime life, and to prevent political disputes leading to too bitter a conflict between the different classes of society. In the long run it might be

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Georges Clemenceau: A Political Biography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Georges Clemenceau - A Political Biography *
  • Contents 5
  • Illustrations *
  • Acknowledgements 11
  • Part One - Childhood, Youth and the Commune I84i-1871 *
  • 1 - Childhood and Youth 15
  • 2 - The Commune 34
  • Part Two - The Radical Attack I87i-1889 *
  • 3 - Challenger from the Left 59
  • 4 - Clemenceau versus Ferry 81
  • 5 - Boulangism 101
  • Part Three - Defeat and Resurgence I889-1906 *
  • 6 - Panama 117
  • 7 - The Dreyfus Affair 138
  • Part Four - The First Ministry I906-1909 *
  • 8 - Minister of the Interior 167
  • 9 - Clemenceau as Premier 183
  • 10 - Clemenceau as Strike-Breaker 200
  • 11 - Foreign Policy 215
  • Part Five - Opposition I909-1917 *
  • 12 - In Opposition before the War 237
  • 13 - Opposition in Wartime 249
  • Part Six - Pere-La-Victoire I9i7-1918 *
  • 14 - Second Ministry: Domestic Politics 275
  • 15 - Military Strategy 293
  • 16 - Russian Intervention and Victory 315
  • Part Seven - The Peace Settlement and after I9i8-1929 *
  • 17 - The Versailles Treaty 331
  • 18 - The Middle East and Russia 366
  • 19 - Domestic Politics and Last Years 380
  • Part Eight - Conclusion *
  • 20 - Conclusion 397
  • Appendices Sources and Bibliography Index *
  • Appendix I 411
  • Appendix II 414
  • Appendix III 416
  • Appendix IV 417
  • Appendix V 424
  • Appendix VI 428
  • Appendix VII 434
  • Sources and Bibliography 438
  • Index 455
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