Jean Jaurès (zhäN zhōrĕs´), 1859–1914, French Socialist leader and historian. A brilliant student and teacher, he entered the chamber of deputies in 1885 and subsequently became a Socialist. In his Socialist journals, notably Humanité, he denounced nationalism and upheld socialism and world peace. Jaurès saw socialism as the economic equivalent of political democracy; he believed that economic equality would come as the result of peaceful revolution. He sought to reconcile Marxian materialism and his own idealistic beliefs and emphasized the importance of individual rights and initiative. As leader of the Socialists, he opposed Boulanger, defended Dreyfus, and worked for the separation of church and state. He was active in the formation (1905) of the unified French Socialist party, and he attempted to preserve party harmony. In 1914, Jaurès advocated arbitration instead of war and declared that capitalist nations, including France, were responsible for the war crisis. He was assassinated by a fanatical patriot in July, 1914. His Histoire socialiste de la Révolution française (new ed. by Albert Mathiez, 8 vol., 1922–24), an economic interpretation of the French Revolution, strikes a balance between the materialistic approach of Marx and the dramatic history of Michelet.
See biographies by J. H. Jackson (1943) and H. Goldberg (1962).