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Henri Brisson

Eugène Henri Brisson (July 31, 1835 - April 14, 1912) was a French statesman, prime minister of France for a period in 1885-1886 and again in 1898.

He was born at Bourges, and followed his father’s profession of advocate. Having made his mark in opposition during the last days of the empire, he was appointed deputy-mayor of Paris after the government was overthrown. He was elected to the Assembly on February 8 1871, as a member of the extreme Left. While not approving of the Commune, he was the first to propose amnesty for the condemned (on September 13 1871), but the proposal was voted down. He strongly supported compulsory primary education, and was firmly anti-clerical. He was president of the chamber from 1881--replacing Léon Gambetta--to March 1885, when he became prime minister upon the resignation of Jules Ferry; but he resigned when, after the general elections of that year, he only just obtained a majority for the vote of credit for the Torigking expedition.

He remained conspicuous as a public man, took a prominent part in exposing the Panama scandals, was a powerful candidate for the presidency after the murder of President Carnot in 1894, and was again president of the chamber from December 1894 to 1898. In June of the latter year he formed a cabinet when the country was violently excited over the Dreyfus affair; his firmness and honesty increased popular respect for him, but a chance vote on a matter of especial excitement overthrew his ministry in October. As a leader of the radicals he actively supported, the ministries of Waldeck-Rousseau and Combes, especially corcerning the laws on the religious orders and the scparaticn of church andstate. In 1899 he was a candidate for the presidency. In May 1906 he was elected president of the chamber of deputies by 500 out of 581 votes.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.

Preceded by:
Jules Ferry
Prime Minister of France
Followed by:
Charles de Freycinet
Preceded by:
Jules Méline
Prime Minister of France
Followed by:
Charles Dupuy