He was born at Saujon (Charente-Inférieure), and began his career as an advocate at Bordeaux, where he won a great reputation by his oratorical gifts. He abandoned law for politics, and in 1834 was elected deputy. In 1839 he became minister of public works in the Soult ministry, and succeeded in freeing railway construction in France from the obstacles which till then had hampered it.
Losing office in 1840, Dufaure became one of the leaders of the Opposition, and on the outbreak of the revolution of 1848 he accepted the Republic, and joined the party of moderate republicans. On October 13 he became minister of the interior under Louis-Eugène Cavaignac, but retired on the latter's defeat in the presidential election. During the Second French Empire, Dufaure abstained from public life, and practised at the Paris bar with such success that he was elected botonnier in 1862.
In 1863 he succeeded to Étienne Pasquier's seat in the French Academy. In 1871 he became a member of the Assembly, and proposed Adolphe Thiers as President of the Republic. Dufaure became the minister of justice as chief of the party of the "left-centre," and his tenure of office was distinguished by the passage of the jury-law. In 1873 he fell with Thiers, but in 1875 resumed his former post under Louis Buffet, whom he succeeded on March 9 1876 as president of the council. In the same year he was elected a life senator. On December 12 he withdrew from the ministry owing to the attacks of the republicans of the left in the chamber and of the conservatives in the senate.
After the conservatives' defeat on May 16, he returned to power on December 24 1877. Early in 1879 Dufaure took part in compelling the resignation of Marshal MacMahon, but immediately afterwards (February 1), worn out by opposition, he retired.
See G Picot, M. Dufaure, sa vie et ses discours (Paris, 1883).
This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.