Born at Mont-sous-Vaudrey in the Jura mountains, he became an advocate in 1837, and, having steadily maintained republican principles under the Orléans monarchy, was elected by his native department to the Constituent Assembly of 1848. Foreseeing that Louis Bonaparte would be elected president by the people, he proposed to vest the chief authority in a president of the Council elected and removable by the Assembly, or in other words, to suppress the Presidency of the Republic. After the coup d'état this proposition gained Grévy a reputation for sagacity, and upon his return to public life in 1868 he took a prominent place in the republican party.
After the fall of the Empire he was chosen president of the Assembly on February 16 1871, and occupied this position till April 2 1876, when he resigned on account of the opposition of the Right, which blamed him for having called one of its members to order in the session of the previous day. On March 8 1876 he was elected president of the Chamber of Deputies, a post which he filled with such efficiency that upon the resignation of Marshal MacMahon he seemed to step naturally into the Presidency of the Republic (January 30 1879), and was elected without opposition by the republican parties.
Quiet, shrewd, attentive to the public interest and his own, but without any particular distinction, he would have left an unblemished reputation if he had not unfortunately accepted a second term (December 18 1885). Shortly afterwards the traffic of his son-in-law (Daniel Wilson) in the decorations of the Legion of Honour came to light. Grévy was not accused of personal participation in these scandals, but he was somewhat obstinate in refusing to realize that he was responsible indirectly for the use which his relative had made of the Elysée, and it had to be unpleasantly impressed upon him that his resignation was inevitable (December 2 1887). He died at Mont-sous-Vaudrey on the 9th of September 1891. He owed both his success and his failure to the completeness with which he represented the particular type of the thrifty, generally sensible and patriotic, but narrow-minded and frequently egoistic bourgeois.
See his Discours politiques et judiciaires, rapports et messages accompagnes de notices historiques et l'ricédis d'une introduction par L. Delabrousse (2 vols., 1888).
Edme Patrice, Count of MacMahon
|President of France||
Marie François Sadi Carnot