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Lascar Catargiu

Lascar Catargiu (1823-April 11, 1899), Romanian statesman, was born in Moldavia in November 1823. He belonged to an ancient Wallachian family, one of whose members had been banished in the 17th century by Prince Matthew Bassarab, and had settled in Moldavia. Under Prince Gregory Ghica (1849-1856), Catargiu rose to be prefect of police at Iasi. In 1857 he became a member of the Divan ad hoc of Moldavia, a commission elected in accordance with the treaty of Paris (1856) to vote on the proposed union of Moldavia and Wallachia. His strongly conservative views, especially on agrarian reform, induced the Conservatives to support him as a candidate for the throne in 1859. During the reign of Prince Cuza (1859-1866), Catargiu was one of the Opposition leaders, and received much assistance from his kinsman, Barbu Catargiu (b. 1807), a noted journalist and politician, who was assassinated at Bucharest on the June 20, 1862. On the accession of Prince Charles I of Romania in May 1866, Lascar Catargiu became president of the council, or prime minister; but, finding himself unable to cooperate with his Liberal colleagues, Ion Bratianu and C. A. Rosetti, he resigned in July. After eight more ministerial changes, culminating in the anti-dynastic agitation of 1870-1871, Catargiu formed, for the first title in Romanian history, a stable Conservative cabinet, which lasted until 1876. His policy, which averted revolution and revived the popularity of the crown, was regarded as unpatriotic and reactionary by the Liberals, who resumed office in 1876; and a proposal to impeach the whole Catargiu cabinet was only withdrawn in 1878. Catargiu remained in opposition until 1889, when he formed another cabinet, taking the portfolio of the Interior; but this administration fell after seven months. In the Florescu ministry of March 1891 he occupied the same position, and in December be again became president of the coundil, retaining office until 1895. During this period he was responsible for several useful reforms, chiefly financial and commercial. He died suddenly at Bucharest on the April 11, 1899.