1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chevalier, Michel

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

CHEVALIER, MICHEL (1806–1879), French economist, was born at Limoges on the 13th of January 1806. In his early manhood, while employed as an engineer, he became a convert to the theories of Saint Simon; these he ardently advocated in the Globe, the organ of the Saint Simonians, which he edited until his arrest in 1832 on a charge of outraging public morality by its publication. He was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment, but was released in six months through the intervention of Thiers, who sent him on a special mission to the United States to study the question of land and water transport. In 1836 he published, in two volumes, the letters he wrote from America to the Journal des débats. These attracted so much attention that he was sent in the same year on an economic mission to England, which resulted in his publication (in 1838) of Des intérêts matériels de la France. The success of this made his position secure, and in 1840 he was appointed professor of political economy in the Collège de France. He sat for a short time (1845–1846) as a member of the Chamber of Deputies, but lost his seat owing to his enthusiastic adoption of the principles of free trade. Under Napoleon III. he was restored to the position of which the revolution of 1848 had temporarily deprived him. In 1850 he became a member of the Institute, and in the following year published an important work in favour of free trade, under the title of Examen du système commercial connu sous le nom de système protecteur. His chief public triumph was the important part he played in bringing about the conclusion of the commercial treaty between France and Great Britain in 1860. Previously to this he had served, in 1855, upon the commission for organizing the Exhibition of 1855, and his services there led to his forming one of the French jury of awards in the London Exhibition of 1862. He was created a member of the Senate in 1860, and continued for some years to take an active part in its discussions. He retired from public life in 1870, but was unceasingly industrious with his pen. He became grand officer of the Legion of Honour in 1861, and during the later years of his life received from many quarters public recognition of his eminence as a political economist. He died at his château near Montpellier (Hérault) on the 28th of November 1879. Many of his works have been translated into English and other languages. Besides those already mentioned the more important are: Cours d’économie politique (1842–1850); Essais de politique industrielle (1843); De la baisse probable d’or (1859, translated into English by Cobden, On the Probable Fall of the Value of Gold, Manchester, 1859); L’Expédition du Mexique (1862); Introduction aux rapports du jury international (1868).