1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ferry, Jules François Camille

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FERRY, JULES FRANÇOIS CAMILLE (1832-1893), French statesman, was born at Saint Dié (Vosges) on the 5th of April 1832. He studied law, and was called to the bar at Paris, but soon went into politics, contributing to various newspapers, particularly to the Temps. He attacked the Empire with great violence, directing his opposition especially against Baron Haussmann, prefect of the Seine. Elected republican deputy for Paris in 1869, he protested against the declaration of war with Germany, and on the 6th of September 1870 was appointed prefect of the Seine by the government of national defence. In this position he had the difficult task of administering Paris during the siege, and after the Commune was obliged to resign (5th of June 1871). From 1872-1873 he was sent by Thiers as minister to Athens, but returned to the chamber as deputy for the Vosges, and became one of the leaders of the republican party. When the first republican ministry was formed under W.H. Waddington on the 4th of February 1879, he was one of its members, and continued in the ministry until the 30th of March 1885, except for two short interruptions (from the 10th of November 1881 to the 30th of January 1882, and from the 29th of July 1882 to the 21st of February 1883), first as minister of education and then as minister of foreign affairs. He was twice premier (1880-1881 and 1883-1885). Two important works are associated with his administration, the non-clerical organization of public education, and the beginning of the colonial expansion of France. Following the republican programme he proposed to destroy the influence of the clergy in the university. He reorganized the committee of public education (law of the 27th of February 1880), and proposed a regulation for the conferring of university degrees, which, though rejected, aroused violent polemics because the 7th article took away from the unauthorized religious orders the right to teach. He finally succeeded in passing the great law of the 28th of March 1882, which made primary education in France free, non-clerical and obligatory. In higher education the number of professors doubled under his ministry. After the military defeat of France by Germany in 1870, he formed the idea of acquiring a great colonial empire, not to colonize it, but for the sake of economic exploitation. He directed the negotiations which led to the establishment of a French protectorate in Tunis (1881), prepared the treaty of the 17th of December 1885 for the occupation of Madagascar; directed the exploration of the Congo and of the Niger region; and above all he organized the conquest of Indo-China. The excitement caused at Paris by an unimportant reverse of the French troops at Lang-son caused his downfall (30th of March 1885), but the treaty of peace with China (9th of June 1885) was his work. He still remained an influential member of the moderate republican party, and directed the opposition to General Boulanger. After the resignation of President Grévy (2nd of December 1887), he was a candidate for the presidency of the republic, but the radicals refused to support him, and he withdrew in favour of Sadi Carnot. The violent polemics aroused against him at this time caused a madman to attack him with a revolver, and he died from the wound, on the 17th of March 1893. The chamber of deputies voted him a state funeral.

See Edg. Zevort, Histoire de la troisième République; A. Rambaud, Jules Ferry (Paris, 1903).