The World at War


Vincent Auriol

French Statesman

Born: August 27, 1884 at Revel, Haute-Garonne
Died: January 1, 1966

President of the Republic 1947 - 1954

     Auriol began his career as a lawyer in Toulouse. He was a charter member of the Socialist Party SFIO and co-founder of Le Midi Socialiste newpaper in 1908. He entered electoral politics in 1914 and won a seat in the Chamber as deputy from Muret. A year later he was elected Mayor of Toulouse.

     Auriol rose to prominence as the Socialists' spokesman on financial affairs, served as chairman of the Chamber's finance committee 1924-26 and Minister of Finance in the Popular Front government of Leon Blum.

     His 30% devaluation of the franc against the dollar in September 1936 spurred capital flight and economic uncertainty that contributed to Blum's downfall in the spring of 1937. Auriol remained in government as Garde des Sceaux (keeper of the seals) in the cabinet of Camille Chautemps and Minister of State in Blum's second ministry.

     He voted against granting power to Marshal Petain in 1940. Vichy placed him under house arrest but Auriol escaped to the Maquis in 1942 and made his way to London. He represented the Socialists on the consultative assembly established by de Gaulle in Algiers in 1943, presided over the two constituent assemblies that drafted the constitution of the Fourth Republic and was elected President of the Republic by the National Assembly on January 16, 1947.

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