The World at War


Gaston Doumergue

French Statesman

Born: August 11, 1863 at Aigues-Vives
Died: June 18, 1937 at Aigues-Vives

President of the Republic:June 13, 1924 - June 13, 1931
Premier of France:December 9, 1913 - June 2, 1914
February 9 - November 8, 1934

     Doumergue entered public service as a colonial administrator. He joined the Radical-Socialist Party and was elected to the Chamber of Deputies from Nimes in 1893.

     Doumergue entered government as Minister for Colonies 1895 - 1909. He was Minister of Commerce, of Labor and Industry and of Public Instruction in later cabinets, headed a mission to Russia in 1917 and was elected to the Senate after World War I.

     The National Assembly elected him to succeed Alexandre Millerand as President of the Republic in 1924 over Paul Painleve the candidate of the Left. Doumergue retired from public life at the end of his term in 1931.

     President Lebrun called upon him to form a Truce Government in the wake of the February 6, 1934 riots in the Place de la Concorde. Doumergue turned him down at first citing his advanced age but was finally cajoled into accepting by Pierre Laval. His All party government included seven former premiers, Marshal Petain and Laval.

     Doumergue managed to restore order in the streets but his deflationary monetary policy aggravated the economic crisis and his proposed constitutional reforms aroused alarm among democrats.

     Doumergue went to the Nation in a radio address. He called on the National Assembly to approve a series of financial decrees and then reconvene in Versailles to vote on constitutional reforms without prior debate. It proved his undoing. The politicians resented him for going over their heads and many suspected that his reforms might be intended further an anti-democratic agenda. He was forced to resign on November 9, 1934. The suspicions of his detractors were confirmed on the eve of his departure when Doumergue reviewed a parade of the Croix des Feu and other anti-parliamentary leagues from his balcony wearing their trademark Basque beret.

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