The World at War


Alexander Millerand

French Statesman

Born: February 10, 1859 at Paris
Died: April 7, 1943 at Versailles

President of the Republic:September 23, 1920 - June 11, 1924
Premier of France:January 20 - September 23, 1920

     Millerand entered politics as a protégé of Jean Jaures. He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1885 as a Socialist and edited the party paper Le Petit Republique. He joined Radical-Socialist Waldeck-Rousseau's "Republican Defense" cabinet in the midst of the Dreyfus Affair and accepted the post of Minister of Commerce and Industry by 1899.

     Millerand's independence led to his expulsion from the Socialist ranks in 1904.He was brought into the cabinet of another expelled Socialist, Aristide Briand, as Minister of Public Works from 1909 to '10. Millerand's break with the Left was completed when called out the army to suppress the 1909 railway strike. He served as Minister of War in conservative cabinets from 1912 to 1915.

     Millerand became Premier in 1920 following the resignation of Clemenceau. He played a prominent role in the selection of Paul Deschanel to thwart Clemenceau's presidential ambitions. Millerand was elected President of the Republic in September 1920 after Deschanel was forced to resign due to mental illness.

     Millerand sought to increase the power of the presidency through constitutional reform. As Head of State, Third Republic presidents were supposed to be above politics but Millerand sought to impose his views in political matters especially those concerning Franco-German relations.

     Herriot's Cartel des gauches refused to form a government while Millerand remained in office. He resigned after the Cartel's victory in the 1924 and returned to the Senate where he remained until 1940.

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