The World at War


Paul Painleve

French Mathematician and Statesman

Born: December 5, 1863 at Paris
Died: October 29, 1933 at Paris

Premier of France: September 12 - November 13, 1917
April 17 - November 22, 1925 (2nd & 3rd cabinets)

     A distinguished mathematician; professor at the Sorbonne, the Polytechnique and the University of Lille, Painleve was elected to the Academy of Sciences in 1900. He developed an interest in aeronautics after making his first flight as Wilbur Wright's passenger in 1908. He developed a course in aircraft mechanics the following year.

     Painleve entered politics in 1906 when he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies from Paris. He held a number of key posts during the First World War including Minister of War and Premier. He made the decision to replace General Nivelle with Petain as commander of the Verdun salient and appointed Marshal Foch to represent France on the Supreme Allied Council before resigning in favor of Georges Clemenceau.

     Painleve led la ligue de la Republique from 1921 to '22 before joining the Cartel des gauches (the Left) . He lost the presidential election to Gaston Doumergue in 1924. The Cartel won control of the Chamber of Deputies that year but Senate conservatives had sufficient strength to deny Painleve a home at the Elysees.

     Painleve was appoint Premier for a second time in 1925 but was, like his predecessor Herriot, unable to secure passage of the Cartel's economic program.

     Minister of War once again from 1925 to '29 under Briand, Herriot and Poincare, he sponsored the legislation that brought about the construction of the Maginot Line. He inaugurated the Air Ministry in 1930 serving as its chief twice before retiring in 1932.

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