Leon Gambetta


October 28, 2021

Léon Gambetta, born April 2, 1838 in Cahors and died December 31, 1882 in Sèvres, is a French statesman. Member of the government of National Defense in 1870 then leader of the opposition, he was one of the most important political figures of the first years of the Third Republic and played a key role in the sustainability of the republican regime in France after the fall. of the Second Empire. It was in particular he who, on September 4, 1870, proclaimed the return of the Republic. He was President of the Chamber of Deputies from 1879 to 1881, then President of the Council and Minister of Foreign Affairs for two months, between 1881 and 1882.


Origins and formation

Born April 2, 1838 in Cahors, Léon Michel Gambetta comes from a family of wealthy traders and his paternal grandfather Michel is from Liguria (Sardinian states of the mainland of the Kingdom of Sardinia, known as the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia) . He married Benedetta Galeano and ran a grocery store, the Genoese Bazaar. The grocery store is taken over and developed by his son Jean Baptiste, who marries a pharmacist's daughter, Marie-Magdelaine Massabie: they are the parents of Léon. Named "Jean Baptiste" at the time of his marriage to Marie Madeleine Massabie, it is under the first name of "Joseph Nicolas" that he declares the birth of "Leon Michel". Enrolled by his father at the minor seminary of Montfaucon a few days before the start of the 1848 school year, he was admitted on November 7 as an intern in the 7th year. Despite a turbulent behavior, his teachers noticed his qualities during the two years of schooling at Montfaucon: “Driving: dissipated. Application: poor. Character: very good, very light, playful, mischievous. Talent: remarkable, highly developed intelligence ”. During the school holidays of 1848, he suffered an accident while watching a worker-cutler at work, a shard of steel causing him to lose the use of his right eye. It will be successfully enucleated in 1867 by Doctor Louis de Wecker. He continued his studies at the lycée in Cahors and obtained the baccalaureate in letters. He then enrolled at the Faculty of Law in Paris in 1857. Having applied for and obtained his naturalization in 1859, he successfully graduated in 1860 and became a lawyer. He then frequents republican circles which meet in the Latin Quarter at the Voltaire café.

Opposing the Second Empire

As a young lawyer, he was accepted to the Molé Conference. He becomes the collaborator of Adolphe Crémieux and binds with Clément Laurier and Jules Ferry. He is also getting closer to opposition MPs: Jules Favre, Émile Ollivier, Ernest Picard, Alfred Darimon and Louis Hénon. He took part in the electoral campaign of 1863 and approved Thiers' speech on the “necessary freedoms”. He became a friend of Eugène Spuller and Arthur Ranc, frequented Allain-Targé and Challemel-Lacour and the salon of Juliette Adam, a republican opposition circle. In 1868, the trial of Charles Delescluze made him known. This republican journalist, opposing the Second Empire is indicted, along with other personalities (Alphonse Peyrat in particular), for having opened a public subscription in his newspaper in order to erect a monument in memory of Jean-Baptiste Baudin, deputy of the Second Republic, died December 3, 1851, opposing the workers' side to Napoleon III's coup d'état. Charged with the defense of Charles Delescluze, Gambetta delivers a political argument in which he criticizes the imperial regime and the coup d'état of December 2. Delescluze was sentenced to six months in prison and a fine of 2,000 francs, but the political impact of the speech made Gambetta a Republican hope.

Member of Parliament

During the legislative elections of 1869, Gambetta decided to run for the

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