Théophile Delcassé


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Delcassé, Théophile

 

Born Mar. 1, 1852, in Pamiers; died Feb. 22, 1923, in Nice. French statesman and diplomat.

In 1889, Delcassé was elected to the Chamber of Deputies, where he advanced because of his speeches on foreign policy. From May 30, 1894, through Jan. 13, 1895, Delcassé was minister of colonies, and he was active in broadening French colonial expansion in Africa. From 1898 through 1905 he was minister of foreign affairs. A master of secret diplomacy, Delcassé, in defending the interests of French imperialism, strove to expand the French colonial empire (in particular, the seizure of Morocco) without losing sight of an encounter with Germany, which he felt was unavoidable. With these goals in mind, Delcassé attempted to strengthen the Franco-Russian alliance and expand France’s political ties with Great Britain and, partially, with Italy. Delcassé actively facilitated the conclusion of the Anglo-French agreement of 1904, as well as agreements of 1900 and 1902 with Italy, which in fact detached Italy from the Triple Alliance. At the time of the first Moroccan crisis, Delcassé, an advocate of a hard line with regard to Germany, was compelled to resign (June 1905). From 1911 to the beginning of 1913, Delcassé was maritime minister, but he continued to exert an influence on the foreign policy of France, and in 1912 he signed a Russo-French maritime convention. In 1913, in order to strengthen the Franco-Russian alliance, Delcassé was sent as ambassador to St. Petersburg. At the beginning of World War I, Delcassé was appointed minister of foreign affairs,, but because of differences with members of the British government over general questions of how the war should be conducted he resigned in October 1915 and subsequently played no active political role.

A. Z. MANFRED