Waldeck-Rousseau, René

Waldeck-Rousseau, René

(rənā` väldĕk`-ro͞osō`), 1846–1904, French statesman. Belonging to the republican left, he was twice minister of the interior (1881, 1883–85), and in 1884 he was responsible for the passage of the Waldeck-Rousseau law, legalizing the creation of trade unions. In 1893 he was defense counsel for A. Gustave EiffelEiffel, Alexandre Gustave
, 1832–1923, French engineer. A noted constructor of bridges and viaducts, he also designed the Eiffel Tower and the internal structure of the Statue of Liberty (see Liberty, Statue of.
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 in the Panama Canal scandal trial. President Émile LoubetLoubet, Émile François
, 1838–1929, president of the French republic (1899–1906). As a member of the chamber of deputies, he advocated secular education. After serving (1887–88) as minister of public works he became premier in 1892.
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 appointed him to head a cabinet in 1899, at the height of the Dreyfus AffairDreyfus Affair
, the controversy that occurred with the treason conviction (1894) of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus (1859–1935), a French artillery officer and graduate of the French military academy.
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, and he succeeded in securing a presidential pardon for Dreyfus. Although Waldeck-Rousseau himself advocated moderate measures, the repressive anticlerical legislation that grew out of the affair began during his ministry. His Associations Law (1901) virtually abolished the right of free association of religious orders, and thousands of monks and nuns went into exile. Waldeck-Rousseau resigned (1902) because of failing health and was succeeded by Émile CombesCombes, Émile
, 1835–1921, French statesman. An able politician of the left democratic group, he was minister of education under Léon Bourgeois (1895–96) and, succeeding René Waldeck-Rousseau, was (1902–5) premier and minister of interior
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.
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