Jean Jaurès

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Jean Jaurès
Jean Jaures, 1904, by Nadar.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Tarn department
In office
1 June 1902 (1902-06-01) 31 July 1914 (1914-07-31)
(12 years, 1 month and 30 days)
In office
8 January 1893 (1893-01-08) 1 June 1898 (1898-06-01)
(5 years, 4 months and 24 days)
Preceded byJérôme Ludovic de Solages
Succeeded byJérôme Ludovic de Solages
In office
10 November 1885 (1885-11-10) 11 November 1889 (1889-11-11)
(4 years and 1 day)
Editor of L'Humanité
In office
18 April 1904 (1904-04-18) 31 July 1914 (1914-07-31)
(10 years, 3 months and 13 days)
Preceded byNone (was founder)
Succeeded by Pierre Renaudel
President of French Socialist Party
In office
Personal details
Auguste Marie Joseph Jean Léon Jaurès

(1859-09-03)3 September 1859
Castres, Tarn, Second French Empire
Died31 July 1914(1914-07-31) (aged 54)
Paris, French Third Republic
Cause of deathAssassinated
Resting place Panthéon
Nationality French
Political party Moderate Republicans

Independent Socialists
French Socialist Party

French Section of the Workers' International
Spouse(s)Louise Bois
ChildrenMadeleine Jaurès, Louis Paul Jaurès
FatherJules Jaurès
Alma mater École Normale Supérieure
Profession Professor, journalist

Auguste Marie Joseph Jean Léon Jaurès, commonly referred to as Jean Jaurès (French:  [ʒɑ̃ ʒɔ.ʁɛːs] ; 3 September 1859 31 July 1914), was a French Socialist leader. Initially a moderate republican, he was later one of the first social democrats, becoming the leader, in 1902, of the French Socialist Party, which opposed Jules Guesde's revolutionary Socialist Party of France. The two parties merged in 1905 in the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO). An antimilitarist, Jaurès was assassinated at the outbreak of World War I, and remains one of the main historical figures of the French Left.

Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership of the means of production and workers' self-management, as well as the political theories and movements associated with them. Social ownership can be public, collective or cooperative ownership, or citizen ownership of equity. There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them, with social ownership being the common element shared by its various forms.

Moderate Republicans (France) parliamentary group in the French Second Republic

The Moderate Republicans were a large political group active from the birth of the French Second Republic (1848) to the collapse of the Second French Empire (1870).

The French Socialist Party was a socialist political party founded in 1902.


Early career

The son of an unsuccessful businessman and farmer, Jean Jaurès was born in Castres (Tarn), into a modest French provincial haut-bourgeois family. His younger brother, Louis became an admiral and a Republican-Socialist deputy.

Castres Subprefecture and commune in Occitanie, France

Castres is a commune, and arrondissement capital in the Tarn department and Occitanie region in southern France. It lies in the former French province of Languedoc.

Tarn (department) Department of France

Tarn is a French department located in the Occitanie region in the southwest of France named after the Tarn river. Its prefecture and largest city is Albi.

Louis Jaurès h admiral

Louis Jaurès was a French naval officer who rose to the rank of rear admiral during World War I. He was the brother of the statesman Jean Jaurès. After retirement he was elected a deputy in the National Assembly of France.

A brilliant student, Jaurès was educated at the Lycée Sainte-Barbe in Paris and admitted first at the École normale supérieure, in philosophy, in 1878, ahead of Henri Bergson. He obtained his agrégation of philosophy in 1881, ending up third, and then taught philosophy for two years at the Albi lycée before lecturing at the University of Toulouse. He was elected Republican deputy for the département of Tarn in 1885, sitting alongside the moderate Opportunist Republicans, opposed both to Georges Clemenceau's Radicals and to the Socialists. He then supported both Jules Ferry and Léon Gambetta.

Collège Sainte-Barbe secondary education in France

The Collège Sainte-Barbe is a former college in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, France.

An école normale supérieure or ENS is a type of publicly funded higher education institution in France. A portion of the student body, admitted via a highly-selective competitive examination process, are French civil servants and are known as normaliens. ENSes also offers master's degrees, and can be compared to "Institutes for Advanced Studies". They constitute the top level of research-training education in the French university system.

Philosophy Study of general and fundamental questions

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?


In 1889, after unsuccessfully contesting the Castres seat, this time under the banner of Socialism, he returned to his professional duties at Toulouse, where he took an active interest in municipal affairs and helped to found the medical faculty of the University. He also prepared two theses for his doctorate in philosophy, De primis socialismi germanici lineamentis apud Lutherum, Kant, Fichte et Hegel ("On the first delineations of German socialism in the writings of [Martin] Luther, [Immanuel] Kant, [Johann Gottlieb] Fichte and [Georg Wilhelm Friedrich] Hegel") (1891), and De la réalité du monde sensible.

Toulouse Prefecture and commune in Occitanie, France

Toulouse is the capital of the French department of Haute-Garonne and of the region of Occitanie. The city is on the banks of the River Garonne, 150 kilometres from the Mediterranean Sea, 230 km (143 mi) from the Atlantic Ocean and 680 km (420 mi) from Paris. It is the fourth-largest city in France, with 466,297 inhabitants as of January 2014. In France, Toulouse is called the "Pink City".

Martin Luther Saxon priest, monk and theologian, seminal figure in Protestant Reformation

Martin Luther, was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk, and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation.

Immanuel Kant Prussian philosopher

Immanuel Kant was an influential German philosopher in the Age of Enlightenment. In his doctrine of transcendental idealism, he argued that space, time, and causation are mere sensibilities; "things-in-themselves" exist, but their nature is unknowable. In his view, the mind shapes and structures experience, with all human experience sharing certain structural features. He drew a parallel to the Copernican revolution in his proposition that worldly objects can be intuited a priori ('beforehand'), and that intuition is therefore independent from objective reality. Kant believed that reason is the source of morality, and that aesthetics arise from a faculty of disinterested judgment. Kant's views continue to have a major influence on contemporary philosophy, especially the fields of epistemology, ethics, political theory, and post-modern aesthetics.

Jaurès became a highly influential historian of the French Revolution. Research in the archives in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris led him to the formulation of a theoretical marxist interpretation of the events. His book Histoire Socialiste (1900–03) shaped interpretation from Albert Mathiez (1874–1932), Albert Soboul (1914–1982) and Georges Lefebvre (1874–1959) that came to dominate teaching analysis in class-conflict terms well into the 1980s. Jaurès emphasized the central role the middle class played in the aristocratic Brumaire , as well as the emergence of the working class " sans-culottes " who espoused a political outlook and social philosophy that came to dominate revolutionary movements on the left. [1] [2]

French Revolution Revolution in France, 1789 to 1798

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.

Bibliothèque nationale de France National Library of France

The Bibliothèque nationale de France is the national library of France, located in Paris. It is the national repository of all that is published in France and also holds extensive historical collections.

Albert Mathiez

Albert Mathiez was a French historian, best known for his Marxist interpretation of the French Revolution. Mathiez emphasized class conflict. He argued that 1789 pitted the bourgeoisie against the aristocracy and then the Revolution pitted the bourgeoisie against the sans-culottes, who were a proletariat-in-the-making. Mathiez greatly influenced Georges Lefebvre and Albert Soboul in forming what came to be known as the orthodox Marxist interpretation of the Revolution. Mathiez admired Maximilien Robespierre, praised the Reign of Terror and did not extend complete sympathy to the struggle of the proletariat.

Rise to prominence

Jean Jaurès was initially a moderate republican, opposed to both Clemenceau's Radicalism and socialism. He developed into a socialist during the late 1880s.

In 1892 the miners of Carmaux went on strike over the dismissal of their leader, Jean Baptiste Calvignac. Jaurès's campaigning forced the government to intervene and require Calvignac's reinstatement. The following year, Jaurès was re-elected to the National Assembly as socialist deputy for Tarn, a seat he retained (apart from the four years 1898 to 1902) until his death.

Carmaux Commune in Occitanie, France

Carmaux is a commune in the Tarn department in southern France.

1893 French legislative election

The 1893 general election was held on 20 August and 3 September 1893.

1902 French legislative election

The 1902 general election was held on 27 April and 11 May 1902.

Defeated in the election of 1898 he spent four years without a legislative seat. His eloquent speeches nonetheless made him a force to be reckoned with as an intellectual champion of Socialism. He edited La Petite République , and was, along with Émile Zola , one of the most energetic defenders of Alfred Dreyfus (during the Dreyfus Affair that polarized the Right and Left), army officers, and an educated newspaper readership. He approved of Alexandre Millerand , and the socialist's inclusion in the René Waldeck-Rousseau cabinet, though this led to an irredeemable split with the more revolutionary section led by Jules Guesde forming the Independent Socialists Party. [3]

SFIO leadership

Jaures' Action socialiste
, 1899 Jaures - Action socialiste I.djvu
Jaurès' Action socialiste, 1899

In 1902 Jaurès was again returned as deputy for Albi. The independent socialists merged with Paul Brousse's "possibilist" (reformist) Federation of the Socialist Workers of France and Jean Allemane's Revolutionary Socialist Workers Party to form the French Socialist Party, of which Jaurès became the leader. They represented a social democratic stance, opposed to Jules Guesde's revolutionary Socialist Party of France.

During the Combes administration his influence secured the coherence of the Radical-Socialist coalition known as the Bloc des gauches , which enacted the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State. In 1904, he founded the socialist paper L'Humanité . [4] According to Geoffrey Kurtz, Jaures was "instrumental" in the reforms carried out by the administration, Emile Combes, "influencing the content of legislation and keeping the factions within the Bloc united." [5] Following the Amsterdam Congress of the Second International, the French socialist groups held a Congress at Rouen in March 1905, which resulted in a new consolidation, with the merger of Jaurès's French Socialist Party and Guesde's Socialist Party of France. The new party, headed by Jaurès and Guesde, ceased to co-operate with the Radical groups, and became known as the Parti Socialiste Unifié (PSU, Unified Socialist Party), pledged to advance a collectivist programme. All the socialist movements unified the same year in the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO).

On 1 May 1905 Jaurès visited a newly formed wine making cooperative in Maraussan. [6] He said the peasants had to unite instead of refusing to help each other. He told them to, "in the vat of the Republic, prepare the wine of the Social Revolution!". [7] As the revolt of the Languedoc winegrowers developed, on 11 June 1907 Jaurès filed a bill with Jules Guesde that proposed nationalization of the wine estates. [8] After troops had shot wine growing demonstrators later that month, Parliament renewed its confidence in the government. Jaurès's L'Humanité carried the headline, "The House acquits the mass killers of the Midi". [8]

In the general elections of 1906, Jaurès was again elected for the Tarn. His ability was now generally recognized, but the strength of the SFIO still had to reckon with radical Georges Clemenceau, who was able to appeal to his countrymen (in a notable speech in the spring of 1906) to rally to a Radical programme which had no socialist ideas in view, although Clemenceau was sensitive to the conditions of the working class. Clemenceau's image as a strong and practical leader considerably diminished socialist populism. In addition to daily journalistic activity, Jaurès published Les preuves; Affaire Dreyfus (1900); Action socialiste (1899); Études socialistes (1902), and, with other collaborators, Histoire socialiste (1901), etc.

In 1911 he travelled to Lisbon and Buenos Aires. He supported, albeit not without criticisms, the teaching of regional languages, such as Occitan, Basque and Breton, commonly known as "patois", thus opposing, on this issue, traditional Republican jacobinism. [9]


Jean Jaures Jean Jaures (1).jpg
Jean Jaurès

Jaurès was a committed antimilitarist who tried to use diplomatic means to prevent what became the First World War. In 1913, he opposed Émile Driant's Three-Year Service Law, which implemented a draft period, and tried to promote understanding between France and Germany. As conflict became imminent, he tried to organise general strikes in France and Germany in order to force the governments to back down and negotiate. This proved difficult, however, as many Frenchmen sought revenge ( revanche ) for their country's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War and the return of the lost Alsace-Lorraine territory. Then, in May 1914, with Jaurès intending to form an alliance with Joseph Caillaux for the labour movement, the Socialists won the General Election. They planned to take office and "press for a policy of European peace". Jaurès accused French President Raymond Poincaré of being "more Russian than Russia"; whereas Viviani complied.

In July 1914, he attended the Socialist Congress in Brussels where he struck up a constructive solidarity with German socialist party leader Hugo Haase. On the 20th of that month, Jaurès voted against a parliamentary subsidy for Poincaré's visit to St Petersburg; which he condemned as both dangerous and provocative. The Caillaux–Jaurès alliance were dedicated to defeating military objectives aimed toward precipitating war. France sent a mission, headed by Poincaré, to coordinate French and Russian responses. Always a pacifist, Jaurès rushed back to Paris to attempt an impossible reconciliation with the government. Russia had partially mobilized, which Germany took as an extreme provocation. [10]


On 31 July 1914, Jaurès was assassinated. At 9 pm, he went to dine at the Café du Croissant, 146, rue Montmartre. Forty minutes later, Raoul Villain, a 29-year-old French nationalist, walked up to the restaurant window and fired two shots into Jaurès' back. [11] He died five minutes later, at 9.45 pm. Jaurès had been due to attend an international conference on 9 August, in an attempt to dissuade the belligerent parties from going ahead with the war. [12] Villain also intended to murder Madame Caillaux with his two engraved pistols. [13] Tried after World War I and acquitted, he was later killed by Spanish Republicans in 1936.

Shock waves ran through the streets of Paris. One of the government's most charismatic and compelling orators had been assassinated. His opponent, Poincaré, sent his sympathies to his widow. Paris was on the brink of revolution: Jaurès had been partisan for a general strike, and had narrowly avoided sedition charges. One important consequence was that the cabinet postponed the arrest of socialist revolutionaries. Viviani reassured Britain of Belgian neutrality but "the gloves were off". Jaurès' murder brought matters one step closer to world war. It helped to destabilise the French government, whilst simultaneously breaking a link in the chain of international solidarity.[ clarification needed ] Speaking at Jaurès' funeral a few days later, the CGT leader, Leon Jouhaux, declared, "All working men... we take the field with the determination to drive back the aggressor." [14] As if in reverence to his memory, the Socialists in the Chamber agreed to suspend all sabotage activity in support of the Union Sacrée. Poincaré commented that, "In the memory of man, there had never been anything more beautiful in France." [15]

On 23 November 1924, his remains were transferred to the Panthéon. [16] [17]

The memorial to his assassination still exists. Jean Jaures Cafe Croissant.jpg
The memorial to his assassination still exists.

Political legacy

Jaurès and Caillaux believed, after the latter was cleared of the murder his wife had committed, that they could expose the President's secret deal with Russia. This would have led to a policy of détente with Germany, preventing war and the inevitable carnage from 1915. Russia had covertly subsidized Poincaré's election campaign. [18] Poincaré had therefore abandoned socialism for another party and warfare. Even if Germany intentionally condemned Belgium to occupation, they had already accused Russia of starting the conflict. [19]

In the centenary year of his assassination, politicians from all sides of the political spectrum paid tribute to him and claimed he would have supported them. François Hollande declared that "Jaurès, the man of socialism, is today the man of all of France" whilst in 2007 Nicolas Sarkozy declared that his party was Jaurès' successor. [20]

See also

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  1. James Friguglietti and Barry Rothaus, "A new view of Jean Jaures' Histoire Socialiste." Consortium on Revolutionary Europe 1750–1850: Selected Papers (1994), pp 254-261.
  2. James Friguglietti, "Albert Mathiez, an Historian at War." French Historical Studies (1972): 570–586 in JSTOR
  3. See the 26 November 1900 debate between Jules Guesde and Jaurès Archived 2006-11-16 at the Wayback Machine . (in French)
  4. Raphael Levy (January 1929). "The Daily Press in France". The Modern Language Journal. 13 (4). doi:10.1111/j.1540-4781.1929.tb01247.x. JSTOR   315897.
  5. Combes social reforms
  6. Vignerons coopérateurs de l'Hérault.
  7. Théobald 2014, p. 70.
  8. 1 2 Bon.
  9. Jean Jaurès, "L'éducation populaire et les "patois"", in La Dépêche , 15 August 1911
    "Méthode comparée", in Revue de l'Enseignement Primaire, 15 October 1911. On-line (in French)
  10. Luigi Albertini, Origins, III, pp. 94-95; McMeekin, p.324
  11. Tharoor, Ishan. "The other assassination that led up to World War I". Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  12. Robert Tombs (1996). "To The Sacred Union, 1914". France 1814–1914. London: Longman. p. 481. ISBN   978-0-582-49314-8.
  13. Berenson, The trials of Mme Caillaux, p.242
  14. Albertini, Origins, III, p. 225
  15. McMeekin, p.376
  16. "Le Panthéon (1924): Collection Bibliothèque de l'Assemblée nationale". National Assembly of France (in French). 2012. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
  17. Jaures murder
  18. Beatty (2012) states that "[T]he close January 17, 1913, vote in the Chamber... elevated Poincaré to the presidency... Rumored at the time, Russian subsidies to the Paris press were revealed in the 1920s by L'Humanité , the journal of the French Communist party, the Bolsheviks having supplied the editors with the tsarist documents. By 1912, the subsidies, administered by the French finance minister, M. Klotz, totaled more than two million francs a year. For this sum, Russia got favorable publicity for its railroad loan requests, for the presidential candidacy of Raymond Poincaré, and for his pro-Russian policies as premier and president.[footnote 76, details on p. 366] Always awkward, the Republic's alliance with tsarist autocracy became so close under Poincaré that a Toulouse paper could plausibly ask: 'Is France Republican or Cossack?'" (p. 234). Foornote 76 (p. 366) states "For details on reptile fund, see Sidney B. Fay, The Origins of the War, vol. 1 (New York: Macmillan, 1927), 270, n. 79. Also James William Long, "Russian Manipulation of the French Press, 1904-1906," Slavic Review 31, no. 2 (June 1972): 343-54. Berenson, The Trial of Madame Caillaux, 235-36."
  19. Luigi Albertini, Origins, III, pp. 94-95; McMeekin, p.324
  20. Sam Ball (31 July 2014). "France remembers murdered socialist hero Jean Jaurès". Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  21. Trains Al Stewart.
  22. Áine McGillicuddy, René Schickele and Alsace: Cultural Identity Between the Borders. Bern: Peter Lang 2010, page 110.


Further reading