Théophile Delcassé (1 March 1852 – 22 February 1923) was a French statesman and foreign minister 1898-1905. He is best known for his hatred of Germany and efforts to secure alliances with Russia and Great Britain that became the Entente Cordiale. He belonged to Radical party and was a protege of Léon Gambetta.
Delcassé was born at Pamiers, in the Ariège département. He wrote articles on foreign affairs for the République Française and Paris, and in 1888 was elected conseiller général of his native département, standing as "un disciple fidèle de Léon Gambetta ." In the following year he entered the chamber as deputy for Foix.
Delcassé was appointed under-secretary for the colonies in the second Ribot cabinet (January to April 1893), and retained his post in the Dupuy cabinet till its fall in December 1893. It was largely owing to his efforts that the French colonial office was made a separate department with a minister at its head, and to this office he was appointed in the second Dupuy cabinet (May 1894 to January 1895). He gave a great impetus to French colonial enterprise, especially in West Africa, where he organized the newly acquired colony of Dahomey, and despatched the Liotard mission to the upper Ubangi. While in opposition, Delcassé devoted special attention to naval affairs, and in noted speeches he declared that the function of the French navy was to secure and develop colonial enterprise, deprecated all attempts to rival the British fleet, and advocated the construction of commerce destroyers as France's best reply to England.
On the formation of the second Brisson cabinet in June 1898 he succeeded Gabriel Hanotaux as Foreign Minister, and retained that post under the subsequent premierships of Dupuy, Waldeck-Rousseau, Combes and Rouvier. In 1898 Delcassé had to deal with the delicate situation caused by Captain Marchand's occupation of the town of Fashoda in the Sudan (the Fashoda Incident) for which, as he admitted in a speech in the chamber on 23 January 1899, he accepted full responsibility, since it arose directly out of the Liotard expedition; and in March 1899 he concluded an agreement with Britain by which the difficulty was finally adjusted, and France consolidated her vast colonial empire in North-West Africa. In the same year he acted as mediator (with main mediator being J. Cambon, French ambassador in Washington) between the United States of America and Spain, and brought the peace negotiations to a successful conclusion.
Delcassé was originally a moderate willing to find a compromise with Germany, but Berlin ignored his overtures, He then became very anti-German. Kaiser Wilhelm called him "The most dangerous man for Germany in France". Delcassé improved relations between France and Italy: at the same time, he adhered firmly to the alliance with Russia, and in August 1899 made a visit to Saint Petersburg, which he repeated in April 1901. In June 1900 he made an arrangement with Spain, fixing the long-disputed boundaries of the French and Spanish possessions in West Africa. Finally, in his greatest achievement, he concluded the Entente Cordiale with Great Britain, covering colonial and other questions which had long been a matter of dispute, especially concerning Egypt, Newfoundland and Morocco. Suspicion of the growing entente between France and England soon arose in Germany, and in 1905 German assertiveness was shown in a crisis which was forced on in the matter of French policy by Delcassé personally, a sore point with Germany. The situation became acute, and Germany forced Delcassé's resignation in early 1906.
In 1909 he was appointed chairman of a commission appointed to investigate the French navy. The report was drawn up on 24 May 1909 and concluded that the French navy was unprepared and the naval administration and organization were in disarray.Delcassé was appointed Minister of Marine on 2 March 1911 in the cabinet of Ernest Monis. Delcassé promulgated closer cooperation between the British and French fleets. This arrangement was an important factor in leading Britain to side with France against Germany when World War I started.
On 25 September 1911, as the battleship Liberté was moored in Toulon harbor, an accidental explosion in one of her forward ammunition magazines for the secondary guns destroyed the ship.210 men died and 136 were seriously injured. The captain, Louis Jaurès, was on leave at the time. After the explosion there was a debate in the Chamber of Deputies in which the honour of Jaurès and the responsibility for the use of unstable powder by the navy was questioned. Jaurès had to face a court martial, but was acquitted unanimously on 21 December 1911. Paul Painlevé, president of the navy committee, appointed a commission of inquiry after the explosion, which followed that of the battleship Iéna . Captain Antoine Schwerer was a member of the commission of inquiry and wrote a scathing "Report on Naval Powders" (1912). Delcassé ordered that all ammunition made before 1907 be replaced. The older ammunition was removed from the ships, and the remainder was steadily replaced with a new explosive containing the diphenylamine as a stabilizer. Continued efforts were made to improve the powders, and there were no more major disasters. It was not until 1914 that the "powder crisis" was fully resolved.
Delcassé retained his position in the cabinet of Joseph Caillaux. When that fell on 14 January 1912 Raymond Poincaré urged Delcassé to become Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Delcassé declined, but agree to remain Minister of the Navy in Poincaré's cabinet.
President Armand Fallières' term in office expired in January 1913, and Delcassé decided to leave the Ministry of Marine and run for the presidency. He did not succeed.After the election, which was won by Poincaré, a new cabinet was formed by Aristide Briand. Briand offered Delcassé the post of Minister of Marine or Minister of War in the new cabinet, but Delcassé declined. He would soon be appointed Ambassador to Russia, and then Minister of War. On 26 August 1914 after the Germans announced successes in the north and east, René Viviani announced the resignation of the cabinet. In the new cabinet, announced within an hour, Viviani retained his post. Delcassé was Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aristide Briand was Minister of Justice and Alexandre Millerand was Minister of War.
Delcassé finally retired in 1915.
The Entente Cordiale was a series of agreements signed on 8 April 1904 between the United Kingdom and the French Republic which saw a significant improvement in Anglo-French relations. Beyond the immediate concerns of colonial expansion addressed by the agreement, the signing of the Entente Cordiale marked the end of almost a thousand years of intermittent conflict between the two states and their predecessors, and replaced the modus vivendi that had existed since the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 with a more formal agreement. The Entente Cordiale was the culmination of the policy of Théophile Delcassé, France's foreign minister from 1898, who believed that a Franco-British understanding would give France some security against any German system of alliances in Western Europe. Credit for the success of the negotiation belongs chiefly to Paul Cambon, France's ambassador, and to the British foreign secretary Lord Lansdowne.
The First Moroccan Crisis was an international crisis between March 1905 and May 1906 over the status of Morocco. Germany wanted to challenge France's growing control over Morocco, aggravating France and the United Kingdom, but the crisis was resolved by the Algeciras Conference of 1906, a conference of mostly European countries that affirmed French control. The crisis worsened German relations with both France and the United Kingdom, and helped enhance the new Anglo-French Entente.
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The Fashoda Incident was the climax of imperial territorial disputes between Britain and France in East Africa, occurring in 1898. A French expedition to Fashoda on the White Nile river sought to gain control of the Upper Nile river basin and thereby exclude Britain from the Sudan. The French party and a British-Egyptian force met on friendly terms, but back in Europe, it became a war scare. The British held firm as both empires stood on the verge of war with heated rhetoric on both sides. Under heavy pressure, the French withdrew, ensuring Anglo-Egyptian control over the area. The status quo was recognised by an agreement between the two states acknowledging British control over Egypt, while France became the dominant power in Morocco. France had failed in its main goals.
Between the two governments there was a brief battle of wills, with the British insisting on immediate and unconditional French withdrawal from Fashoda. The French had to accept these terms, amounting to a public humiliation....Fashoda was long remembered in France as an example of British brutality and injustice.
The Triple Entente describes the informal understanding between the Russian Empire, the French Third Republic and Great Britain. It built upon the Franco-Russian Alliance of 1894, the Entente Cordiale of 1904 between Paris and London, and the Anglo-Russian Entente of 1907. It formed a powerful counterweight to the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. The Triple Entente, unlike the Triple Alliance or the Franco-Russian Alliance itself, was not an alliance of mutual defence.
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Kodok or Kothok, formerly known as Fashoda, is a town in the north-eastern South Sudanese state of Western Nile. Kodok is the capital of Shilluk country, formally known as the Shilluk Kingdom. Shilluk has been an independent kingdom for more than sixteen centuries. Fashoda is best known as the place where the British and French nearly went to war in 1898 in the Fashoda Incident.
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Admiral Antoine Schwerer was a French naval officer. He served in varied roles in many parts of the world, and published a number of technical papers. He rose through the ranks to become an admiral during World War I (1914–18). After retiring in 1924 he was involved with the right-wing and monarchist League of the Action Française. He was president of the League from 1930 to 1935.
Amédée Marie Joseph Paul Révoil was a French diplomat and administrator who represented France in Morocco (1896–1901), was Governor General of Algeria (1901–1903) and was French ambassador to Switzerland (1906) and Spain (1907–09). He is known for his role in moving towards a peaceful extension of French influence in Morocco.
France entered World War I when, after mobilizing on 1 August, its government declared war on Austria-Hungary on 11 August 1914.
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