Ollivier - 19th Century Encyclopedia Entries

Nordisk Familjebok 1876-1899, Meyer 1885-1892

Nordisk Familjebok 1876-1899, Article : Ollivier (1888)
Ollivier, Emile, French statesman, born in 1825, son to Demosthene Ollivier, a convinced republican, was member of the French National Assembly in 1848-1849, was banished after the coup d'etat in 1851. In 1847 Emile Ollivier became advocate in Paris. He began his political career immediately after the February Revolution 1848, when he, by the influence of Ledru Rollins, was named the commissioner of the French Republic in the Departements Bouches-du-Rhone and Var. Half a year later, Ollivier was appointed prefect of the Departement Haute-Marne by Cavaignac, but he had to go, when Prince Louis Napoleon became president. Ollivier returned to his occupation as an advocate, and soon was famous for his knowledge and eloquence. In the general elections of 1857 he was elected into the Legislative Body, where he belonged to the small republican group (the five), which in the following years formed the "irreconcilable" parliamentary opposition to the Empire. Reelected in 1863, Ollivier established a connection with the Duke of Morny and gradually moved closer to Napoleon III. When the Emperor, on January 19th 1867, promised various Liberal reforms, Ollivier openly broke with his former Republican friends, and became the foremost protagonist of a reconciliation of the Liberal Party with the Empire. In the publication "Le 19 janvier" (1869) he tried to prove the possibility of the transformation of the hitherto dictatorial Empire to a constitutional and parlamentarian government. In the general elections a few months later, only with the aid of the government he succeeded in getting reelected into the Legislative Body. As the leader of the new Liberal Central Party (le tiers-parti) within the latter, Ollivier was charged by Napoleon III. on December 27th 1869 to form a cabinet. In this cabinet, which was formed on January 2nd 1870, Ollivier himself became minister of justice and president of the council of ministers.He now had to fight both the extreme left and the extreme right. But despite the eloquence and violence of his opponents, in the beginning he gained several successes. During the unrest in Paris after the murder of Prince Pierre Bonaparte by publicist Victor Noir, Ollivier maintained law and order in the capital without bloodshed. Ledru Rollin was granted amnesty. The unpopular prefect of the Departement of the Seine, Haussmann, was dismissed. Several reforms in regard to administration and jurisdiction were passed. A proposal prepared by Ollivier for the amendment of the constitution in a Liberal sense, which among others introduced full responsibility of the ministers, was accepted by the Senate on March 28th and sanctioned by a general plebiscite on May 8th, with a large majority (7.3 million yes versus 1.58 million no). But this magnificent progress in domestic policy was followed by terrible setbacks in foreign policy. Ollivier was regarded a friend of peace, and still on June 30th 1870 in front of the Legislative Body he said : "Never has the maintenance of peace been more certain secured than now !" But at the same time he was so weak and irresponsible to support in front of the Legislative Body, and to defend against the experienced Thiers, the brazen policy of Empress Eugenie and others of the War Party, which in the middle of July lead to the sudden, calamitous declaration of war against Prussia. "From this day for the ministers, my fellow brothers, and for me begins a great task; we take it upon us with a light heart", Ollivier said from the chair of the speaker in the Legislative Body on July 15th 1870. These presumptuous words crushingly fell back on him, as already at the beginning of August one defeat followed the next. According to an agenda accepted by the Legislative Body on the proposal of Clement Duvernois on August 9th, which contained [the statement] that the government was incapable of organizing the defense of the country, the cabinet had to resign. Now generally despised, Ollivier withdrew to Italy. From there he returned to France late in 1872. During the general elections in 1876 and 1877 ran as a candidate for the Chamber of Deputees, but without success. Ollivier has published a lot, and in 1870 (after Lamartine) was elected into the Academie Française. Except for juridical publications and a number of articles in juridical magazines, he has published "Democratie et liberte" (1867), "Une visite a la chapelle des Medicis" (1872), "Lamartine" (1874), "Principes et conduite" (1875), "Le ministere du 2 janvier, mes discours" (1875), "L'eglise et l'etat au concile du Vatican" (1879), "M. Thiers a l'academie et dans l'histoire" (1873).
source in Swedish, posted by Project Runeberg

Meyer's Konversationslexikon 1885-1892, Article : Ollivier
Ollivier, Olivier Emile, French statesman, son of Demosthenes Ollivier, who, chef of an important trading house in Marseille, as a devout Democrat, after the coup d'etat of December 2nd 1851, in order to avoid deportation, fled to Florence and only returned to France in 1860; born on July 2nd 1825 in Marseille, studied law in Paris, had just become advocat there, when Ledru-Rollin in 1848 sent him to Marseille as commissioner of the republic. Cavaignac appointed him prefect there, and then in Chaumont; but Ollivier in January 1849 returned to his profession as advocat, and gained a reputation by eloquently guiding several trials. Since 1857 member of the Legislative Body, he became the most eloquent and popular speaker in the small group of the Five, which made up the entire opposition. But Ollivier did not systematically oppose the government, rather in 1864 as presenter of a report on the so-called coalition law he showed such an agreement with the ideas of the government, that his former political friends separated from him. He also approved of the Emperor's policy in the Italian and in the German question, and on March 15th 1867 even defended Germany's unification. In 1865 the Viceroy of Egypt appointed him his juridical counselor, a position which came with a good salary. So Ollivier ceased to function as an advocate. When the reelections of 1869 came closer, he wrote a pamphlet about Napoleon III.'s liberal letter of January 19th 1867 ("Le 19 janvier"), in which he discussed he possibility of a constitutional Empire, in the Legislative Body he became the pillar of a new government party of moderate liberal character, and on January 2nd 1870 he formed a constitutional cabinet, in which he took the portfolio of justice and the leadership, namely the representation of the cabinet in front of the chambers. Ollivier honestly believed in the implementability of the task he was charged with, to reconciliate the Liberal parties with Bonapartism, and to establish a truly constitutional, strictly legitimate government. But his pedantic vanity utterly blinded him, bereaved him of clear insight in true conditions, so that he did not notice that he only was a tool in the hands of the Bonapartist court camarilla. The plebiscite which only had been calculated to bring back absolutist Imperialism he not only permitted, but pushed for its acceptance with all means of Bonapartism, which only were out to falsify public opinion, and he celebrated the acceptance as a great victory. Compromised among all Liberals, flattered by the fcompliments of the court camarilla, he permitted himself to be used to influence the chambers and public opinion for a war with Prussia. While he still on June 29th had stressed that peace never had been more secure, and on July 12th he had declared that war had been avoided by the abjuration of any claim to the [Spanish] throne by the Prince of Hohenzollern, on July 15th he helped to mislead the Legislative Body by the well-known declaration, and "with a light heart" he took on the responsibility for his action. He believed an easy victory to be certain and believed, that the newly confirmed dynasty could and would better realize the completion of his work, the liberal constitution and government. The first defeats of the French army on August 9th caused the fall of his cabinet. First he withdrew to Italy, and now he lives in Marseille, occupying himself with scientific studies. Ollivier only in 1879 appeared again in the public, when the institute, to which he belongs since 1870, charged him to respond to Henri Martin's speech praising Thiers, and he handed in a draft, in which he sharly and unjustifiedly criticized Thiers' actions of 1870, which therefore was rejected. He also wrote : "Une visite a la chapelle de Medicis; dialogue entre Michel-Ange et Raphael" (1872); "Lamartine" (1874); "Principes et conduite" (1875); "L'eglise et l'etat au concile du Vatican" (1879, 2 vols.); "Thiers a l'Academie et dans l'histoire" (1879); "Nouveau manuel de droit ecclesiastique français" (1885).
source in German, posted by Retro Bibliothek

DOCUMENTS Article Olivier Emile Ollivier, from EB 1911

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First posted on June 18th 2009

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