Louis Gerhard, Baron De Geer - Encyclopedia




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LOUIS GERHARD DE GEER, Baron (1818-1896), Swedish statesman and writer, was born on the 18th of July 1818 at Finsporg castle. He adopted the legal profession, and in 1855 became president of the Gdta Hofret, or lord justice of one of the Swedish supreme courts. From the 7th of April 1858 to the 3rd of June 1870 he was minister of justice. As a member of the Upper House he took part in all the Swedish Riksdags from 1851 onwards, though he seldom spoke. From 1867 to 1878 he was the member for Stockholm in the first chamber, and introduced and passed many useful reformatory statutes; but his greatest achievement, as a statesman, was the reform of the Swedish representative system, whereby he substituted a bi-cameral elective parliament, on modern lines, for the existing cumbersome representation by estates, a survival from the later middle ages. This great measure was accepted by the Riksdag in December 1865, and received the royal sanction on the 22nd of June 1866. For some time after this De Geer was the most popular man in Sweden. He retired from the ministry in 1870, but took office again, as minister of justice, in 1875. In 1876 he became minister of state, which position he retained till April 1880, when the failure of his repeated efforts to settle the armaments' question again induced him to resign. From 1881 to 1888 he was chancellor of the universities of Upsala and Lund. Besides several novels and aesthetic essays, De Geer has written a few political memoirs of supreme merit both as to style and matter, the most notable of which are: Minnesteckning lifter A. J. v. Hopken (Stockholm, 1881); Minnesteckning ofver Hans Jtirta (Stockholm, 1874); Minnesteckning ofver B. B. von Platen (Stockholm, 1886); and his own Minnen (Stockholm, 1892), an autobiography, invaluable as a historical document, in which the political experience and the matured judgments of a lifetime are recorded with singular clearness, sobriety and charm.

See Sveriges historic (Stockholm, 1881, &c.), vi.; Carl Gustaf Malmstrom, Historiska Studier (Stockholm, 1897). (R. N. B.)

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