Rene Goblet - Encyclopedia

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RENE GOBLET (1828-1905), French politician, was born at Aire-sur-la-Lys, in the Pas de Calais, on the 26th of November 1828, and was educated for the law. Under the Second Empire, he helped to found a Liberal journal, Le Progres de la Somme, and in July 1871 was sent by the department of the Somme to the National Assembly, where he took his place on the extreme left. He failed to secure election in 1876, but next year was returned for Amiens. He held a minor government office in 1879, and in 1882 became minister of the interior in the Freycinet cabinet. He was minister of education, fine arts and religion in Henri Brisson's first cabinet in 1885, and again under Freycinet in 1886, when he greatly increased his reputation by an able defence of the government's education proposals. Meanwhile his extreme independence and excessive candour had alienated him from many of his party, and all through his life he was frequently in conflict with his political associates, from Gambetta downwards. On the fall of the Freycinet cabinet in December he formed a cabinet in which he reserved for himself the portfolios of the interior and of religion. The Goblet cabinet was unpopular from the outset, and it was with difficulty that anybody could be found to accept the ministry of foreign affairs, which was finally given to M. Flourens. Then came what is known as the Schnaebele incident, the arrest on the German frontier of a French official named Schnaebele, which caused immense excitement in France. For some days Goblet took no definite decision, but left Flourens, who stood for peace, to fight it out with General Boulanger, then minister of war, who was for the despatch of an ultimatum. Although he finally intervened on the side of Flourens, and peace was preserved, his weakness in face of the Boulangist propaganda became a national danger. Defeated on the budget in May 1887, his government resigned; but he returned to office next year as foreign minister in the radical administration of Charles Floquet. He was defeated at the polls by a Boulangist candidate in 1889, and sat in the senate from 1891 to 1893, when he returned to the popular chamber. In association with MM. E. Lockroy, Ferdinand Sarrien and P. L. Peytral he drew up a republican programme which they put forward in the Petite Republique francaise. At the elections of 1898 he was defeated, and thenceforward took little part in public affairs. He died in Paris on the 13th of September 1905.

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