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Ferry, Jules

Subject History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405189224.2011.x


(1832–93), French politician. He is best remembered for promoting empire (see imperialism ) and for undermining the role of the church within primary schooling (see catholicism ; education ). A lawyer by training, he turned to republican politics and was a fierce opponent of napoleon iii's Second Empire. In 1870, he was appointed prefect of the Seine at the time of the paris commune , where he made plain his dislike of the far left. With the founding of the third republic , he found it expedient to step out of the limelight, though he was elected deputy for the Vosges in 1873. In parliament, he became one of the leaders of the so-called Opportunists, a moderate group of republicans. Influenced by a faith in science and reason (see also positivism ), and committed to promoting economic wellbeing, they were nonetheless cautious about advocating reform until the moment was “opportune.” In the 1880s this grouping dominated parliament, and Ferry was minister of public instruction three times (1879–81, 1882, and 1883), prime minister twice (1880–1, and 1883–5), and minister of foreign affairs (1883–5), before becoming president of the senate in 1893. To promote his vision of a modernized France, he aimed to curtail the church's influence over schooling. Thus in 1882 he sponsored the measures known as the Lois Ferry, banning religious instruction in state schools and making primary ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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