By M.E. Schmidt

In 1878 Alexandre Ribot assumed his position on the left-center of the French Chamber of Deputies. From right here he all started a lifelong attempt to set up a average republic dependent upon his notion of liberal political values. The time appeared propitious to instill lofty objective into French political existence, for his access into the Chamber coincided with the consolidation of the republican regime following the trouble of sixteen might. however the first wave of republican anti-clericalism printed the fragility of Ribot's hopes. throughout the subsequent 40 years, successive dramatic levels in republican background - Boulangism, the Dreyfus Affair, separa­ tion of church and kingdom, the emergence of socialism, and eventually, the calls for of wartime management - may try out Ribot's method of political values. Adaptive and resilient, he sophisticated his definition of liberalism according to political swap and the cost that his plea for liberty and toleration had turn into as a substitute sanctuary for a privileged classification in French society.

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Since nothing in his background prepared him for this role, his competence is another example of his facile mastery of material. Because of parliamentary control of the purse strings, the financial expertise opened Ribot's path to important questions of foreign policy confronting France early in the 1880'S. In response to the debacle of 1870-1871 and the subsequent Bismarckian diplomatic domination of the continent, France found partial compensation for her lost prestige in overseas expansion. This program was associated particularly with Jules Ferry in his second ministry, 1883-1885.

Naturally as the conflict dragged on into 1884, Ribot's doubts about the costly venture increased. But he refused to take any initiative. Despite pressure from Leon Say and Georges Patinot, his director at the Journal des Dlbats, Ribot, in November 1884, again supported funds for the Tonkin war. 3S Only the apparent disaster at Langson coupled with yet another request for money led Ribot to yield to the siren song of the Dlbats. He intervened in debate along with Clemenceau to humiliate Ferry and overthrow his cabinet in March 1885.

Ribot to Mme Ribot, personal letter, 25 April 1884, Ribot MSS. POLITICS AS A PROFESSION, 1878-1889 Protestant faith. Gradually, however, he moved closer to belief, acquiring a Catholic edition of Imitation oj Christ which became a spiritual guide for the remainder of his life. His colleagues saw an austere, aloof personality. The rest was carefully hidden from them. "58 While awaiting a chance to re-enter political life, Ribot returned to teaching at the Ecole libre des sciencespolitiques and even considered reopening his law practice to help pass ~he time.

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