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Carnot, Marie Francois Sadi

CARNOT, MARIE FRANCOIS SADI (1837-1894), fourth president of the third French Republic, son of L. Hippolyte Carnot, was born at Limoges on the 11th of August 1837. He was educated as a civil engineer, and after having highly distinguished himself at the Ecole Polytechnique and the Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées, obtained an appointment in the public service. His hereditary republicanism recommended him to the government of national defence, by which he was entrusted in 1870 with the task of organizing resistance in the departments of the Eure, Calvados and Seine Inférieure, and made prefect of the last named in January 1871. In the following month he was elected to the National Assembly by the department Côte d'Or. In August 1878 he was appointed secretary to the minister of public works. In September 1880 he became minister, and again in April 1885, passing almost immediately to the ministry of finance, which he held under both the Ferry and the Freycinet administrations until December 1886. When the Wilson scandals occasioned the downfall of Grévy in December 1887, Carnot's high character for integrity marked him out as a candidate for the presidency, and he obtained the support of Clémenceau and of all those who objected to the candidatures of men who have been more active in the political arena, so that he was elected by 616 votes out of 827. He assumed office at a critical period, when the republic was all but openly attacked by General Boulanger. President Carnot's ostensible part during this agitation was mainly confined to augmenting his popularity by well-timed appearances on public occasions, which gained credit for the presidency and the republic. When early in 1889, Boulanger was finally driven into exile, it fell to President Carnot's lot to appear at the head of the state on two occasions of especial interest, the celebration of the centenary of 1789 and the opening of the Paris Exhibition of that year. The perfect success of both was regarded, not unreasonably, as a popular ratification of the republic, and though continually harassed by the formation and dissolution of ephemeral ministries, by socialist outbreaks, and the beginnings of anti-Semitism, Carnot had but one serious crisis to surmount, the Panama scandals of 1892, which, if they greatly damaged the prestige of the state, increased the respect felt for its head, against whose integrity none could breathe a word. Carnot seemed to be arriving at the zenith of popularity, when on the 24th of June 1894, after delivering at a public banquet at Lyons a speech in which he appeared to imply that he nevertheless would not seek re-election, he was stabbed by an Italian anarchist named Caserio and expired almost immediately. The horror and grief excited by this tragedy were boundless, and the president was honoured with a splendid funeral in the Panthéon, Paris.

His son, François Carnot, was first elected deputy for the Cote d'Or in 1902.

See E. Zevort, Histoire de la Troisième République, tome iv., "La Présidence de Carnot" (Paris, 1901).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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