LEBEAU, JOSEPH (1794-1865), Belgian statesman, was born at Huy on the 3rd of January 1794. He received his early education from an uncle who was parish priest of Hannut, and became a clerk. By dint of economy he raised money to study law at Liege, and was called to the bar in 1819. At Liege he formed a fast friendship with Charles Rogier and Paul Devaux, in conjunction with whom he founded at Liege in 1824 the Mathieu Laensbergh, afterwards Le politique, a journal which helped to unite the Catholic party with the Liberals in their opposition to the ministry, without manifesting any open disaffection to the Dutch government. Lebeau had not contemplated the separation of Holland and Belgium, but his hand was forced by the revolution. He was sent by his native district to the National Congress, and became minister of foreign affairs in March 1831 during the interim regency of Surlet de Chokier. By proposing the election of Leopold of Saxe-Coburg as king of the Belgians he secured a benevolent attitude on the part of Great Britain , but the restoration to Holland of part of the duchies of Limburg and Luxemburg provoked a heated opposition to the treaty of London, and Lebeau was accused of treachery to Belgian interests. He resigned the direction of foreign affairs on the accession of King Leopold, but in the next year became minister of justice. He was elected deputy for Brussels in 1833, and retained his seat until 1848. Differences with the king led to his retirement in 1834. He was subsequently governor of the province of Namur (1838), ambassador to the Frankfort diet (1839), and in 1840 he formed a short-lived Liberal ministry. From this time he held no office of state, though he continued his energetic support of liberal and anti-clerical measures. He died at Huy on the 19th of March 1865.
Lebeau published La Belgigue depuis 1847 (Brussels, 4 vols., 1852), Lettres aux electeurs beiges (8 vols., Brussels, 1853-1856). His Souvenirs personnels et correspondance diplomatique 1824-1841 (Brussels, 1883) were edited by A. Prison. See an article by A. Freson in the Biographie nationale de Belgigue; and T. Juste, Joseph Lebeau (Brussels, 1865).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)