THIERS, Louis ADOLPHE, French historian and statesman, was b. April 16, 1797, at Marseilles. His father is variously reported to have been a locksmith, a decayed cloth merchant, or an advocate at the parliament of Marseilles; his mother belonged to an' old commercial family which had fallen into poverty. He was placed by his relatives in the lyceum, where he achieved many victories over his young competitors. In 1815 he was sent to Aix to pursue the study of the law. Here he formed his friend ship with M. 3lignet the historian, in company with whom, as soon as he had taken his degree as advocate, he set off to Paris to seek his fortune. He lived for a time in obscurity and indigence, but, obtaining an introduction to Lafitte, he was enrolled among the contributors to the Constitutionnel, then the leading liberal organ. He became dis tinguished for the vigor and hardihood of his articles, and as in France the occupation of a journalist was at that time and for many years afterward regarded with an estima tion proportioned to its influence over society, the young political writer was admitted into the most brilliant circles of the opposition. In the crowded saloons of Lafitte, Casimir Perier, the comte de Flahault, the baron Louis (the great financier of tint era), and of M. de Talleyrand, he enjoyed an intercourse with actors in the grand revo lutionary drama, which was eminently useful to him in the great undertaking which he had long meditated. L' Histoire de la .1?1-eolutn Francala at once placed the briefless advocate and young political writer in the highest ranks of literary celebrity. Three editions were soon called for, and the profits upon the sale, and the gift of a share in the Cortstitutionnel, conferred upon him by an admirer, raised him to comparative affluence. Leaving his garret in the alley of Montesquieu he emerged Mto fame, and became one of the most prominent men of France in the two paramount fields of literature and politics. In Jan., 1830, he established a new paper of more democratic principles, the _National. Assisted by Armand Carrel and some of the ablest men of the liberal party, Thiers in this journal waged unrelenting war against the Polignac administration, which at length, stung beyond endurance, took the desperate measure of issuing the ordinances of July. The revolution of 1830 was the result. Thiers now devoted himself to a public career, and was appointed secretary-general to the minister of finance and elected deputy for the town of Aix. His first appearance in the chamber of deputies gave no promise of his subsequent distinction. His diminutive person, his small face, encum bered with a pair of huge spectacles, and his whole exterior presenting something of the ludicrous, the new deputy, full of the impassioned eloquence of the revolutionary ora tors, attempted to impart the thrilling emotions recorded of 11Iirabeau. The attempt provoked derision, but soon subsiding into the oratory natural to him—simple, easy, vigorous, rapid, anecdotic—he became one of the most formidable of parliamentary champions. From 1832, when the Soult cabinet was constructed, he continued a min ister, with one short interval, until 1836. He was by turns minister of the interior, minister of commerce and public works, and minister for foreign affairs under various chiefs—Soult, Gerard, Mortier, and Broglie. In Feb., 1836, he was nominated presi dent of the council and foreign minister by Louis Philippe. He only held this office until Aug., 1836, when he passed into opposition. In 1840 he was again called by the king to the premiership. He refused lord Palmerston's invitation to enter into an alliance with England, Austria, and Prussia for the preservation of the integrity of the Ottoman empire, from some lingering sympathy with the principles which dictated the first Napoleon's invasion of Egypt and Syria, and a desire to accomplish by diplomatic rela tions with Mehemet All that which Bonaparte had sought to effect by force of arms— a controlling power on the part of France in Syrian and Egyptian affairs. Lord Palm
erston entered into the treaty without France, Acre was taken by the English fleet, and Mehemet Ali was driven out of Syria. The popular irritation in France fostered by Thiers was excessive, and nothing but the peaceful character of Louis Philippe pre vented the French nation from rushing into a war of defiance to all the powers of Europe. Thiers alarmed the continent by his threats of setting aside the treaties of 1815 and extending the French frontier to the Rhine. It was computed that he spent not less than £8,000,000 in military and naval demonstrations. The effect of the ill blood thus generated was felt shortly afterward in the seizure of the Society islands, and in the remonstrances which the British government saw reason to address to that of France respecting the ill treatment of Mr. Pritchard, their consul at Tahiti. Louis Philippe dismissed his bellicose prime minister, and Europe again tasted the sweets of repose. He employed his leisure in historical pursuits. His Histoire du Consulctt et de l'Empire, begun in 1845 and completed in 1860, is one of the greatest historical works of the age. At the revolution of 1848 lie accepted the republic, but was banished after the coup d'etat of 1851 (see Louis NAPOLEON). After a short residence in Switzerland he was permitted to return to Paris, where he published a continuation of his History. He re-entered the chamber in 1863, having been elected deputy for the department of the Seine by the liberal opposition. In his speeches Thiers constantly taunted the empire with the loss of foreign prestige; and these taunts are not to be left out of record when the disastrous war of 1870 is to be rightly accounted for. When that conflict became inevitable, he predicted the certain defeat to France it would lead to. The early disasters of the war brought him into a particularly prominent position. , It was Thiers who suggested the laying waste of the country around Paris. He declined to become a member of the gov ernment of national defense, formed on the downfall of the empire; but voluntarily undertook diplomatic journeys to England, Russia, Austria, and Italy, on behalf of France—a self-imposed mission in which he was unsuccessful, but by which he acquired the unfeigned gratitude of his countrymen. According to the suggestions of these four neutral powers, Thiers opened negotiations for peace with the king of Prussia at Ver sailles, which, however, were for the time unavailing. After the capitulation of Paris Thiers was elected to the national assembly by the vote of a third of the French nation, and was chosen by the assembly to be head of the provisional government. Owing to bls good sense the French accepted the terms of peace offered by Prussia. In 1871, after having crushed the commune and restored order, he ceased to be " chief of the executive power" of France to become "president of the French republic;" and this office he held till May, 1873, when, failing in his effort to make the republic permanent by definitive legislation, he made way for marshal MacMahon. His death (Sept. 5, 1877) was a severe blow to the republicans of France, whose leaders had latterly come to regard Thiers, though a "conservative republican," as head of the whole republican party, Thiers had been a member of the Acad.intie Francause since 1836.