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Edouard Etienne Antoine Lockroy

M. Edouard Etienne Antoine Lockroy was essentially Parisian. He had been described as of that race of French troops who once stormed a city in silk stockings to the sound of violins. The son of Joseph Philippe Simon (1803-1891), an actor and dramatist who took the name of Lockroy, Edouard was born in Paris on the i8th of July 1838. He had begun by studying art, but in 1860 enlisted as a volunteer under Garibaldi. The next three years were spent in Syria as secretary to Ernest Rerun, and on his return to Paris he embarked in militant journalism against the second empire in the Figaro, the Diable quatre, and eventually in the Rappd, with which his name was thenceforward intimately connected. He commanded a battalion during the siege of Paris, and in February 1871 was elected deputy to the National Assembly where he sat on the extreme left and protested against the preliminaries of peace.

He had long been known in the political world mainly, as a journalist. M. Lockroy was for long an important member of Victor Hugo's circle, having married the widow of Charles Hugo in 1877, and it is added, "the Lockroys and Hugos formed one household." The journal to which he contributed, too, was edited by M. Vacquerie, whose brother married Victor Hugo's daughter; and in fact the paper itself passed as the organ of the great French poet.

On March 27, 1873, he was condemned to a month's imprisonment and a fine of 500 francs for an article, " La Liberation da Territoire." Daring his imprisonment M. Lockroy was elected representative for the department of Benches du Rhone by 55,830 votes. At the general election in February 1876 he was returned simultaneously for the 17th Arrondissement of Paris and for Aix, and was one of the 363 deputies who refused a vote of confidence in the Broglie Cabinet. In 1883 he acted with M. Floquet in carrying through his Exile Bill.

For the first ten years of his parliamentary life he voted consistently with the extreme left, ^ul then adopted a more opportunist policy, and gave his unreserved support to the Brisson ministry of 1885. On the fall of the Brisson Ministry at the end ot 1885, he accepted the portfolio of Commerce in the new Government formed by M. de Freycinct. He was a free trader, and his appointment excited perhaps more interest than that of any of his colleagues. It was further remarkable that on his accession to office the name of his department was changed to that of "Commerce and Industry," matters especially affecting the working classes being transferred from the Ministry of the Interior. The appointment of Lockroy was a direct overture to the workingman, inasmuch as Lockroy, by advocating emancipation of the trade-unions, had achieved great popularity and in the elections of 1885 had received more votes than any other candidate in Paris. Lockroy immediately proposed several moderate measures.

At the general election in October 1885 his name appeared on both the Radical and the Opportunist lists for the Department of the Seine, and he was returned at the head of the poll. It is stated that M. de Freycinet had to abandon his desire to secure the services of another deputy, M.de Fallieres, in order to secure M. Lockroy, and therefore the lattcr's selection was looked upon as a concession to the Radical party, for the sake of securing the stability of the cabinet. Though identified with the Radical party and its organ, he took an independent course when voting for the Tonquin credits.

M. Lockroy was Minister of Commerce under M. de Freycinet in 1886, and of Public Instruction under M. Floquet; and in 1886 was charged with the organisation of the International Exhibition of 1889. He defended the erection of the Tour Eiffel against artistic Paris. In the September elections of 1889 he was elected for the Second District of the llth Arrondissement of Paris, beating the Bonlangist Massard by a large majority.

After the Panama and Boulangist scandals he became one of the leading politicians of the Radical party. The Chamber session of 1894 was not destined to produce many practical results. Interpellations, degenerating generally into sterile and irritating debates, absorbed the greater part of the sittings. The debate raised by M. Lockroy on the waste and absence of naval stores at various dockyards was far more serious. For some months previously, M. Clemencean, who had been rejected by the electors of the Var, had in his news-paper, La Justice, been carrying on a lively campaign on the subject of these dockyard scandals, supporting his case by official documents which showed that even the ships of war were not free from the same taint.

Such an enormous mass of evidence had been placed at the disposal of M. Lockroy, that the debate was prolonged for several days, and the Minister of Marine, Admiral Lefevre, and the Minister of War, were equally called upon to defend their respective departments. Public opinion was aroused to such a pitch of indignation by the disclosures that it was found necessary to make a concession.

A committee of inquiry was appointed, on which, among other competent authorities, places were given to M. Lockroy and to M. Brisson, to these were added certain senators representing the chief military posts, civil representatives of the Admiralty and War Office. The composition as well as size of the committee was at once attacked by the Radical papers, which pointed out that the majority could scarcely fail to be supporters of the Ministry. M. Lockroy therefore called upon the Chamber to insist upon the nomination of a purely parliamentary committee, but the Government refused to accept this proposal, and the Chamber by 344 to 151 votes supported its refusal. On this occasion the Government found itself supported by 279 Republicans of various shades, 20 Rallied, and 45 members of the Right.

Lockroy was vice-president of the Chamber in 1894 and in 1895.

A cabinet crisis followed closely upon the reassembling of the chambers on 22 October 1895. Dissensions and recriminations among the ministers in connection with the Madagascar expedition had seriously weakened the Ribot government, and attacks upon it by the Socialists and Radicals began promptly at the opening of the session. An interpellation by the Socialist Jaurs on the ministry's conduct in connection with a strike at Carmaux failed of decisive results. But on October 28 a motion of M. Rouanet, practically censuring the government for shielding politicians who were charged with complicity in corrupt operations of a railway syndicate, was carried. 310 to 211. A Radical cabinet was then formed under the leadership of M. Lon Bourgeois, with Berthelot for foreign affairs, Cavaignac for war, and Lockroy for the marine.

Lockroy's drastic measures of reform alarmed moderate politicians, but he had the confidence of the country. M. Lockroy, when in Opposition had unsparingly denounced the despotic rule of the admirals attached to the Ministry. He had carried a resolution for the appointment of a mixed commission of inquiry, composed of deputies, senators, and functionaries. Once installed in office M. Lockroy refused to communicate to this body the documents necessary for their information ; he despatched naval officers to the chief ports to receive the members of the Committee ; and having thundered against nepotism as one of the worst ills of the French Navy, he created a Higher School of Naval Warfare, wholly composed of commanders, professors and pupils, whose chief merit was the favor of the minister.

M. Lockroy was surrounded by officers to whom the submarine program of Admiral Aube was not a chimera. The study of submarine navigation was actively pushed forward, and if M. Lockroy had remained at the Ministry France would have had an important number of these weapons of naval warfare, so precious and so indispensable ; but he was superseded, and, according to custom, his successor began to undo the good work of his predecessor.

M. Lockroy returned to the Ministry of Marine in 1898. On the constitution of the Brisson Cabinet in 1898, he was offered, and he accepted, the Portfolio of Minister of Marine, a position on which he had laid the foundations of an European reputation. His statesmanlike reorganisation of the navy received such support from all responsible parties that, notwithstanding the overthrow of his colleagues, M. Lockroy retained office as Minister of Marine in M. Charles Dupuy's Cabinet of October 1898, and through this unusual opportunity was enabled to continue the vast scheme whose foundations he bad already partly laid. His policy was as vigorous as his administration, and had brought him a large measure of official approval and general popularity.

Most of the changes which he introduced during his last tenure of office were swept away by Admiral Besnard, but there was little doubt that he once more devoted himself to the policy he inaugurated during his last term of office. M. Lockroy was flooded with gratuitous advice of all sorts, and if one of the writers in the Marine Francaite had his way, M. Lockroy's ministry would be one of experiments. New shells and explosive to be tried, new commerce destroyers projected, submarine boats to be given a trial, and a great many other thing were to be attended to which his predecessor would have nothing to do with.

It would doubtless be some time before he can get to work on any of his new ideas, for, according to a French parliamentary paper, France had already sixty-nine vessels in hand - seven battleships, eight armored cruisers, nine protected cruisers, one despatch vessel, ten torpedo gunboats and one other gunboat, and a transport despatch vessel, with one sea-going torpedo boat and thirty others, and one submarine boat. Then there were, in addition, the vessels provided for under the votes of 1898, one battleship of 12,000 tons, three armored cruisers, five torpedo-boats, and six first-class boats. The total number of vessels, of which tbe construction will be commenced, continued, or completed in 1898 was ninety-one, with an aggregate displacement of about 242,000 tons.

The declaration of M. Lockroy, former minister of marine, that the French navy was merely a costly toy, and useless for lack of fortified ports and coaling stations, led to the adoption in 1900 of a new program, of which the chief features were the building of heavy battle-ships, swift armored cruisers with a large radius of action, fleets of sea-going torpedo boats, and the fortification of various points in Algeria, Tunis, Senegal, and Indo-China; all this to be completed before 1907 at an outlay of 762,000,000 francs.

He gave his support to the Waldeck-Rousseau Administration, but actively criticized the marine policy of Camille Pelletan in the Combes ministry of 1902-1905, during which period he was again vice-president of the Chamber. M. Lockroy was a persistent and successful advocate of a strong naval policy, in defence of which he published La Marine de Guerre (1890), Six mois rue Royale (1897), La Dfense navale (1900), Du Weser la Vistula (1901), Les Marines franaise et allemande (1904), Le Programme naval (1906).




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