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Théophile Delcassé

Théophile Delcassé, French diplomat and statesman.
Delcassé caricatured by Guth for Vanity Fair, 1899

Théophile Delcassé (1 March 1852 – 22 February 1923) was a French statesman.


  • Biography 1
  • Portrayal in Media 2
  • References 3
  • Further reading 4
  • External links 5


He was born at Dahomey, and despatched the Liotard mission to the upper Ubangi.

While in opposition, he devoted special attention to naval affairs, and in noted speeches he declared that the function of the French navy was to secure and develop colonial enterprise, deprecated all attempts to rival the British fleet, and advocated the construction of commerce destroyers as France's best reply to England. On the formation of the second Brisson cabinet in June 1898 he succeeded Gabriel Hanotaux as Foreign Minister, and retained that post under the subsequent premierships of Dupuy, Waldeck-Rousseau, Combes and Rouvier.

In 1898 he had to deal with the delicate situation caused by Captain Marchand's occupation of the town of Fashoda in the Sudan (the Fashoda Incident) for which, as he admitted in a speech in the chamber on 23 January 1899, he accepted full responsibility, since it arose directly out of the Liotard expedition; and in March 1899 he concluded an agreement with Britain by which the difficulty was finally adjusted, and France consolidated her vast colonial empire in North-West Africa. In the same year he acted as mediator (with main mediator being J. Cambon, French ambassador in Washington) between the United States of America and Spain, and brought the peace negotiations to a successful conclusion.

Delcassé was an expansionist and very anti-German. Kaiser Wilhelm called him "The most dangerous man for Germany in France". Delcassé improved relations between France and Italy: at the same time, he adhered firmly to the alliance with Russia, and in August 1899 made a visit to Saint Petersburg, which he repeated in April 1901. In June 1900 he made an arrangement with Spain, fixing the long-disputed boundaries of the French and Spanish possessions in West Africa. Finally he concluded the Entente Cordiale with Great Britain, covering colonial and other questions which had long been a matter of dispute, especially concerning Egypt, Newfoundland and Morocco. Suspicion of the growing entente between France and England soon arose in Germany, and in 1905 German assertiveness was shown in a crisis which was forced on in the matter of French policy by Delcassé personally, a sore point with Germany. The situation became acute, and was only really relieved by Delcassé's resignation in early 1906.

He retired into private life, was prevailed upon to return in 1909 as chairman of a commission appointed to investigate the French navy. Later he promulgated closer cooperation between the British and French fleets. This arrangement was an important factor in leading Britain to side with France against Germany when World War I started. He returned to cabinet as foreign minister,[1] before retiring in 1915.

Portrayal in Media

  • Portrayed by Oliver Borlen in the 2012 Filipino film, El Presidente.


  1. ^ "French Ministry Resigns". The Independent. Sep 7, 1914. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 

Further reading

  • Andrew, Christopher M. Théophile Delcassé and the making of the Entente Cordiale: a reappraisal of French foreign policy 1898-1905 (Macmillan, 1968)
  • Brown, Roger Glenn. Fashoda reconsidered: the impact of domestic politics on French policy in Africa, 1893-1898 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1970)
  • Porter, Charles Wesley. The Career of Théophile Delcassé (Greenwood Press, 1975) online

External links

  •  "Delcassé, Théophile". The New Student's Reference Work. 1914. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Ernest Boulanger
Minister of Colonies
Succeeded by
Émile Chautemps
Preceded by
Gabriel Hanotaux
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Maurice Rouvier
Preceded by
Auguste Boué de Lapeyrère
Minister of Marine
Succeeded by
Pierre Baudin
Preceded by
Joseph Noulens
Minister of War
Succeeded by
Adolphe Messimy
Preceded by
Gaston Doumergue
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
René Viviani
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