I was born in Paris on May 21st, 1851. I studied law before joining the Prefecture administration, where I successively held the positions of Lawyer, Secretary General, Prefect, Deputy and later, Senator for the Marne.
Coming from the Radical movement, I am known for my daring proposals for social change in the early days of the Third Republic. In 1890, I became Minister of the Interior, then Minister of Justice in 1893 and Minister of Public Instruction from 1890 to 1898.
As Président du Conseil (head of government) from November 1895 to April 1896, I campaigned, without success, for the separation of the Church and the State, the introduction of income tax and the right to a pension for all workers.
Undeterred by these failures, I became the leading proponent of radicalism and invented “solidarism”, putting forward pioneering measures such as progressive income tax, free education and national insurance. At the Hague Peace Conferences (1899 and 1901), I presented a suggested procedure for settling disputes through arbitration.