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Léon Bourgeois

Léon Bourgeois was a French politician. He is known as the leading proponent of cooperative solidarism. He was the first president of the League of Nations and, in 1920, won the Nobel Peace Prize.

He shares his story with you…

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©Léon Bourgeois Portrait
Léon Bourgeois


Hello, my name is Léon Bourgeois

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.

At the Ministry of Labour in 1910, I introduced workers’ and farmers’ pensions (ROP). The following year, another progressive radical, Joseph Caillaux, introduced progressive income tax.

In 1919, twenty years after my proposals in the Hague, I set up the League of Nations. Due to my desire to regulate relations between countries, I was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize the following year.

Elected President of the Senate, this was the last major political office I held up to 1923, two years before my death. I died in 1925 at the age of 74.”

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Where to find me today


In front of the archives
23 Rue Carnot
51000 Châlons-en-Champagne



Ashes scattered at the Western Cemetery
Sellier family tomb