Camille Chautemps

Camille Chautemps (1 February 1885 – 1 July 1963) was a French Radical politician of the Third Republic, three times President of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister).

Camille Chautemps
Camille Chautemps (1885-1963).jpg
Chautemps c. 1930
Prime Minister of France
In office
21 February 1930 – 2 March 1930
PresidentGaston Doumergue
Preceded byAndré Tardieu
Succeeded byAndré Tardieu
In office
26 November 1933 – 30 January 1934
PresidentAlbert Lebrun
Preceded byAlbert Sarraut
Succeeded byÉdouard Daladier
In office
22 June 1937 – 13 March 1938
PresidentAlbert Lebrun
Preceded byLéon Blum
Succeeded byLéon Blum
Personal details
Born1 February 1885
Paris, France
Died1 July 1963(1963-07-01) (aged 78)
Washington, D.C., United States
Political partyRadical

He was the father-in-law of U.S. politician and statesman Howard J. Samuels.

Early lifeEdit

Born into a family of Radical politicians, Camille Chautemps was a lawyer by training and a noted amateur rugby-player in his youth, playing for Tours Rugby and Stade Français. He was inducted into the Grand Orient of France (1906, master 1908),[1] quitting the Freemasons in August 1940 as anti-masonic regulation is adopted by Pétain.

Early careerEdit

He entered local politics in the fiefdom of his parliamentarian uncle, Alphonse Chautemps, and followed a political career path typical of many Radical-Socialists: first elected town councillor for Tours (1912), then mayor (1919–25), parliamentary deputy (1919–34) and senator (1934–40). Chautemps was considered one of the chief figures of the 'right' (anti-socialist and pro-liberal) wing of the centre-left Radical-Socialist Party. Between 1924 and 1926, he served in the centre-left coalition governments of Édouard Herriot, Paul Painlevé and Aristide Briand.

Twice prime ministerEdit

Renowned as a skilful negotiator with friends from across the party divide, he was called upon on several occasions to attempt to build support for a coalition of the centre-left. He first became President of the Council for a short-lived government in 1930. After the electoral victory of the left in 1934, he served as Interior Minister and became head of government once more in November 1933. The revelations of the Stavisky Affair, a corruption scandal, tarnished two of his ministers, sparking violent protests by the far-right leagues. He resigned his posts on 27 January 1934, when the opposition press attributed Stavisky's suicide to a government cover-up.[2]

Deputy Prime minister and last premiershipEdit

In Léon Blum's Popular Front government of 1936, Chautemps represented the Radical-Socialist Party as a Minister of State and succeeded Blum at the head of the government from June 1937 to March 1938. The franc was devalued, but government finances remained in difficulty.[3] Pursuing the program of the Popular Front, he proceeded in the nationalisation of the railroads to create the SNCF. However, in January 1938, he formed a new government consisting solely of ministers from the nonsocialist republican centre- left.[4] In February, he granted married women financial and legal independence (until then, wives had been dependent on their husbands to take action involving family finances) and allowed them to go to university and to open bank accounts. His government also repealed Article 213 of the code: "the husband owes protection to his wife, the wife obedience to the husband". However, the husband remained "head of the household" with "the right to choose the household’s place of residence".[5] His government fell on 10 March.[6]

Runup to World War IIEdit

Chautemps subsequently served from April 1938 to May 1940 as deputy prime minister in the governments of Édouard Daladier and Paul Reynaud. After the latter resigned, as he was again deputy prime minister, now to Marshal Philippe Pétain.

World War IIEdit

France declared war on Germany in September 1939, and in May 1940, the German Army invaded and swept aside all opposition. With the fall of Dunkirk on 5 June and the defeat of the French Army imminent, Chautemps, dined with Paul Baudouin on the 8th, and declared that the war must be ended and that Pétain saw his position most clearly.[7] On the 11th, during a Cabinet meeting, Chautemps suggested for Churchill to be invited back to France to discuss the hopeless situation; he attended a conference at Tours on 13 June.[8] The Cabinet met again on the 15th and was almost evenly split on the question of an armistice with Germany. Chautemps now suggested that to break the deadlock, that they should get a neutral authority to enquire what the German terms would be, which if honourable, the Cabinet could agree to study. If not, the Cabinet would agree to fight on. The Chautemps proposal passed by 13 to 6.[9]

On 16 June, Charles de Gaulle, now in London, telephoned Reynaud to give him the British government's offer of joint nationality for French and British in a Franco-British union. A delighted Reynaud put it to a stormy Cabinet meeting and was supported by five of his ministers. Most of the others were persuaded against him by the arguments of Pétain, Chautemps and Jean Ybarnégaray, the last two seeing the offer as a device to make France subservient to Britain as an extra dominion. Georges Mandel, who had a Jewish background,[10] was flinging accusations of cowardice around the room, and Chautemps and others replied in kind. Reynaud clearly would not accept Chautemps's proposal and later resigned.[11]

Later lifeEdit

Chautemps broke with Pétain's government after he had arrived in the United States on an official mission and lived there for much of the rest of his life. After World War II, a French court convicted him in absentia for collaborating with the enemy;[12] he was amnestied in 1954.

After his death in Washington, DC, he was laid to rest in the Rock Creek Cemetery.

Chautemps's First Ministry, 21 February – 2 March 1930Edit

Chautemps's Second Ministry, 26 November 1933 – 30 January 1934Edit


  • 9 January 1934 – Lucien Lamoureux succeeds Dalimier as Minister of Colonies. Eugène Frot succeeds Lamoureux as Minister of Labour and Social Security Provisions. William Bertrand succeeds Frot as Minister of Merchant Marine.

Chautemps's Third Ministry, 22 June 1937 – 18 January 1938Edit

Chautemps's Fourth Ministry, 18 January – 13 March 1938Edit

Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of France
Succeeded by


  1. ^ Dictionnaire universel de la Franc-Maçonnerie by Monique Cara and Jean-Marc Cara and Marc de Jode (ed. Larousse, 2011)
  2. ^ Williams, 2005, p.259.
  3. ^ Griffiths, Richard, Pétain, Constable, London, 1970, p.p.197, ISBN 0-09-455740-3
  4. ^ Griffiths, 1970, p.197.
  5. ^ [France since 1870: Culture, Politics and Society by Charles Sowerine]
  6. ^ Griffiths, 1970, p.197.
  7. ^ Griffiths, 1970, p.231.
  8. ^ Griffiths, 1970, p.235.
  9. ^ Griffiths, 1970, p.237.
  10. ^ Webster, Paul, Pétain's Crime, Pan Macmillan, London, 1990, p.40, ISBN 0-333-57301-3
  11. ^ Griffiths, 1970, p.239.
  12. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica

External linksEdit