Open main menu

Louis Gerhard De Geer

Baron Louis Gerard De Geer of Finspång (18 July 1818 – 24 September 1896) was a Swedish statesman and writer. He was born at Finspång Castle in Risinge parish. He was a lawyer, and in 1855 became president of the Göta hovrätt, or lord justice for the appellate court of Götaland. From 7 April 1858 to 3 June 1870 he was Prime Minister for Justice and again from 11 May 1875 to 20 March 1876. As a member of the nobility, he took part in the Swedish Riksdag of the Estates from 1851 onwards. From 1867 to 1878 he was the member for Stockholm in the first chamber in the New Riksdag, where he introduced and passed many useful reforms.

Louis Gerhard De Geer
Louis De Geer 1818-1896 from Hildebrand Sveriges historia.jpg
1st Prime Minister of Sweden
In office
20 March 1876 – 19 April 1880
MonarchOscar II
Preceded byPost established
Succeeded byArvid Posse
Minister for Justice
In office
20 March 1876 – 6 June 1879
Preceded byPost established
Succeeded byLudvig Teodor Almqvist
Prime Minister for Justice
In office
7 April 1858 – 3 June 1870
Preceded byClaës Günther
Succeeded byAxel Adlercreutz
In office
11 May 1875 – 20 March 1876
Preceded byEdvard Carleson
Succeeded byNone
Personal details
BornLouis Gerard De Geer af Finspång
(1818-07-18)18 July 1818
Finspång Castle, Sweden
Died24 September 1896(1896-09-24) (aged 78)
Hanaskog Castle, Sweden
NationalitySwedish
Political partyIndependent liberal
Spouse(s)Caroline Wachtmeister
Children6
ParentsGerhard De Geer
Henriette Charlotte Lagerstråle
ResidenceHanaskog Castle
EducationLinköpings Gymnasium
Alma materUppsala universitet[1]
OccupationStatesman, lawyer

Contents

Architect of the New RiksdagEdit

De Geer's greatest political achievement was the reform of the Swedish representative system. The reforms introduced a bi-cameral elected Riksdag replacing the existing cumbersome and less democratic Riksdag of the Estates, a hangover from the later Medieval Times. This measure was accepted by the Riksdag in December 1865, and received the royal sanction on 22 June 1866. For some time after this De Geer enjoyed considerable popularity. He retired from the ministry in 1870, but took office again, as Prime Minister of Justice in 1875.

First Prime MinisterEdit

In 1876 De Geer became the first Prime Minister of Sweden[2] following a reform where the previous offices of Prime Minister for Justice (which he held at the time) and Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs where changed into Minister for Justice and a Minister for Foreign Affairs. He served until April 1880, when the failure of his repeated efforts to settle the armaments issue again induced him to resign. From 1881 to 1888 he was Chancellor for the Universities of Uppsala and Lund. He was an advocate of free trade and economic liberalism. Some argue that it was De Geer who laid the foundations for the strong economic growth in Sweden from 1870 to 1970.

Literary worksEdit

Besides several novels and aesthetic essays, De Geer wrote a few political memoirs of supreme merit both as to style and matter, the most notable of which are Minnesteckning öfver A. J. v. Höpken (Stockholm, 1881); Minnesteckning öfver Hans Järta (Stockholm, 1874); Minnesteckning öfver B. B. von Platen (Stockholm, 1886); and his own Minnen (Stockholm, 1892), an autobiography, invaluable as a historical document, in which the political experience and the matured judgments of a lifetime are recorded with singular clearness, sobriety and charm. For example, his explanation of why he, at such a young age, was appointed Prime Minister of Justice, was that in the narrow circles of Swedish nobility at the time, it was difficult to find anyone with at least the mediocre intelligence which was needed for the office.

Membership in academiesEdit

De Geer was a member in the Swedish Academy from 1862, on Seat 17. In 1862, he was also elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Personal lifeEdit

In 1848, De Geer married the countess Carolina Lovisa Wachtmeister. They had three sons, of which the eldest, Gerhard Louis De Geer (1854–1935), was prime minister of Sweden from 1920 to 21 and the second was Gerard De Geer (1858–1943), a geologist.[3]

De Geer died on 24 September 1896 at his residence Hanaskog Castle in Scania.[3]

 
De Geer in a contemporary newspaper caricature, depicted as St George fighting the four-headed dragon of the old four-chamber Riksdag of the Estates. From Emil Hildebrand, Sveriges historia intill tjugonde seklet (1910).

ReferencesEdit

  •   This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainRobert Nisbet Bain (1911). "De Geer, Louis Gerhard, Baron". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  1. ^ "Louis G De Geer". Riksarkivet. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Sweden" (in Swedish). World Statesmen. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  3. ^ a b Hofberg, Herman; Heurlin, Frithiof; Millqvist, Viktor; Rubenson, Olof (1906). Svenskt biografiskt handlexikon: alfabetiskt ordnade lefnadsteckningar af Sveriges namnkunniga män och kvinnor från reformationen till nuvarande tid (in Swedish) (Ny uppl. /grundligt genomsedd, omarbetad och till våra dagar framförd af Frithiof Heurlin ... ed.). Stockholm: Bonnier. pp. 227–228. LIBRIS 81312.
Political offices
Preceded by
Office established
Prime Minister of Sweden
20 March 1876–19 April 1880
Succeeded by
Arvid Posse
Cultural offices
Preceded by
Anders Magnus Strinnholm
Swedish Academy,
Seat No.17

1862-1896
Succeeded by
Pehr Jacob von Ehrenheim