Sadi Carnot (statesman)

(Redirected from Marie François Sadi Carnot)

Marie François Sadi Carnot (French: [maʁi fʁɑ̃swa sadi kaʁno]; 11 August 1837 – 25 June 1894) was a French statesman, who served as the President of France from 1887 until his assassination in 1894.[1]

Sadi Carnot
Portrait officiel de Sadi Carnot.jpg
Official portrait c. 1880s
President of France
In office
3 December 1887 – 25 June 1894
Prime Minister
Preceded byJules Grévy
Succeeded byJean Casimir-Perier
Minister of Finance
In office
16 April 1885 – 11 December 1886
Prime Minister
Preceded byJean-Jules Clamageran
Succeeded byAlbert Dauphin
Minister of Public Works
In office
6 April 1885 – 16 April 1885
Prime MinisterHenri Brisson
Preceded byDavid Raynal
Succeeded byCharles Demôle
In office
23 September 1880 – 14 November 1881
Prime MinisterJules Ferry
Preceded byHenri Varroy
Succeeded byDavid Raynal
Personal details
Born11 August 1837
Limoges, France
Died25 June 1894 (aged 56)
Lyon, France
Manner of deathAssassination
Political partyModerate Republican

His presidency was marked by a series of poorly handled crises. General Boulanger's rapid rise and failed attempt to march on the Elysee in 1889 posed the first serious threat to the Republic during Carnot's term. Then came a series of ministerial crises, financial scandals, labor turmoil, anarchist violence, and finally Carnot's own assassination in 1894. The Panama scandals, involving bribes to parliamentarians, resulted in major financial losses and deeply embarrassed those involved. The extreme right-wing newspaper La Libre Parole, run by anti-Semitic publicist Édouard Drumont, escalated intolerance towards Third Republic politics.[2]

Carnot presided over a few achievements. He was well received when he travelled around France and when he inaugurated the 1889 exhibition celebrating the French Revolution, and he facilitated a rapprochement with Russia. His term in office bolstered the power and influence of the presidency.[3]

Early lifeEdit

Sadi Carnot, c. 1873

Marie François Sadi Carnot was the son of the statesman Hippolyte Carnot and was born in Limoges, Haute-Vienne. His third given name Sadi was in honour of his uncle Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot, the engineer who formulated the second law of thermodynamics and is generally regarded as the founder of the subject, who in turn was named after the Persian poet Sadi of Shiraz. Like his uncle, Marie François came to be known as Sadi Carnot. In his scientific-mindedness and Republican leanings, he resembled his grandfather, Lazare Carnot, the military modernizer and member of the Directory of the French Revolution.

He was educated as a civil engineer and was a highly distinguished student at both the École Polytechnique and the École des Ponts et Chaussées. After his academic course, he obtained an appointment in the public service. His hereditary republicanism caused the government of national defence to entrust him in 1870 with the task of organizing resistance in the départements of the Eure, Calvados and Seine-Inférieure, and he was made prefect of Seine-Inférieure in January 1871. In the following month he was elected to the French National Assembly by the département Côte-d'Or. He joined the Opportunist Republican parliamentary group, Gauche républicaine. In August 1878 he was appointed secretary to the minister of public works. He became minister in September 1880 and again in April 1885, moving almost immediately to the ministry of finance, which post he held under both the Ferry and the Freycinet administrations until December 1886.[4]


Illustration of Carnot's assassination

When the Daniel Wilson scandals occasioned the downfall of Jules Grévy in December 1887, Carnot's reputation for integrity made him a candidate for the presidency, and he obtained the support of Georges Clemenceau and many others, so that he was elected by 616 votes out of 827. He assumed office at a critical period, when the republic was all but openly attacked by General Boulanger.[4]

Carnot's ostensible part during this agitation was confined to augmenting his popularity by well-timed appearances on public occasions, which gained credit for the presidency and the republic. When, early in 1889, Boulanger was finally driven into exile, it fell to Carnot to appear as head of the state on two occasions of special interest, the celebration of the centenary of the French Revolution in 1889 and the opening of the Paris Exhibition of the same year.[5] The success of both was regarded as a popular ratification of the republic, and though continually harassed by the formation and dissolution of ephemeral ministries, by socialist outbreaks, and the beginnings of anti-Semitism, Carnot had only one serious crisis to surmount, the Panama scandals of 1892, which, if they greatly damaged the prestige of the state, increased the respect felt for its head, against whose integrity none could breathe a word.[4]

Carnot was in favour of the Franco-Russian Alliance and received the Order of St Andrew from Alexander III.


Carnot was reaching the zenith of his popularity, when, on 24 June 1894, after delivering a speech at a public banquet in Lyon in which he appeared to imply that he would not seek re-election, he was stabbed by an Italian anarchist named Sante Geronimo Caserio.[4] Carnot died shortly after midnight on 25 June.[6] The stabbing aroused widespread horror and grief, and the president was honoured with an elaborate funeral ceremony in the Panthéon on 1 July 1894.[7]

Caserio called the assassination a political act, and was executed on 16 August 1894.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Harismendy, Patrick (1995). Sadi Carnot : l'ingénieur de la République. Paris: Perrin.
  2. ^ David Scott Bell, et al. eds. Biographical dictionary of French political leaders since 1870 (Prentice Hall, 1990). pp 69–70.
  3. ^ Bell, Biographical dictionary of French political leaders since 1870 (1990). pp 69–70.
  4. ^ a b c d Chisholm 1911.
  5. ^ Ory, Pascal (1989). l'Expo Universelle. Brussels: Editions Complexe.
  6. ^ Lacassagne, Alexandre (1843–1924) Auteur du texte; Poncet, A. Auteur du texte (10 April 1894). "L'assassinat du président Carnot / par A. Lacassagne,..." A. Storck. Retrieved 10 April 2018 – via
  7. ^ Le Président Carnot et ses Funérailles au Panthéon. Librarie le Soudier. 1895. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  8. ^ "Caserio at the Guillotine". The New York Times. 16 August 1894. Retrieved 24 June 2008.

Furthere readingEdit

  • Bell, David Scott, et al. eds. Biographical dictionary of French political leaders since 1870 (Prentice Hall, 1990). pp 69–70.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Public Works
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Public Works
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of France
Succeeded by
Regnal titles
Preceded by Co-Prince of Andorra
Served alongside:
Salvador Casañas y Pagés
Succeeded by