Theopile Delcasse

by Kendall Hepworth
Class of 1997

Theophile Delcasse was born in Pamiers. He attended the University of Toulouse. After College he became a journalist at several prominent papers in France. This however was not the field in which he would become famous

Delcasse's life started to change when he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies. This political appointment led to a post as under Secretary of State for France's colonies. In this post he did nothing of major importance. It was however a good place to practice political tactics, etc. In June 1898 he became Minister of Foreign Affairs under Premier Eugene Brisson. It was in this position that that he used his diplomatic abilities to win vital victories for France.

Bismarck's goal after the Franco-Prussian war to make sure that France remained isolated so that it could not retaliate against the German annexation of Alsace-Lorraine. Delcass�'s goal was to "fortify" France's international position. Delcass� succeeded in strengthening France's relations with Russia. He also eagerly sought the friendship of the United States.

However Delcass�'s most celebrated victory was (after it proved beneficial) the Entente with England. This was a reconciliation of the abrasion that had hampered French-English relations for centuries. He went against French public opinion to quietly back down at Fashoda and save the British (and the French) a war that would have surely weakened them. Not a pleasant thought in the wake of William II's aggressive and unpredictable attitude.

He was able to achieve this for several reasons. First of all England had alienated many of the European countries and was beginning to feel rather alone and vulnerable. Added to this is William II's aggressive behavior. During the Boer wars he took sides against England. Besides that, during the conferences over Morocco the English had viewed Germany's conduct as belligerent and had even threatened military reprisals