1909 Auguste Marie Fran�ois Beernaert, Paul HenriBenjamin d by HC120730102538


									1909 Auguste Marie François Beernaert, Paul HenriBenjamin d'Estournelles de Constant,
Baron de Constant de Rebecque

Auguste Marie François Beernaert – Biography
Auguste Marie François Beernaert (July 26, 1829-October 6, 1912) was born in
Ostend, Belgium, in a middle-class Catholic family of Flemish origin. His father was a
government functionary whose changing appointments took the family from Ostend to
Dinant and then to Namur, where Auguste and his sister spent their childhood. Their
early education was undertaken by their mother, a woman of outstanding intelligence and
moral character. Admitted to the University of Louvain in 1846, Beernaert took his
doctorate in law in 1851 with the highest distinction. Awarded a traveling fellowship, he
spent two years at the Universities of Paris, Heidelberg, and Berlin, studying the status of
legal education in France and Germany and upon his return to Belgium submitting a
report of his findings - later published - to the minister of the Interior.

Admitted to the bar in 1853, he clerked for a time for Hubert Dolez, a prominent lawyer
and former president of the Chamber of Representatives, then set up an independent
practice, specializing in fiscal law. In the next twenty years his essays in legal journals
earned him a reputation as a scholar, and his practice a comfortable fortune.
Consequently, there was some surprise expressed in Belgian legal circles when he gave
up his practice in 1873 to become the minister of public works in Jules Malou's
conservative Catholic cabinet. In the next five years Beernaert proved to be an able and
energetic administrator. He improved the country's rail, canal, and road systems,
established new port facilities at Ostend and Anvers, and beautified the capital, but he
failed in his attempt to end child labor in the mines. In June of 1874 he lost a contest for
a seat in the Senate but three months later won an election in the west Flanders town of
Thielt, a constituency which re-elected him until his death.

When the Catholic Party, defeated in 1878, was returned to power in 1884, Beernaert
was named minister of the Department of Agriculture, Industry, and Public Works in the
new cabinet. Four months later, after some resignations from the cabinet, King Leopold II
entrusted Beernaert with the direction of the government.

Beernaert was prime minister of Belgium and finance minister for the next ten years.
Under his administration the budget was balanced; the Flemish language was protected;
the independent State of the Congo was created in 1885 and the title of sovereign of that
land given to Leopold who had personally been largely responsible for its development;
social and judicial reforms designed to protect the welfare of the workingman were
instituted in 1887 in the wake of riots in that year; military fortifications on the Meuse
were constructed in order to defend Belgian neutrality; the constitution of 1831 was
revised, the right of suffrage being granted to ten times the number of citizens who had
formerly enjoyed it.

On another constitutional question, that of proportional representation, the cabinet fell in
1894. Although he returned to his law practice, Beernaert continued to serve in the
government. He accepted the advisory post of minister of state and from 1895 to 1900
served as the president of the Chamber of Representatives, being elected by his
colleagues. A lifelong patron of the arts, he was selected to head the Commission of
Museums and Arts. During this period he engaged actively in international attempts to
abolish slavery and solidified into active opposition his dismay at the exploitation of the
Congo that had troubled his relationship with Leopold in the last part of his tenure as
prime minister.
One of Belgium's leading pacifists, Beernaert became an active member of the
Interparliamentary Union after he resigned from the prime ministry, presided over
several of its conferences, and served as president of its Council after 1899 and of its
Executive Committee after its creation in 1908. At the Peace Conference at The Hague in
1899 he presided over the First Commission on arms limitation; at the Conference of
1907, over the Second Commission on codification of land war. He was a member of the
Permanent Court of Arbitration; he represented Mexico in 1902 in the dispute with the
United States, the first case to be brought before the Court; and on many occasions he
acted as arbiter of international quarrels. Beernaert was the primary force behind
proposals to unify international maritime law; those resulting from the international
conferences of 1885 and 1888, convened on his initiative, failed of adoption by the
several nations, but the conventions dealing with collision and assistance at sea drawn up
in 1910 at the conference in Brussels under his chairmanship were soon signed by many
nations. He exemplified his own aphorism: «The first virtue of politics and the first
element of success is perseverance».1

On his way home from the 1912 Geneva conference of the Interparliamentary Union on
the prohibition of air warfare, Beernaert was hospitalized in Lucerne where he died of
pneumonia. He was buried at Boitsfort with the simplest of ceremonies, as he had

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Paul Henri Benjamin Balluet d'Estournelles de Constant – Biography
Paul Henri Benjamin Balluet, Baron d'Estournelles de Constant de Rebecque (November 22, 1852 -
May 15, 1924), the son of an aristocratic family tracing its ancestry back to the Crusaders, was born at La
Flèche in the Sarthe district of the Loire valley. A diplomat and politician, d'Estournelles, immensely
energetic, found time to engage in fencing, yachting, and painting, and to pursue a keen interest in the
automobile and the airplane after those machines had made their debut.

He attended the Lycée Louis le Grand in Paris, completed his legal studies, received a diploma from the
School of Oriental Languages. Entering the diplomatic corps in 1876 as an attaché in the consular
department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, d'Estournelles represented France in the next six years in
Montenegro, Turkey, The Netherlands, England, and Tunis. Recalled to Paris in 1882, he assumed the
assistant directorship of the Near Eastern Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

D'Estournelles was named chargé d'affaires in London in 1890 and both there and back in Paris helped to
avert a possible war between England and France over a conflict of interests in Siam. Reflecting later on
those days, in a speech in Edinburgh in 1906, d'Estournelles said he became convinced of the general
impotence of those in the diplomatic service and resolved to abandon the «gilded existence of the
diplomatist in order to undertake the real struggle... against ignorance» by obtaining an elective seat in the
legislature and attempting to remedy the situation in which «the silent majority allow themselves to be
persuaded that they know nothing of ‹Foreign Affairs› »1. And so, on May 19, 1895, he began his political
career as deputy from Sarthe, elected by the same constituency that had years earlier elected his famous
great-uncle, the author Benjamin Constant de Rebecque. Elected senator from the same region in 1904, he
held that seat as an active Radical-Socialist until his death.

From the time that he was chosen to serve on the French delegation to the first Hague Peace Conference in
1899, d'Estournelles devoted himself almost exclusively to working for peace and arbitration. At the Peace
Conference he led the successful struggle to strengthen the language dealing with arbitration and the court
in Article 27 of Convention I, and in 1902 scored a notable success for arbitration when, during a visit to
the United States, he was influential in persuading President Theodore Roosevelt to submit a U.S. dispute
with Mexico to the Hague Tribunal.
In 1903, d'Estournelles founded a parliamentary group composed of members of the French Chamber and
Senate irrespective of party, dedicated to the advancement of international arbitration, and employing as its
chief method, the exchange of visits with foreign parliamentarians. A goodwill mission to London under
his chairmanship in 1903 - and a return visit to Paris by British parliamentarians - helped pave the way for
the Franco-British Entente Cordiale of 1904; a visit to Munich gave birth to the Franco-German
Association in 1903. In 1905 at Paris he founded the Association for International Conciliation, with
branches abroad.

D'Estournelles' long-range solution for European problems was a political one - the formation of a
European union. But meanwhile he continued to pursue those of a diplomatic and juridical nature - as an
active contributor to the work of the Interparliamentary Union, as a member of the French delegation to the
second Hague Peace Conference of 1907, as a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, as president
of the European Center of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

During the First World War, d'Estournelles supported the French effort, interesting himself particularly in
measures against German submarines and turning his home - the Chateau de Clermont-Créans on the Loire
- into a hospital for the wounded. In 1918 he denounced the armistice as meaningless as long as German
soldiers remained on French soil. At the same time, however, he continued his campaign for international
understanding: he joined Léon Bourgeois (Nobel Peace Prizewinner for 1920) in presenting a plan for the
League of Nations to Clemenceau in 1918, and in later years he never ceased trying to bring together
parliamentarians of various nations, especially those of France and Germany.

Throughout his career d'Estournelles proved a gifted writer and speaker. He published translations from the
classical Greek, as well as a book on Grecian times; wrote a play based on the Pygmalion myth; won the
French Academy's Prix Thérouanne in 1891 with a book on French politics in Tunisia; produced speeches,
pamphlets, and articles covering topics that ranged from French politics to feminism, from arbitration to
aviation. Possessed of an admirable command of English - helped, no doubt, by his marriage to an
American, Daisy Sedgwick-Berend - he made a number of lecture tours in the United States and published
in 1913 a comprehensive review entitled Les États-Unis d'Amérique [America and Her Problems]. He
became, indeed, a leading French authority on the United States.

D'Estournelles died in Paris in 1924 at the age of seventy-two and was interred in the Père-Lachaise
cemetery. Two days after his death, his final speech, commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the
first Peace Conference, was read by his son Paul at The Hague.

Nobel lecture not available

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