Jules Ferry


Case Study One, Jules Ferry

Jules Ferry was a French politician who served twice as premier during the Third Republic, the title of the government of France from 1871-1940. He was a fervent imperialist and during his terms, France acquired Tunisia and areas of Indochina, and started investigating Africa. The French National Assembly held debates in which Ferry often justified his strategies against conservative and socialist detractors who opposed French imperialism.
In his “Speech Before the French Chamber of Deputies, March 28, 1884”, Jules Ferry stated, “The policy of colonial expansion is a political and economic system … that can be connected to three sets of ideas: economic ideas; the most far-reaching ideas of civilization; and ideas of a political and patriotic sort” (Robiqu et, 1897). Ferry went on to document recent developments and statistics in world trade that supported his stance.
Economically, Ferry justified the colonial expansion policy as an urgent need of the industrialized population of Europe, and especially the rich and hardworking citizens of France. He stated France’s needs for outlets, or exports, was critical because neighboring Germany was forming trade barriers, and overseas, the United States were becoming extreme protectionists of their markets, but in turn were starting to seep their own products, such as agriculture, into France. Ferry charged that competition was no longer limited to Europe and that the law of supply and demand, liberty of business, and effects of ventures all extend to the entire world.
To support his theory, Ferry claimed that because a perfectly designed naval warship cannot carry more than two weeks’ supply of coal, France needed ports for defense, shelter, and provisioning. He further stated that France should occupy Tunisia, Saigon, Indochina, and Madagascar indefinitely. Ferry felt that because of France’s numerous rivals’...