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Portrait of Adolphe Crémieux by Jules Jean Antoine Lecomte du Noüy

Adolphe Crémieux (April 30, 1796 – February 10, 1880) was a French-Jewish lawyer and statesman, and a staunch defender of the human rights of the Jews of France. [1 ]



He was born Isaac Moïse in Nîmes to a wealthy Jewish family from the papal enclave of Carpentras which had immigrated to Nîmes. He married a member of the Silny family in 1824.

Political career

After the revolution of 1830 he came to Paris, formed connections with numerous political personages, even with King Louis Philippe, and became a brilliant defender of Liberal ideas in the law courts and in the press. Examples include his Éloge funèbre of the bishop Grégoire (1830), his Mémoire for the political rehabilitation of Marshal Ney (1833), and his plea for the accused of April 1835. Elected deputy in 1842, he was one of the leaders in the campaign against the Guizot ministry, and his eloquence contributed greatly to the success of his party.

From 1834 until his death, Crémieux served as vice-president of the "Consistoire Central des Israélites de France" (Central Consistory of the Jews of France), the administrative agency for all French Jews. On February 24, 1848 he was chosen by the Republicans as a member of the provisional government, and as minister of justice he secured the decrees abolishing the death penalty for political offences, and making the office of judge immovable. That same year he was instrumental in declaring an end to slavery in all French Colonies, for which some have called him the French Abraham Lincoln. When the conflict between the Republicans and Socialists broke out he resigned office, but continued to sit in the constituent assembly. At first he supported Louis Napoleon, but when he discovered the prince's imperial ambitions he broke with him.

Arrested and imprisoned on December 2, 1851, he remained in private life until November 1869, when he was elected as a Republican deputy by Paris. On September 4, 1870 he was again chosen as a member of the government of national defence, and resumed his position in the ministry of justice. He then formed part of the Delegation of Tours, but took no part in the completion of the organization of defence. He resigned with his colleagues on February 14, 1871. Eight months later he was elected deputy, then life senator in 1875.

Crémieux did much to better the condition of the Jews. In 1827, he advocated the repeal of the More judaico, legislation stigmatizing the Jews left over from pre-revolutionary France.[2] He founded the Alliance Israelite Universelle in Paris in 1860, becoming its president four years later. In 1866 Crémieux traveled to Saint Petersburg to successfully defend Jews of Saratov who had been accused in a case of blood libel[2]

Crémieux published a Recueil of his political cases (1869), and the Actes de la délégation de Tours et de Bordeaux (2 vols, 1871).

Cremieux decree

While in the government of the national defence, he secured full citizenship for the Jews in French-ruled Algeria, through the 1870 Décret Crémieux. This, however, also set in motion an anti-Semitic counter-movement among the non-Jewish French colons in Algeria, which would later assert itself under the Hitler-backed Vichy regime. The decree allowed for European residents in Algeria (pied noirs) and its native Sephardi Jewish community to become French citizens while Muslim Arabs and Berbers were excluded and remained under the second-class "indigenous" status. This set the scene for deteriorating relations between the Muslim and Jewish communities, and proved fateful in the Algerian War of Independence, after which the vast majority of Algerian Jews emigrated to France.


Crémieux died in Paris in 1880 and was buried at Montparnasse cemetery.


A street is named after him in Jerusalem's German Colony neighborhood.[1 ]

Political offices
Preceded by
Michel Hebert
Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
Eugène Bethmont
Preceded by
Michel Grandperret
Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
Jules Dufaure




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