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Michel Chevalier

Michel Chevalier (January 13, 1806 ‚Äď November 18, 1879) was a French engineer, statesman, economist and free market liberal.



Born in Limoges, Haute-Vienne, Chevalier studied at the √Čcole Polytechnique, obtaining an engineering degree at the Paris √Čcole des mines in 1829.

In 1830, after the July Revolution, he became a Saint-Simonian, and edited their paper Le Globe. The paper was banned in 1832, when the "Simonian sect" was found to be prejudicial to the social order, and Chevalier, as its editor, was sentenced to six months imprisonment.

After his release, Minister of the Interior Adolphe Thiers sent him on a mission to the United States and Mexico, to observe the state of industrial and financial affairs in the Americas. In Mexico he exchanged ideas with the mineralogist and politician Andrés Manuel del Río. It was during this trip that he also developed the idea that the Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking parts of the Americas shared a cultural or racial affinity with all the European peoples with a Romance culture. Chevalier postulated that this part of the Americas were inhabited by people of a "Latin race," which could be a natural ally of "Latin Europe" in its struggle with "Teutonic Europe," "Anglo-Saxon America" and "Slavic Europe."[1] The idea was later taken up by French and Latin American intellectuals and political leaders of the mid- and late-nineteenth century, who no longer looked to Spain or Portugal as cultural models, but rather to France, and who coined the term "Latin America."[2][3]

In 1837 he wrote a well received work, Des intérèts matériels en France, after which his career took off. At age 35, he was appointed professor of political economy at the Collège de France. He was elected a député for the département of Aveyron in 1845, an appointment of Senator followed in 1860. In 1859, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Together with Richard Cobden and John Bright he prepared the free trade agreement of 1860 between the United Kingdom and France, which is still called Cobden-Chevalier Treaty.

He died in Montpellier.


  • Des int√©r√®ts mat√©riels en France, 1837
  • Histoire et description des voies de communication aux √Čtats-Unis, 1840-42, 2 volumes
  • Essais de politique industrielle, 1843
  • Cours d'√©conomie politique, 1842-44 u. 1850, 3 volumes
  • L'isthme de Panama, suivi d'un apercu sur l'isthme de Suez, 1844
  • Les Brevets d'invention examin√©s dans leurs rapports avec le principe de la libert√© du travail et avec le principe de l'√©galit√© des citoyens, 1878

See also


  1. ^ Mignolo, Walter (2005). The Idea of Latin America. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. p. 77‚Äď80. ISBN 9781405100861.  
  2. ^ McGuiness, Aims (2003). "Searching for 'Latin America': Race and Sovereignty in the Americas in the 1850s" in Appelbaum, Nancy P. et al. (eds.). Race and Nation in Modern Latin America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 87-107. ISBN 0-8078-5441-7
  3. ^ Chasteen, John Charles (2001). Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America. W. W. Norton. page156. ISBN 0393976130.  
  • Robinson, Moncure (1880). "Obituary Notice of Michel Chevalier". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 19 (107): 28‚Äď37.  

External links

  • Gallica includes works of Michel Chevalier

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

MICHEL CHEVALIER (1806-1879), French economist, was born at Limoges on the 13th of January 1806. In his early manhood, while employed as an engineer, he became a convert to the theories of Saint Simon; these he ardently advocated in the Globe, the organ of the Saint Simonians, which he edited until his arrest in 1832 on a charge of outraging public morality by its publication. He was sentenced to a year's imprisonment, but was released in six months through the intervention of Thiers, who sent him on a special mission to the United States to study the question of land and water transport. In 1836 he published, in two volumes, the letters he wrote from America to the Journal des debats. These attracted so much attention that he was sent in the same year on an economic mission to England, which resulted in his publication (in 1838) of Des interets materiels de la France. The success of this made his position secure, and in 1840 he was appointed professor of political economy in the College de France. He sat for a short time (1845-1846) as a member of the Chamber of Deputies, but lost his seat owing to his enthusiastic adoption of the principles of free trade. Under Napoleon III. he was restored to the position of which the revolution of 1848 had temporarily deprived him. In 1850 he became a member of the Institute, and in the following year published an important work in favour of free trade, under the title of Examen du systeme commercial connu sous le nom de systeme protecteur. His chief public triumph was the important part he played in bringing about the conclusion of the commercial treaty between France and Great Britain in 1860. Previously to this he had served, in 1855, upon the commission for organizing the Exhibition of 1855, and his services there led to his forming one of the French jury of awards in the London Exhibition of 1862. He was created a member of the Senate in 1860, and continued for some years to take an active part in its discussions. He retired from public life in 1870, but was unceasingly industrious with his pen. He became grand officer of the Legion of Honour in 1861, and during the later years of his life received from many quarters public recognition of his eminence as a political economist. He died at his chateau near Montpellier (Herault) on the 28th of November 1879. Many of his works have been translated into English and other languages. Besides those already mentioned the more important are: Cours d'economie politique (1842-1850); Essais de politique industrielle (1843); De la baisse probable d'or (1859, translated into English by Cobden, On the Probable Fall of the Value of Gold, Manchester, 1859); L'Expedition du Mexique (1862); Introduction aux rapports du jury international (1868).

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