Alexandre Millerand (February 10, 1859 – April 7, 1943) was a French socialist and politician. He was president of France from 1920 to 1924.
Born in Paris, he was educated for the bar, and made his reputation by his defence, in company with Georges Laguerre, of Ernest Roche and Duc-Quercy, the instigators of the strike at Decazeville in 1883; he then took Laguerre’s place on Georges Clemenceau’s paper, La Justice.
He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies for the département of the Seine in 1885 as a radical socialist. He was associated with MM. Clemenceau and Camille Pelletan as an arbitrator in the Carmaux strike (1892). He had long had the ear of the Chamber in matters of social legislation, and after the Panama scandals had discredited so many politicians his influence grew.
He was chief of the Socialist left, which then mustered sixty members, and edited until 1896 their organ in the press, La Petite République. His programme included the collective ownership of the means of production and the international association of labour, but when in June 1899 he entered Waldeck-Rousseau’s cabinet of “republican defence” as minister of commerce he limited himself to practical reforms, devoting his attention to the improvement of the mercantile marine, to the development of trade, of technical education, of the postal system, and to the amelioration of the conditions of labour.
Labour questions were entrusted to a separate department, the Direction du Travail, and the pension and insurance office was also raised to the status of a “direction.”
The introduction of trades-union representatives on the Supreme Labour Council, the organization of local labour councils, and the instructions to factory inspectors to put themselves in communication with the councils of the trades-unions, were valuable concessions to labour, and he further secured the rigorous application of earlier laws devised for the protection of the working-classes.
His name was especially associated with a project for the establishment of old age pensions, which became law in 1905. He became in 1898 editor of La Lanterne. His influence with the extreme Socialists had already declined, for it was said that his departure from the true Marxist tradition had disintegrated the party.