Caillaux, Joseph

Caillaux, Joseph zhôzĕfˈ kāyōˈ [key], 1863–1944, French statesman. Son of a former cabinet minister, he entered the French civil service as inspector of finance. He later became finance minister in the cabinet of René Waldeck-Rousseau (1899–1902) and in the cabinet of Georges Clemenceau (1906–9), winning considerable unpopularity by introducing the income tax. As premier in 1911, he reached a peaceful settlement of the crisis over Morocco with Germany. However, he was severely attacked by the nationalists, and his cabinet fell in 1912. In 1913 he again became minister of finance. He resigned in 1914 to defend his wife, who had shot and killed Gaston Calmette, editor of Le Figaro, for attacking Caillaux's private life. Mme Caillaux was acquitted. Caillaux expressed pacifist sentiments during World War I and allegedly made contact with the Germans to discuss a negotiated peace. He was arrested (1917) and sentenced (1920) to three years imprisonment for involvement with the enemy. After his civil rights were restored under a general amnesty, Caillaux served as finance minister in the cabinets of Paul Painlevé (1925) and Aristide Briand (1926), but after each appointment a hostile chamber of deputies forced his resignation. He was subsequently elected to the senate.

See R. Binion, Defeated Leaders: The Political Fate of Caillaux, Jouvenel, and Tardieu (1960).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: French History: Biographies