Simon, Jules

Simon, Jules zhül sēmôNˈ [key], 1814–96, French statesman. His full name was Jules François Simon Suisse. He taught philosophy at the Sorbonne from 1839 to 1852, during which time he edited the works of several philosophers and wrote his Histoire de l'école d'Alexandrie (2 vol., 1844–45). He was elected (1848) to the national assembly and later entered the council of state. His republican opinions led to his retirement, and his subsequent refusal to swear allegiance to Louis Napoleon lost him his professorship (1852). Until 1863, Simon devoted himself to intellectual pursuits, writing Natural Religion (1856, tr. 1857), La Liberté (1859), and other works. Resuming political activity, he served as deputy (1863–75) and then was made senator for life. A member of the government of national defense after the French defeat at Sedan, he served (1870–73) as minister of education and proposed many educational reforms that helped to liberalize the secondary school system. Because of Simon's moderate republicanism President MacMahon chose him as premier (1876–77) in preference to Léon Gambetta. As premier, Simon was involved in a governmental crisis in May, 1877; his refusal to accede to the president's demand for his resignation established the principle of parliamentary primacy and the responsibility of the premier to the legislature.

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