Frédéric Passy


Frédéric Passy

Frédéric Passy (May 20, 1822-June 12, 1912) was born in Paris and lived there his entire life of ninety years. The tradition of the French civil service was strong in Passy’s family, his uncle, Hippolyte Passy (1793-1880), rising to become a cabinet minister under both Louis Philippe and Louis Napoleon. Educated as a lawyer, Frédéric Passy entered the civil service at the age of twenty-two as an accountant in the State Council, but left after three years to devote himself to systematic study of economics. He emerged as a theoretical economist in 1857 with his Mélanges économiques, a collection of essays he had published in the course of his research, and he secured his scholarly reputation with a series of lectures delivered in 1860-1861 at the University of Montpellier and later published in two volumes under the title Leçons d’économie politique. An admirer of Richard Cobden, he became an ardent free trader, believing that free trade would draw nations together as partners in a common enterprise, result in disarmament, and lead to the abandonment of war. Passy lectured on economic subjects in virtually every city and university of any consequence in France and continued a stream of publications on economic subjects, some of the more important being Les Machines et leur influence sur le développement de l’humanité (1866), Malthus et sa doctrine (1868), L’Histoire du travail (1873). Passy’s passionate belief in education found expression in De la propriété intellectuelle (1859) end La Démocratie et l’instruction (1864). For these contributions, among others, he was elected in 1877 to membership in the Académie de sciences morales et politiques, a unit of the Institut de France.

Passy was not, however, a cloistered scholar; he was a man of action. In 1867, encouraged by his leadership of public opinion in trying to avert possible war between France and Prussia over the Luxembourg question, he founded the «Ligue internationale et permanente de la paix». When the Ligue became a casualty of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, he reorganized it under the title «Société française des amis de la paix» which in turn gave way to the more specifically oriented «Société française pour l’arbitrage entre nations», established in 1889.

Passy carried on his efforts within the government as well. He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1881, again in 1885, and defeated in 1889. In the Chamber he supported legislation favorable to labor, especially an act relating to industrial accidents, opposed the colonial policy of the government, drafted a proposal for disarmament, and presented a resolution calling for arbitration of international disputes.

His parliamentary interest in arbitration was whetted by Randal Cremer‘s success in guiding through the British Parliament a resolution stipulating that England and the United States should refer to arbitration any disputes between them not settled by the normal methods of diplomacy. In 1888 Cremer headed a delegation of nine British members of Parliament who met in Paris with a delegation of twenty-four French deputies, headed by Passy, to discuss arbitration and to lay the groundwork for an organization to advance its acceptance. The next year, fifty-six French parliamentarians, twenty-eight British, and scattered representatives from the parliaments of Italy, Spain, Denmark, Hungary, Belgium, and the United States formed the Interparliamentary Union, with Passy as one of its three presidents. The Union, still in existence, established a headquarters to serve as a clearinghouse of ideas, and encouraged the formation of informal individual national parliamentary groups willing to support legislation leading to peace, especially through arbitration.

Passy’s thought and action had unity. International peace was the goal, arbitration of disputes in international politics and free trade in goods the means, the national units making up the Interparliamentary Union the initiating agents, the people the sovereign constituency.

Through his prodigious labors over a period of half a century in the peace movement, Passy became known as the «apostle of peace». He wrote unceasingly and vividly. His Pour la paix (1909), which came out when he was eighty-seven years old, is a personalized account – in lieu of an autobiography which he deplored – of his work for international peace, noting especially the founding of the Ligue, the «période décisive» when the Interparliamentary Union was established, the development of peace congresses, and the value of the Hague Conferences.

Passy was a renowned speaker, noted for the intellectual demands he made on his audiences, as well as for his powerful voice, his ample gestures, and his majestic and dignified manner.

Selected Bibliography
«Frédéric Passy», American Journal of International Law, 6 (October, 1912) 975-976.
Gide, Charles, «Obituary: Frédéric Passy (1822-1912)», The Economic Journal, 22 (September, 1912) 506-507.
Institut international de bibliographie, Répertoire bibliographique universel: Bibliographie des écrits de Frédéric Passy. Bruxelles, 1900.
Le Foyer, Lucien, «Un Grand Pacifiste», Le Monde illustré (29 juin 1912) 418.
Maza, Herbert, «Frédéric Passy: La Fondation de l’Union Interparlementaire», in Neuf meneurs internationaux, pp. 223-239. Paris, 1965.
Obituary, Le Figaro (13 juin 1912) 2.
Obituary, the (London) Times (June 13, 1912) II.
Passy, Frédéric. The Passy M S S are in the Library of the Peace Palace at The Hague.
Passy, Frédéric, «The Advance of the Peace Movement throughout the World», American Monthly Review of Reviews, 17 (February, 1898) 183-188. An English translation of the original article as it appeared in the Revue des revues.
Passy, Frédéric, La Démocratie et l’instruction: Discours d’ouverture des cours publics de Nice. Paris, Guillaumin, 1864.
Passy, Frédéric, Histoire du travail: Leçons faites aux soirées littéraires de la Sorbonne. Paris, 1873.
Passy, Frédéric, Leçons d’économie politique. Faites à Montpellier par M. F. Passy, 1860-1861. Recueillies par MM. E. Bertin et P. Glaize. Montpellier, Gras, 1861.
Passy, Frédéric, Les Machines et leur influence sur le développement de l’humanité. Paris , Hachette, 1866.
Passy, Frédéric, Mélanges économiques. Paris, Guillaumin, 1857.
Passy, Frédéric, «Peace Movement in Europe», American Journal of Sociology, 2 (July, 1896) 1-12.
Passy, Frédéric, Pour la paix: Notes et documents. Paris, Charpentier, 1909.
Passy, Frédéric, De la propriété intellectuelle. Études par MM. F. Passy, V. Modeste, et P. Paillottet. Paris, Guillaumin, 1859.
Passy, Frédéric, Sophismes et truismes. Paris, Giard & Brière, 1910.
Van Schilfgaarde, Waszkléwicz, «Frédéric Passy», in Mannen en vrouwen van beteekenis in onze dagen. Haarlem, Willink, 1900.

From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1901-1925, Editor Frederick W. Haberman, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1972

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