The Oceanic Lobby in Paris

  • Robert Aldrich


The current historiography of French colonialism stresses the work of individuals and groups in the establishment, extension and development of the colonies. The creation of an empire was far from universally popular in nineteenth-century France, but a constellation of different interests worked for the conquest of overseas domains — missionaries and military officers, traders and scientists, settlers and politicians. Initially they were lone voices, but gradually the interests came together in a colonial lobby, the parti colonial. The adherents, grouped in various committees, institutes and other organisations, issued periodicals, held meetings and persuaded legislators. Their work was so successful that, eventually, they became a major pressure group on the French government and, as well, stirred up genuine popular enthusiasm for the empire. The origins and actions of the lobby say much about the interests involved in the colonies and the profits they hoped to gain, and its presentation of the colonies — its propaganda — indicates the perceived uses of overseas possessions. But criticisms of French colonial policy, many of which came from within the colonial lobby, can also indicate to what extent the realities matched up with the ideals. Taken together, the opinions show how the empire was a question of ideologies and expectations as well as men and money.1


Shipping Line Port Facility Panama Canal French Colonial Society Island 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    On the colonial lobby, see Charles-Robert Ageron, France coloniale ou parti colonial? (Paris, 1978)Google Scholar
  2. Raoul Girardet, L’idée coloniale en France (Paris, 1978) andGoogle Scholar
  3. Stuart Michael Persell, The Colonial Lobby in France, 1889–1938 (Stanford, 1983).Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    Quoted in Edward T. Perkins, Na Motu: Reef-Rovings in the South Seas (New York, 1854), p. 423.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Vincendon-Dumoulin and C. Desgraz, Iles Taïti. Esquisse historique et géographique précedée de considérations générales sur la colonisation française dans l’Océanie (Paris, 1844).Google Scholar
  6. 13.
    Paul Gauffarel, Les Colonies françaises (Paris, 1899), pp. 505, 509.Google Scholar
  7. 14.
    Charles Lemire, Les Intérêts français dans le Pacifique: Tahiti — Nouvel-les-Hébrides — Canal de Panama (Paris, 1904), andGoogle Scholar
  8. ‘La Transformation de l’Océanie et nos intérêts dans le Pacifique’, Bulletin mensuel de la Société de géographie commerciale de Paris 18 (1906), pp. 313–27.Google Scholar
  9. 15.
    Henri Baré, Les Colonies françaises au début du vingtième siècle, Vol. III (Marseille, 1906), p. 281.Google Scholar
  10. 16.
    Union agricole calédonienne, Notice sur la Nouvelle-Calédonie (Paris, 1900), pp. viii–ix.Google Scholar
  11. 34.
    See C.M. Andrew and A.S. Kanya-Forstner, ‘The French “Colonial Party”: Its Composition, Aims and Influence, 1885–1915’, Historical Journal 14 (1971), pp. 99–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 38.
    G. Regelsperger, E. Pelleray and G. Froment-Guieysse, Notre domaine colonial: T. X. L’Océanie française (Paris, 1922);Google Scholar
  13. Louis Cros, Nouvelle-Calédonie et Tahiti pour tous (Paris, 1925).Google Scholar
  14. 84.
    Albert Sarraut, La Mise en valeur des colonies françaises (Paris, 1923).Google Scholar
  15. 85.
    Michalina Vaughan, ‘Assimilation versus Association: Separate Recipes for Failure’, Modern and Contemporary France, No. 21 (1985), pp. 3–8.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Robert Aldrich 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Aldrich
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SydneyAustralia

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