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MICHEL CHEVALIER PAPERS

Michel Chevalier (1806-79) was a French political economist and a strong proponent of free trade. Chevalier, trained as a mine engineer by trade, abandon his original profession to direct the journal, Le Globe, from 1830 to 1832, beginning a career as an economist and politician. He began work at the Ministry of Public Works in Paris in 1832 and was sent on a mission to the United States and then to Great Britain. In 1840 he was named "Conseiller d'Etat" and Professeur of Political Economics at the College de France. After losing both posts in the revolution of 1848, he was reinstated by the Prince-President Louis-Napoleon in 1852. After becoming the President of the Conseil General of Herault, he was named a Senator in 1860 by Napoleon III. At this point, Chevalier represented the Saint-Simoniens, a political faction which rallied around the Empire. Chevalier assigned to the state an important economic role, but he was also a strong supporter of free trade. He was the principle author of the Cobden-Chevalier Treaty between France and Great Britain which lowered French tariffs dramatically. The Treaty soon proved a failure because of antagonism between the two powers. Chevalier was the author of several publications, including Histoire et Description des Voies de Communication aux Etats-Unis (1840), Lettres sur l'Organisation du Travail (1848), La Liberte aux Etats-Unis (1849), Le Monopole et la Liberte (1867), and Les Brevets d'Invention (1878).

By 1870, interests in an isthmian canal in Central America were highly pursued by the British, United States and French Governments, but Michel Chevalier was one of the first to pursue concessions as an individual. In 1870, he made an agreement with Tomas Ayon, a Nicaraguan official, to gain a concession for a canal through that country along the San Juan River-Lake Nicaragua route. After political disarray in both countries soon afterwards, Chevalier lost his claim and attempted to regain it in 1875 and 1876 through appeals to Tomas Ayon, Manuel Peralta (a Costa Rican official) and Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, the President of the Republic of Nicaragua.

The material in this collection reflects the consultation Chevalier was requesting from a Minister, probably in Paris or a nearby capital, as to how he should approach Chamorro. This Minister was probably a Central American diplomat in Europe, possibly Peralta. The letter which Chevalier eventually sent to Chamorro is also in the collection. It seems clear that Chevalier's claims were so weak by the time of this correspondence that he would not receive his concession, which was rejected by the Nicaraguan Government rather quickly. It is of interest, also, that during this correspondence, the United States' Inter oceanic Canal Commission appointed by President Grant selected the Nicaraguan route as the most probable one, making the concession all the more valuable to Chevalier. Accession data: Purchased from Ginsburg, Catalogue 100, #62, October, 1991. Bulk dates: 1875 - 1876 Span dates: 1863 - 1876 Extent: .25 linear feet ACCESSION DATA: Purchased from Ginsburg, Catalogue 100, #62, October, 1991.
BULK DATES: 1875 - 1876
SPAN DATES: 1863 - 1876 EXTENT: 1 small box



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