The Daniel Wilsons in France, 1819–1919
Industry, the Arts, the Press, Châteaux, the Elysée Palace, and Scandal
Scottish engineer Daniel Wilson (1790–1849) helped launch the industrial revolution in France and acquired a major art collection. His daughter, Marguerite (1836–1902), restored the château de Chenonceau, near the Loire Valley. His son, Daniel (1840–1919), close to Marguerite, became an MP, founded a newspaper chain, rose to become a leading republican politician, and married the daughter of President of the Republic Jules Grévy. The younger Daniel Wilson’s business activities and news strategies offended many and prompted his involvement in a scandal (the sale of the Legion of Honour decoration) that led to his downfall and that of President Grévy. Wilson’s name became and remains synonymous with political corruption. This book is the first to examine the nexus of political and press connections in early republican France from his viewpoint. The struggle for press freedom since the 1789 Revolution culminating in the 1881 Press Law is assessed by considering the stance of Wilson, Grévy, and the leading press magnate Emile de Girardin and other press tycoons. The flamboyant Marguerite, who hosted Gustave Flaubert in Chenonceau and journeyed to India, colours the saga.
Table of Contents
1. The First Daniel Wilson (1790–1849): The Industrial Revolution, the Rise of a Scot in France, and the Youth of His Children (1836–1864)
2. The History of Le Château de Chenonceau
3. Restoring Chenonceau and Launching a Career: Wilson's First Newspaper Involvement and Election Campaign
4. Politics in Paris, 1869: Daniel and Marguerite Meet Jules Grévy
5. Tumultuous Years, 1870–1871: German Invasion, "Tours Capitale," Parisian Uprising, "la Commune," and a New National Assembly – Daniel, Marguerite and Grévy
6. 1870s – A Trio Ascendant: Grévy, a Prominent Republican Presiding the National Assembly; Wilson, Young Parliamentarian and News Entrepreneur; Marguerite, la Châtelaine; and Gustave Flaubert
7. The Press: Structure, Finance and Politics – A Long-Term View, 1789–1881
8. Grévy, President of the Republic; Wilson Privileged Politician and Pressman – "Missus Dominicus Plus"
9. Wilson in the Élysée, Press Baron and Political News Manipulator; the Legion of Honour and Clientelism
10. Summer of 1887: The Press, Politics, and Crime Stories – The Lull Before the Storm?
11: The Wilson Affair: Two Months of Political and Journalistic Mayhem – "Ah! quel malheur d’avoir un gendre!"
12. Wilson on Trial (February–March 1888): The Aftermath for the Grévy–Wilsons
Genesis and Final Thoughts
Michael B. Palmer is Professor Emeritus at Université Sorbonne Nouvelle—Paris 3 and author and co-author of 12 books, including the Routledge title Media Moguls.