Nobel Peace Prize Recipient. Frederic Passy receive world-wild notoriety as being the first person to be awarded the Nobel Prize in 1901, sharing it with Henry Dunant, who organized the International Committee of the Red Cross. According to the Nobel Prize committee, Passy received this coveted award for being the ”Founder and President of the first French peace society.” As an economist, pacifist, and politician, he created free commercial trade between the independent nations promoting peace. Dedicating 50 years of his life to obtaining world peace, he founded the first French Peace Society during the 1879 World Exhibition in Paris. Born in a Roman Catholic family of military veterans and politicians, he was trained to enter a career in law, yet became a government accountant for three years, but in 1849, changed his focus becoming an expert on economics and teaching and being a skillful lecturer on the subject. He became recognized as the “Apostle of European Peace Activists.” Since he did not swear an oath of allegiance to Napoleon, his career advancement was halted, yet was able to published at least a dozen books on his lectures given at various universities, and these books are still in print. In April of 1867, “Le Temps,” a Paris newspaper, published three letters attacking the action of the French concerning Luxembourg, with him writing one of the letters. An invitation to readers of this newspaper to join a “Peace League” was offered with several noted citizens replying including a Protestant minister, Roman Catholic priests, a Rabbi, several economist, politicians and expanding to 600 members within a few years, which multiplied the funding of the organization. With him in the lead, the group declared “war on war.” He said during the Franco-Prussian War, “that you only made war to defend yourself, not to attack.” His relationship with the Roman Catholic Church declined at this point. In 1877 he became a member of the French Academy of Moral and Political Sciences and was elected in 1881 the president of the French Association for the Advancement of Sciences. An independent republican leftist in the French Chamber of Deputies in 1881 and 1885, he was against the French colonial policy as it was not in accord with the ideas of free trade. While in parliament he supported labor reform, in particular legislation on industrial accidents. After having a small Paris meeting in 1888 with a few delegates and the English Member of Parliament William Randal Cremer, a larger and more successful meeting was held in London on June 30, 1889 with 83 French delegates, the English MPs, and eleven MPs from seven other countries. With this meeting, he became one of the founders of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an organization for cooperation between the elected representatives of different countries. In the 21st century, IPU has 179 delegates from around the world. He knew that education was at the top of priorities of achieving peace, hence he gave lessons on peace, writing books and offering essay contests to children nine to twelve years old. He pushed arbitration in conflict, was against the death penalty, and supported women's rights. Being frail with age, nearly blind, and chronically ill, he was unable attend the acceptance ceremony in Norway, yet he wrote an article to be release posthumously criticizing the giving of the monetary award as part of the Nobel Prize for work done in the name of peace. Each recipient received nearly $190,000.00. He took a bride from a wealthy, aristocratic family, and they had four children. Despite aging, he continued to thrive for peace after the 1901 Nobel Prize. When a conflict over the union between Sweden and Norway peaked in 1905, he declared that a peaceful solution would make him a hundred times happier than when he received the Nobel Prize, and he lived to see this peace. Before his death, a granddaughter, who was full of grief, jumped over the railing at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Although he was noted for his work in achieving peace, his plans for peace was never accepted by any government officials. In 1909 he published “For Peace,” which chronicled his work for international harmony. In 1927 Paul Passy, his son, published his memoirs, which are being translated into English and republished in the 21st Century. His funeral was simple and the service was led by his friend, Charles Wagner, a French Reform minister.
Bio by: Linda Davis