Frédéric Passy

Economist

1901 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

1822-1912

Frédéric Passy was born in Paris and lived there his entire life. The tradition of the French civil service was strong in Passy's family with his uncle, Hippolyte Passy, 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 the systematic study of economics. Both as an economist and as a politician, he maintained that free trade between independent nations promoted peace. Passy founded the first French Peace Society, which held a congress in Paris during the 1878 World Exhibition. As an independent leftist republican in the French Chamber of Deputies, he opposed France's colonial policy because it did not accord with the ideals of free trade.

Passy was also one of the founders of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an organisation for cooperation between the elected representatives of different countries. Through his prodigious labours over a period of a half-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 personalised 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 Inter-Parliamentary Union was established, the development of peace congresses, and the value of the Hague Conference.