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Carnot, Lazare Hippolyte (1801-1888)

Carnot, Lazare Hippolyte (1801-1888), minister of education in 1848, born at St. Omer, April 6, 1801, the son of Lazare Carnot, known as "organizer of victory" and "Le Grand Carnot" during the First Republic.

Carnot founded the short-lived Ecole d'administration, intended to prepare governmental administrators, sponsored adult evening classes and small libraries, introduced the Lancastrian method in many schools, and increased the salaries of school teachers, whom he expected to teach children the virtues of democratic republicanism. His most famous and far-reaching "project of law" was that submitted to the Assembly on June 30. It was supplanted the Falloux Law of 1850, but many of Carnot's proposals became law later. Articles 2 and 6 respectively would have made primary schooling for both sexes obligatory, so that citizens could properly exercise universal suffrage, and without charge, in order to abolish distinctions between rich and poor within public institutions. The curriculum would be expanded. Teachers would receive three years of training in a normal school without fee, though they would be obligated to teach for ten years, and be guaranteed a minimum wage of 600 to 1200 francs for men, 500 to 1000 francs for women. Minimum wages for teachers were set in the Falloux law of 1850 and free obligatory education was established in the Ferry laws of 1880. In one significant manner, the Carnot project differed from the Ferry laws. Despite his exhortations to teachers to prepare republican catechisms, Carnot did not intend for schooling to be exclusively lay or the monopoly of the state. Carnot's project included a provision for the liberty of education.

Defeated in the parliamentary elections of 1849, Carnot regained a seat in a by-election in 1850 and was one of the deputies who opposed the coup d'état of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte on December 2, 1851. He abandoned his seat after refusing to take the oath of loyalty to Louis-Napoleon. He died, a senator, in Paris on March 16, 1888.

Patrick J. Harrigan


Carnot, H. Le Ministére de l'instruction publique et des cultes (Paris, 1848).

Moody, Joseph. French Education Since Napoleon (Syracuse, N.Y., 1979).

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