March 28, 1862 – Birthdate of Aristide Briand, French politician, Prime Minister of France, Nobel Prize laureate.
At the same time he was prominent in the movement for the formation of trade unions, and at the congress of working men at Nantes in 1894 he secured the adoption of the labor union idea against the adherents of Jules Guesde. From that time, Briand was one of the leaders of the French Socialist Party. In 1902, after several unsuccessful attempts, he was elected deputy. He declared himself a strong partisan of the union of the Left in what was known as the Bloc, in order to check the reactionary Deputies of the Right.
From the beginning of his career in the Chamber of Deputies, Briand was occupied with the question of the separation of church and state. He was appointed reporter of the commission charged with the preparation of the 1905 law on separation, and his masterly report at once marked him out as one of the coming leaders. He succeeded in carrying his project through with but slight modifications, and without dividing the parties upon whose support he relied.
He was the principal author of the law of separation, but, not content with preparing it, he wished to apply it as well. The ministry of Maurice Rouvier was allowing disturbances during the taking of inventories of church property, a clause of the law for which Briand was not responsible. Consequently, he accepted the portfolio of Public Instruction and Worship in the Sarrien ministry (1906). So far as the Chamber was concerned, his success was complete. But the acceptance of a position in a bourgeois ministry led to his exclusion from the Unified Socialist Party (March 1906). As opposed to Jaurès, he contended that the Socialists should co-operate actively with the Radicals in all matters of reform, and not stand aloof to await the complete fulfillment of their ideals.
France issued a 30 centimes stamp in 1933 (Scott No. 291) with a portrait of Briand: