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De Lesseps, French Diplomat, Suez Canal
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Ferdinand Marie, Vicomte de Lesseps (1805-1894) was the French developer of the Suez Canal, which joined the Mediterranean and Red Seas in 1869, and substantially reduced sailing distances and times between the West and the East. In 1828 de Lesseps was sent as an assistant vice-consul to Tunis, where his father was consul-general. In 1832 de Lesseps was appointed vice-consul at Alexandria. He read a memoir by the civil engineer Jacques-Marie Le Père, one of the scientific members of Napoleon Bonaparte's French expedition. In it he described Napoleon's instructions for a Suez Canal. The idea stuck. In 1833 de Lesseps was sent as consul to Cairo, and soon afterwards given the management of the consulate general at Alexandria, a post that he held until 1837. From 1848 to 1849 he was minister of France at Madrid. In 1849 the government of the French Republic sent him to Rome to negotiate the return of Pope Pius IX to the Vatican. In 1851 De Lesseps then retired from the diplomatic service and never again occupied any public office.
March 6th, 2013
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