Lesseps, Ferdinand de

(1805–1894)
   A French engineer and entrepreneur, born to a family of career diplomats, Lesseps was fascinated both by the culture of Egypt and by the patterns of commercial trade between East and West. It was after his retirement from the diplomatic service that Lesseps, encouraged by the accession to the viceroyalty of Egypt of Said Pasha in 1854, revived the Napoleonic idea of a canal connecting Mediterranean and Red Seas across the Isthmus of Suez. Despite the initial skepticism of British investors and the open hostility of the British government, Lesseps secured suf-ficient financial backing from France to begin digging in 1857. The Suez Canal opened in 1869.
   Fired by extraordinary self-confidence and influenced by the social ideas of the Saint-Simonians, Lesseps turned from his Suez triumph to the more ambitious and difficult project of a canal across the Isthmus of Panama in 1875. Riding the Suez reputation of Le Grand Français bestowed on him by Léon Gambetta, Lesseps appealed to small investors to raise capital but grossly underestimated the cost of the Panama project. Work began in 1881, but, when little progress was made over the following eight years, falling stock values and corruption precipitated the Panama Scandal. Lesseps and his son Charles were found guilty of mismanagement and sentenced to a lengthy imprisonment. Charles alone served one year. After his death at 89, Lesseps’s reputation was rehabilitated with an array of posthumous national honors.
   See also <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Beatty, Charles. Lesseps of Suez: The Man and His Times. New York: Harper Brothers, 1956;
    Karabell, Zachary. Parting the Desert: The Creation of the Suez Canal. New York: Random House, 2003.
   CARL CAVANAGH HODGE

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Lesseps, Ferdinand de — SUBJECT AREA: Canals [br] b. 19 November 1805 Versailles, France d. 7 December 1894 La Chesnaye, near Paris, France [br] French diplomat and canal entrepreneur. [br] Ferdinand de Lesseps was born into a family in the diplomatic service and it was …   Biographical history of technology

  • Lesseps, Ferdinand de — ► (1805 94) Administrador y diplomático francés. Construyó el canal de Suez en 1869, entre el mar Mediterráneo y el Mar Rojo. A raíz de esta construcción, decidió repetir su obra con la constitución de la Compañía del Canal de Panamá …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • LESSEPS, FERDINAND DE —    French diplomatist, born at Versailles; conceived the scheme of connecting the Red Sea with the Mediterranean in 1854, and saw it finished as the Suez Canal in 1869; projected a similar scheme for a canal at Panama, but it ended in failure,… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Lesseps, Ferdinand de — (1805 1894)    Eminent French engineer.    Index: Ch Undertakes Panama Canal, 6.    Bib.: Chambers, Biog. Dict …   The makers of Canada

  • Lesseps, Ferdinand, vicomte de — ▪ French diplomat in full  Ferdinand marie, Vicomte De Lesseps   born Nov. 19, 1805, Versailles, France died Dec. 7, 1894, La Chenaie, near Guilly  French diplomat famous for building the Suez Canal across the Isthmus of Suez (1859–69) in Egypt.… …   Universalium

  • Lesseps, Ferdinand-Marie, viscount de — (1805 1894)    diplomat, administrator    Born in Versailles, the son of a diplomat, Ferdinand Marie, viscount de Lesseps, entered the consular service in 1825 and held many diplomatic posts. While assistant vice consul in Cairo and Alexandria,… …   France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present

  • Lesseps, Ferdinand (-Marie), vizconde de — (19 nov. 1805, Versalles, Francia–7 dic. 1894, La Chenaie, cerca de Guilly). Diplomático francés, constructor del canal de Suez. Durante su carrera diplomática, cumplió funciones en Egipto y en otros países hasta 1849. En 1854 fue autorizado por… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Lesseps, Ferdinand (-Marie), viscount de — born Nov. 19, 1805, Versailles, France died Dec. 7, 1894, La Chenaie, near Guilly French diplomat, builder of the Suez Canal. A career diplomat, he held posts in Egypt and elsewhere until 1849. In 1854 he was authorized by the viceroy of Egypt to …   Universalium

  • Lesseps, Ferdinand Marie, Vicomte de —  (1805–1894) French engineer closely associated with the Suez Canal. On second reference, de Lesseps …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • Lesseps — Lesseps, Ferdinand de …   Enciclopedia Universal


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.