The New Student's Reference Work/Necker, Jacques

Neck′er, Jacques, a financier and minister of France, was born at Geneva, Sept. 30, 1732.  At 15 he went to Paris as a bank-clerk, and in 1762 founded the London and Paris Bank of Thellusson and Necker.  He entered public life as a syndic of the French East India Company and minister of the republic of Geneva at Paris, and about this time married.  In 1773 he received the French Academy prize for a eulogy on Colbert, and won great recognition by his Essai sur le Commerce des Grains in 1775.  This was an answer to the free-trade arguments of Turgot.  After having loaned some money to the government, he was made director of the treasury in 1776 and director-general of finance in 1777.  For five years he labored to improve the financial condition of France by readjusting the taxes, establishing state-guaranteed annuities and the present system of government pawnshops.  His methods displeased the queen, however, and his publication of the Compte Rendu, a statement of the financial condition of France, in 1781, was made the cause of his dismissal. He thereupon withdrew to Geneva, but returned in 1787 and defended his Compte Rendu, for which he was banished from Paris.  He was recalled to his office in September, 1788, but, while winning popularity through recommending the summoning of the states-general, he proved wholly incompetent during the storms of the Revolution.  He declined the aid of Lafayette and Mirabeau, and on July 11, 1789, was ordered to leave France, but after the fall of the Bastille, three days later, he was recalled, only to resign voluntarily in September, 1790.  He retired to his estate near Geneva, and died there on April 9, 1804.  See The Private Life of M. Necker by Madame de Stael, his famous daughter.