S Severiano de Heredia
Severiano de Heredia
Severiano de Heredia.jpg
Paris municipal council
April 1873 – 1881
Deputy of the National Assembly
21 August 1881 – 11 November 1889
Born November 8, 1836
Died February 9, 1901 (aged 64)
Resting place Batignolles Cemetery, Paris, France
Citizenship Spanish, French
Political party Republican Union (1881–1885)
Radical Left (1885–1889)
Severiano de Heredia (8 November 1836 – 9 February 1901) was a Cuban-born biracial politician, a freemason, a left-wing republican, naturalized as French in 1870, who was president of the municipal council of Paris from 1 August 1879 to 12 February 1880, making him the first mayor of African descent of a Western world capital. He served in the Chamber of Deputies from 1881 to 1889 and was minister of public works for the cabinet of Maurice Rouvier in 1887, where he planned and oversaw the construction of some of the finest French highways. He also made his reputation by campaigning for the abolition of slavery in Cuba and Brazil. He is believed to be a cousin of the famous French poet José-Maria de Heredia.
Severiano de Heredia was born in Havana, Cuba, to Henri de Heredia and Beatrice Cardenas. At the age of 10 he was sent by his godfather, Heredia y Campuzano, to France for his education, attending the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris. He applied for French citizenship which was granted under the Ministerial Decree of 28 September 1870.
He married at Paris, 3 November 1868, Henriette Hanaire, by whom he had a son in 1869, Henri-Ignace, and a daughter in 1873, Marcelle. His son tragically died in an accident at Wimereux at the age of twelve and was buried at Cimetière des Batignolles on 4 September 1882. His daughter studied at the Paris Medical School, became a notable neurophysiologist and formed a team with her husband, the neurophysiologist Louis Lapicque.
In 1871, while he was assuming the role of a conciliator, he published a political essay entitled Paix et plébiscite (Peace and referendum) in which he pleaded for a democratic end to the Franco-Prussian war.
He entered politics as a radical Republican and was elected in April 1873 to be a member of the City Council of Paris, for the Ternes and Plaine-de-Monceaux neighborhoods[note 1]. In 1879, he was elected president of the municipal council of Paris, and in August 1881 member to the Chamber of Deputies, where he stayed until he was defeated at the election of 1889 by a Boulangist opponent. On 30 May 1887, he was appointed Minister of Public Works in the government of Maurice Bouvier, until 11 December 1887. On retiring from politics he devoted himself to the history of literature.
Severiano de Heredia was also an active Freemason. Initiated in 1866 in the “Étoile polaire”[note 2] lodge of Paris, he became Worshipfull Master of his lodge, and then Deputy of Grand Orient of France in 1875, and President of the Masonic Orphanage. Within this framework, Severiano de Heredia took part to the first French Congress for Women's Rights in 1878, as a French representative of the intended Committee of Initiative, at the Masonic Grand Orient.
He died at his home in Paris on 9 February 1901.
In 2013, historian Paul Estrade researched Severiano de Heredia's life and found no remaining public recognition for his career. In 2015, a walkway in front of a new building in the 17th arrondissement of Paris was named rue Severiano de Heredia. In the naming ceremony, the then mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, spoke:
“ The first black mayor of Paris and then minister of the French Republic was rejected and relegated for a long time among the forgotten of history. We are here to correct this guilty oversight. ”
— Anne Hidalgo, [note 3]
L'appel au peuple : Paix ou guerre ? (1870)
Faisons la paix (1871)
Paix et plébiscite (1871)
Société des écoles laïques... Appel aux habitants du 17e arrondissement (1873)