Villeneuve-Bargemont, Jean Paul Alban de
VILLENEUVE-BARGEMONT, JEAN PAUL ALBAN DE
A forerunner of the Catholic social movement in France; b. Saint-Auban (Var), Aug. 8, 1784; d. Paris, June 8, 1850. After having participated in the prefectorial administration of the Empire and the Restoration, he became councilor of state in 1828, but in 1830 he refused to take the oath to the government of Louis-Philippe. He was a deputy in 1830 and 1831 and from 1840 to 1848 held a seat among the legitimists. In 1832 when the Duchess of Berri was planning to land in Provence, he accepted from her the commission of royal commissary in the Var, but he soon returned to Paris to devote himself chiefly to studies in political economy. In 1848 he was appointed a member of the Académie des Sciences Morales. He was impressed with the importance of the social
question when he visited Lille, where the 32,000 paupers constituted nearly half the population of the city. The idea of combating pauperism was thenceforth in his mind. As a deputy he was one of the foremost authors of the law of 1841 limiting child labor; this law, for the first time in France, embodied the principle of legal protection for laborers. He was instrumental in securing the amendment of the fiscal law of 1847 to dispense the marriage of the poor and the legitimation of their children from stamp taxes and registration fees. As an economist he stood apart from the classical school represented by Adam smith and Jean Baptiste Say, whom he regarded as materialists. He considered that political economy should be concerned less with the production of wealth than with its distribution and the general diffusion of well-being, and he believed that the state ought to intervene to protect the weak against the "new feudalism of patrons." In his Livre des affliges (Paris 1841) he depicted a bishop complaining with equal bitterness of industrial proprietors who thought only of increasing their gains and of legislators who were concerned solely with enacting penal prohibitions against labor organizations. He held to the concept of a "vital and family salary" sufficient to sustain both the workman and his family, and he believed that an employer should receive a profit only after the payment of this salary. Among other writings in which his ideas are set forth are the Économie politique chrétienne, ou recherches sur la nature et les causes du paupérisme en France et en Europe, et sur les moyens de le soulager et de le prévenir (Paris 1834); Histoire de l'économie politique, ou Études historiques, philosophiques et religieuses sur l'économie politique des peuples anciens et modernes (Paris 1841).
Bibliography: m. i. ring, Villeneuve-Bargemont: Catholic Social Protagonist (Milwaukee 1935). a. thÉry, Un Précurseur du catholicisme social: Le Vicomte de Villeneuve-Bargemont (Lille 1911).
[c. j. nuesse]