Publisher, Author and Political Activist
(October 12, 1860 - July 21, 1931)
Émile Pouget was born an activist in the South of France. His father died when he was young. His mother re-married to a petty official who lost his job due to a strong opinion in a local newspaper. Pouget took to the trade and published his first paper in high school, The Republican Student. According to one biographer, his teachers were less than pleased with his extracurricular activity.
Pouget's activism manifested in deeds soon after he graduated. In 1879, he joined a trade union which he convinced to help finance his anti-militarist pamphlets. Two years later, in 1881, he joined a group of anarchists after the founding conference of the Second International.
The business cycle proved particularly hostile to working people in the winter of 1882-1883. Unemployment was particularly high. In March 1883, the size of a trade union rally were swollen by large numbers of unemployed. Words inspired deeds and the rally turned violent. Pouget marched with a group that raced down Boulevard Saint-Germain. Many were hungry and they stripped a bakery bare. Police clashed with protesters. When Louise Michel was snagged by police, Pouget tried to free her. There's nothing a man won't do for a pretty girl. He was arrested and sentenced to eight years in prison.
Émile Pouget served three years of an eight year sentence for armed pillaging. A few years after his eyes adjusted to sunlight, he founded a newspaper that would put him at constant odds with authorities. On February 24, 1889 he published the first edition of Le Père Peinard, or Father Peinard.
The newspaper called for direct action against the political and economic systems that it found exploitive. Its harshest criticisms were reserved for military and clergy, the chief enemies of the anarchist movement. Father Peinard was particularly vocal in its calls for action. As a result, it was always under intense scrutiny.
In 1893, the Third Republic passed the "rogue laws" in an effort to quell anarchist violence. The laws made it a crime to incite violence and crimes against property with propaganda. Father Peinard was frequently prosecuted and its managers were often fined and sometimes imprisoned. Hermann-Paul was a frequent contributer.
It is unclear to what extent Hermann-Paul was sympathetic with anarchist causes. As outspoken Dreyfusard, he was certainly allied with the political left. He certainly didn't contribute to Father Peinard for significant financial gain. The newspaper had very little money and contributors often supplied copy for free. Recognition is nice, but this newspaper provided the kind that could place a contributor in jail. It's probably safe to say that Hermann-Paul was sympathetic to the cause.