Edouard Herriot, the son of an army officer, was born in Troyes, France on 5th July, 1872. After graduation he taught in Nantes and Lyons. A radical liberal, Herriot became mayor of Lyons in 1905.
During the First World War Herriot held ministerial office under Aristide Briand (December 1916-March 1917). Herriot was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1919. A great orator he soon became leader of the Radical Party.
During the dispute with President Alexandre Millerand, Herriot helped organize the Cartel des Gauches, a left-wing coalition of Radicals and Socialists. In the elections of June, 1924 the group won a majority of the seats and Herriot became the new prime minister.
One in power Herriot attempted to improve relations between the European powers. He recognized the Soviet Union, accepted the Dawes Plan and agreed to evacuate troops from the Ruhr. He also advocated the formation of a European Union.
Herriot lost power in April 1925 and a second ministry in July 1926 only lasted three days. He also served as minister of education under the premiership of Raymond Poincare.
Concerned by the emergence of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany, Leon Blum, Maurice Thorez, Edouard Daladier, Daniel Mayer formed the Popular Front in 1934. Parties involved in the agreement included the Communist Party, the Socialist Party and Herriot's Radical Party.
The parties involved in the Popular Front did well in the 1936 parliamentary elections and won a total of 376 seats. Leon Blum, leader of the Socialist Party, now become prime minister of France. Once in power the Popular Front government introduced the 40 hour week and other social reforms. It also nationalized the Bank of France and the armaments industry.
When the German Army invaded France in May 1940, Herriot originally supported Henri-Philippe Petain as head of the Vichy government. He then turned against Petain and argued that Charles De Gaulle should become the new prime minister.
Herriot was arrested by the Vichy authorities and handed over to the Germans. He was interned in Potsdam until liberated by the Red Army on 22nd April, 1945.
After the war Herriot was once again elected as mayor of Lyons. Between 1947 and his retirement in 1954, Herriot was president of the National Assembly. Edouard Herriot died in Lyons on 26th March, 1957.