Ferdinand de Lesseps

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The French diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps is best known for building the Suez Canal. The canal, which connected the Mediterranean and the Red Seas, made it much easier to sail between Europe and East Asia and shortened the time it took to get there. This, in turn, led to a huge increase in world trade, which was a big part of how Europe took over more of Africa. Ferdinand de Lesseps was born in France. His father was a French Consul, and he came from a family of well-known French diplomats. Following in his father’s footsteps, he also became a diplomat and was given the position of vice-consul in Alexandria, Egypt. There, he looked at the survey report of Jacques-Marie Le Père, a civil engineer who had been with Napoleon Bonaparte on his campaign in this country. Le Pere had told de Lesseps about an abandoned Suez Canal project, which got his mind going. He decided to build a canal through the middle of Africa. He couldn’t start working on this plan right away, but after a few years, he was able to make his dream come true. After 10 years of hard work, the Suez Canal finally opened in 1869. It almost immediately changed the way international trade was done. After the canal was successful, De Lesseps became a very well-known person and was given many awards and honors for his work.

Early years and childhood

On November 19, 1805, Ferdinand de Lesseps was born in Versailles, Yvelines. His father, Mathieu de Lesseps, was a diplomat, and his mother, Catherine de Grévigné, was Henri de Greevigné’s daughter. He had three brothers and one sister.

When Ferdinand was a little boy, his father worked in Italy, so that’s where he grew up. He went to school in Paris at the College of Henry IV.

Ferdinand de Lesseps’s Career

When he turned 18, he got his first job. His first job was in the army, where he worked for two years in the commissary.
In 1825, his uncle, Barthélemy de Lesseps, who was the French chargé d’affaires in Lisbon, made him the assistant vice-consul there. In 1828, as an assistant vice-consul, he went to Tunis.

In 1832, he was given the job of vice-consul in Alexandria, Egypt. The ship he was on was quarantined for a while, and during that time, the French consul-general in Alexandria sent him a few books.

The civil engineer for Napoleon Bonaparte, Jacques-Marie Le Père, wrote one of these books. It was a memoir about an old Suez Canal that had been left unfinished. This work interested De Lesseps so much that he thought of building a canal across the African isthmus.

In 1833, he was given the job of running the general consulate in Alexandria. He stayed in this job until 1837. During this time, he lived through a plague epidemic that killed more than a third of the people who lived in Cairo and Alexandria. He went back to France at the end of 1837.

In 1839, he was given the job of consul at Rotterdam. In 1842, after being sent to Malaga and then Barcelona, he was given the title of the consul general.
In 1854, he found out that an old friend of his, Said Pasha, had been named Viceroy of Egypt. Now that de Lesseps was done with his diplomatic work, he thought it was time to do something about the Suez Canal.

He went to Alexandria to see Pasha, and on November 30, 1854, Said Pasha gave him permission to build the Suez Canal. He told two French engineers to come up with a first plan that would connect the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. In 1856, an international group of engineers went along with a slightly changed version of the plan.

At first, it was hard for him to get enough money for the project, but in the end, he was able to get money from the French emperor Napoleon III and other people. He also talked to the French people and got them to help raise the money that was needed. In 1858, he started the Universal Suez Ship Canal Company with the money he had raised. This was the company that would build the Suez Canal.

Work on the Suez Canal started in April 1859, and it took ten long years to finish. The canal opened on November 17, 1869. Empress Eugénie was there to open it. The canal changed the way trade went around the world and made de Lesseps a very well-known person.

In 1879, an international meeting was held in Paris, where a vote was taken in favor of building a canal through Panama. De Lesseps, who was 74 at the time, agreed to do the project even though he was getting old. But there were so many problems and scandals with this project that he couldn’t finish it in his lifetime. It was finally finished in 1914.

A Big Job

The Suez Canal, which connects the Mediterranean and Red Seas, is without a doubt De Lesseps’ most famous project. The canal cut the distance between Europe and East Asia by a lot, which made it much faster and cheaper to travel between the two places by boat. When the canal opened, trade around the world went up quickly, and it was a big reason why Europe took over Africa.

Awards & Achievements

In 1870, the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) gave Ferdinand de Lesseps the Albert Medal “for services rendered to Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, by realizing the Suez Canal.”
He also got the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor and the Star of India, among other awards.

Personal History and Legacies

In 1837, he married Mlle Agathe Delamalle, who was the daughter of the prosecutor for the government at the court of Anger. Five children came from this marriage. Agathe died in 1853, which was too bad.

In 1869, he married Mlle Louise-Hélène Autard de Bragard, the daughter of a former Magistrate of Mauritius named Gustave Adolphe Autard de Bragard. From this marriage, he had 12 more children.
Ferdinand De Lesseps died on December 7, 1894, at the age of 89 at Chateau de La Chesnaye in Guilly, Vatan, Indre.

Estimated Net worth

Count Alexandre de Lesseps, who was born in France and works as an investment banker, is worth $50 million. Most of this net worth came from his rise to power from the famous architect Ferdinand de Lesseps, who built the Suez Canal.

Ferdinand de Lesseps also worked hard to get a sea-level Panama Canal built, but Yellow Fever and Malaria destroyed this project.