- NAME: Charles de Gaulle
- OCCUPATION: Military Leader, World Leader
- BIRTH DATE: November 22, 1890
- DEATH DATE: November 09, 1970
- EDUCATION: Military Academy of Saint-Cyr
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Lille, France
- PLACE OF DEATH: Colombey-les-deux-Églises, France
- Full Name: Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle
- Full Name: Charles de Gaulle
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Charles de Gaulle rose from French soldier in World War I to exiled leader and, eventually, president of the Fifth Republic. He served as president from 1959 to 1969.
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From London, de Gaulle broadcast a message across the English Channel to his countrymen, calling for them to resist the German occupation. He also organized soldiers from French colonies to fight alongside the allied troops.
De Gaulle sometimes irritated other allied leaders with his demands and perceived arrogance. American President Franklin D. Roosevelt reportedly could not stand him. In fact, at the war's end,
de Gaulle was purposely left out of the Yalta Conference, as Germany negotiated its surrender. He did, however, secure his nation an occupation zone in Germany and a seat on the United Nation's Security Council. De Gaulle enjoyed wide support at home and, in 1945, became president of France's provisional government. In a dispute over greater power for the country's executive branch, de Gaulle resigned this post.
For several years, de Gaulle led his own political movement, "Rally for the French People," which did not gain much momentum. He retired from politics in 1953.
The French government, known as the Fourth Republic, began to crumble in the late 1950s, and de Gaulle once again returned to public service to help his country. He helped form the country's next government, becoming its president in January 1959. Establishing France's Fifth Republic, de Gaulle dedicated himself to improving the country's economic situation and maintaining its independence. He sought to keep France separate from the two superpowers—the United States and the Soviet Union. To show France's military relevance, de Gaulle successfully campaigned for the country to press on with its nuclear weapons program.
De Gaulle was not afraid to make controversial decisions. After coping with uprisings in Algeria for years, he helped the French colony achieve independence in 1962. This move was not widely popular at the time. De Gaulle supported the idea of a united Europe, but he wanted Europe to be free from the superpowers' influences. He fought to keep Britain out of the European Economic Community because of its close ties to the United States. In 1966, de Gaulle also pulled his country's forces out of the North American Treaty Organization, acting again on his concerns with the United States. To some, de Gaulle came off as anti-American. Though he may have been, to some extent, his actions seemed to truly reflected his deep nationalistic views.
Sometimes inflexible and intractable, de Gaulle nearly saw his government toppled by student and worker protests in 1968. He managed to restore order to the country, but left power soon after, following a battle over political and economic reforms. In April 1969, de Gaulle resigned from the presidency.
After his resignation, de Gaulle retired to his home in Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises. He had little time to enjoy the quiet life of this village, as he died of a heart attack on November 9, 1970. French President George Pompidou, who had worked closely with de Gaulle before succeeding him, delivered the terrible news to the public, saying "General de Gaulle is dead.
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