French progressive educator and pacifist. Ferdinand Buisson was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1927 with German politician Ludwig Quiddefor being ‘the world's most persistent pacifist’.
For his ardent pacifism, socialism, and anticlerical views he was attacked from all sides throughout his life and once forced from public office by political slander. He worked consistently for the reconciliation of nations and as an educationalist his work was vital to the modernization of French primary education.
Buisson is remembered particularly for his support for universal suffrage. He served in French governmental and international positions until 1926. He helped to found the peace organization, La Ligue Internationale de la Paix et de la Liberté in 1867, and the human rights organization, La Ligue des Droits des Hommes in 1898 of which he became president in 1913. Among his many publications he wrote Christianisme libéral/Liberal Christianity (1856) and educational books such as the four-volume Dictionnaire de pe(acute)dagogie et d'instruction primaire (1878–87).
Buisson was born in Paris, France, into a Protestant family and left school at age 16 to support the family after the death of his father. He eventually gained an undergraduate degree from the University of Paris and a licence to teach philosophy. Unwilling to swear allegiance to the emperor (therefore unable to get a job in France) he became an expatriate professor at the Acadamie of Neuchatel in Switzerland from 1866 to 1870. After the defeat of Napoleon III he returned to Paris and took up several educational positions including inspector (his espousal of secular education led to accusations of disrespect for the Bible and he was forced to resign this post) and then director of primary education between 1870 and 1896. He also achieved a PhD in literature from Paris in 1892. From 1896 to 1902 he was professor of education at the Sorbonne, Paris.