Say, (Jean-Baptiste) Léon (1826–1896)
French statesman, financier and economist, born in Paris in 1826; died there on 22 April 1896. He was the son of Horace Emile Say, the grandson of Jean-Baptiste Say, the nephew of Louis Auguste Say and Charles Comte. Léon Say became one of the most prominent statesmen of the French Third Republic. He served as Finance Minister from 1872 to 1879, and again in 1882, overseeing the largest financial operation of the century – payment of war reparations in Germany. His financial policies were directed towards a decrease in public expenditures and the removal of barriers to internal trade. A brilliant speaker and debater, he railed against socialism from the left and protectionism from the right. With Gambetta and Freycinet, he launched the ambitious programme of public works that bears the latter’s name. Upon leaving the Cabinet, Say returned to his seat in parliament, assuming the leadership of the free trade party. He was at one time considered for the presidency of the republic, but was gradually set apart from his constituency by a rising tide of radicalism.