Even before the colonial expansion of the Third Republic, the question of forming a separate Ministry of the Colonies had already been raised. The creation of this ministry had been delayed for a long time due to the existence of an undersecretary for Colonial Affairs. The project of determining the duties and limits of a new ministry covering colonial issues in their entirety became a constitutional necessity in the early 1890s. Despite hesitations in the Senate, the parliamentary deputies of the “parti colonial” under the leadership of Eugène Etienne, the “pope of the colonialists,” organized themselves to create this indispensible ministry. However, the Ministry of Colonies appeared to be a “rump ministry” in its early years, due to the heavy influence of the “parti colonial” and the lack of a definitive settlement of the structure and role of the colonial army.

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