Senghor, Leopold

Senegal’s 1st President, 1st African member of the Academie Francaise, renowned poet and cultural theorist

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Description:
(1906-2001) Senegalese poet, politician, and cultural theorist, 1st president of Senegal (1960–1980). He was the first African elected as a member of the Académie française. Before independence, he founded the Senegalese Democratic Bloc political party. He is regarded by many as one of the most important African intellectuals of the 20th century. Senghor was born in the city of Joal, south of Dakar and was awarded a scholarship to continue his studies in France and in 1928 he sailed for France, beginning in his words, "sixteen years of wandering." He graduated from the University of Paris, and was a professor at the universities of Tours and Paris 1935–45. Senghor and other intellectuals of the African diaspora who had come to study in the colonial capital, coined the term and conceived the notion of "négritude", a response to the racism still prevalent in France. It became a guiding principle for his political thought in his career as a statesman. In 1940, he was taken prisoner by the Germans and was interned in different camps, finally at Front Stalag 230, in Poitiers, reserved for colonial troops captured during the war. Senghor spent 2 years in different prison camps, where he spent most of his time writing poems. In 1942 he was released for medical reasons and resumed teaching while remaining involved in the Resistance. After the war, he was selected as Dean of the Linguistics Department of the École Nationale de la France d'Outre-Mer, a position he held until Senegal's independence in 1960. He became a Deputy for Sénégal-Mauritanie, when colonies were granted the right to be represented by elected individuals. In 1947, he co-founded the Bloc démocratique sénégalais (1948). Re-elected deputy in 1951 as an independent overseas member, Senghor was appointed state secretary to the Council president in Faure's government 1955-56. He became mayor of Thiès, Senegal in November 1956 and then advisory minister in the Debre' government 1959-61. He was also a member of the commission that drafted the Fifth Republic's constitution, general councilor for Senegal, member of the Grand Conseil de l'Afrique Occidentale Francaise and member for the parliamentary assembly of the European Council. He became the 1st President of the Republic of Senegal, elected 5 September 1960 and authored the Senegalese national anthem. Although a socialist, Senghor avoided the Marxist and anti-Western ideology that had become popular in post-colonial Africa, favoring close ties with France and the West, seen by many as a contributing factor to Senegal's political stability: it remains one of the few African nations never to have had a coup, and always to have had a peaceful transfer of power. Senghor's tenure as president was characterized by the development of African socialism, created as an indigenous alternative to Marxism, drawing heavily from the négritude philosophy. On 22 March 1967, he survived an assassination attempt. At the beginning of December 1980, he resigned his position before the end of his 5th term. Under his presidency, Senegal adopted a multi-party system (limited to 3: socialist, communist and liberal). He created a performing education system. Despite the end of official colonialism, the value of Senegalese currency continued to be fixed by France, the language of learning remained French, and Senghor ruled the country with French political advisors. He was elected a member of l'Académie française on 2 June 1983, the first African to sit at the Académie. He spent the last years of his life with his wife near the city of Caen in Normandy, where he died on 20 December 2001. The airport of Dakar was renamed Aéroport International Léopold Sédar Senghor in 1996, on his 90th birthday. His poetry was widely acclaimed, and in 1948, he compiled and edited a volume of Francophone poetry called “Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre et malgache” for which Jean-Paul Sartre wrote an introduction, entitled "Orphée Noir" (Black Orpheus). TLS in French on 10 3/4 x 8 1/4 letterhead of the President of the Republic of Senegal, Dakar, April 7 1965, to Rev. Cornelius Greenway. President Senghor has received Rev. Greenway's letter of Feb. 21, 1965 and sends a requested signed photograph, returning Greenway's check. Signed, as per his custom, with his initials. Cornelius Greenway (1896-1968) immigrated to from Holland 1914, served in France in WW I. Began collecting autographs, inc. photos, in late 20’s. Universalist minister 1926, served parishes in Taunton & Boston, Mass. Pastor of All Souls Church, Brooklyn, 1929-65, affiliated with National Association of Congregational Christian Churches 1961.

Condition: Very good, very light corner bends at bottom
Type:Letter






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