Michel Chevalier, a French political economist, born in Limoges, Jan. 13, 180G. He studied at the polytechnic and the mining schools, and was appointed engineer in the department of Le Nord. After the revolution of July, 1830, he joined the disciples of Saint Simon, and was intrusted with the editorship of their official organ, the Globe. He participated in all the proceedings of the apostles of the new faith, and shared the penalties they incurred, being sentenced to a year's imprisonment: but he was leniently dealt with by the government, and released at the expiration of six months. He was sent to the United States by M. Thiers, then minister of commerce, to investigate the American system of railroads. He arrived in New York toward the end of 1832, travelled during two years over the United States, Mexico, and Cuba, and published the results of his observations in a series of letters in the Journal des Debate, which were in 1836 collected under the title of Lettres sur l'Amerique du Nord. Another work, Des interete materiels en France, which appeared in 1838, a brilliant sketch of the internal improvements planned by M. Mole, was received with equal favor.
In 1840 Chevalier entered the council of state and the superior board of agriculture and trade, succeeded M. Rossi in the professorship of political economy at the college de France, and a few months later was promoted to the rank of chief engineer of mines. In his Histoire et description ties voies de communication aux Etats Unis (2 vols., 1840-'42), he gives a full account of American railroads, with a view of their in-liuence upon social intercourse. His lectures at the college de France became very popular, and he continued his contributions to the Journal des Debats. In 1845 he was elected to the chamber of deputies by the department of Aveyron; but his free-trade doctrines prevented his reelection, He became the standard-bearer of the free-trade party, advocating his opinions in occasional pamphlets in the Debats and in the Revue des Deux Mondes. In the latter periodical, after the revolution of 1848, he opposed the doctrines supported by Louis Blanc in the conferences at the Luxembourg; the papers directed against the socialist apostle were entitled Question des travailleurs, and had their complement in the Lettres sur Vor-ganisation du travail, which appeared in the Debats. This contest, in which Chevalier evinced anti-revolutionary sympathies, caused his dismissal from his professorship during the provisional government; but he afterward regained official favor, and was reinstated in his chair at the college de France, and his seat at the council of state.
In 1851 he was elected a member of the academy of moral and political sciences. He was one of the commissioners of the universal exposition of 1855 in Paris, and was president of the French division of the jury at the exhibition in London in 1862. In 1800 he assisted Mr. Cobden in negotiating the commercial treaty between France and England; and the same year he was appointed senator, and took a prominent part in the discussion of important subjects relating to finance and industry. To him was intrusted the publication of the official report on the different classes of articles exhibited at the universal exposition of 1807 in Paris, and he wrote the introduction, in which the entire subject of modern industry is philosophically treated. This was published in 1808 under the title Exposition universelle de 1807 a Paris, rapports du jury international. In 1800 he was a member of the commission to investigate the state of agriculture, and in 1809 was made president of the international league of peace.
Besides the works already mentioned, he has published L'isthme de Panama, suivi d'un apercu sur l'isthme de Suez (1844); La liberie aux Etats Unis (1849); Examen du systeme commercial connu sous le nom de systeme pro-tecteur (1851); Questions politiques et societies (1852); La question de l'or (1853); De la baisse probable de l'or, etc. (1857); L'expedition du Mexique (1862); Le Mexique ancien et moderne (1863); Cours d'economiepolitique (3 vols., 1842-50; new ed., 1866); and La guerre et la crise europeenne (1866). Many of his works have been translated into English.