Jacques, a French statesman, born in Geneva, Switzerland, Sept. 30, 1732, died at Coppet, in the same country, April 9, 1804. After receiving a liberal education, he went to Paris at the age of 15, was employed as a clerk in a banking house, became a partner in the banking house of Thelusson, and afterward engaged in the same business alone. Having accumulated a fortune, he gave up business in 1764, and was appointed resident minister of Geneva at the court of France. From 1764 to 1770 he acted as syndic of the French East India company. His reputation was greatly increased by several publications, such as the Eloge on Colbert, to which the French academy awarded a prize, and an Es-sai sur la legislation et le commerce des grains (1775); and in 1776 he was appointed assistant to the comptroller general Taboureau, with the title of director of the treasury, and in 1777 director general or minister of finance. These appointments he accepted on condition that he should receive no emoluments. He introduced order and economy into that branch of the administration, restored confidence among capitalists by securing the payment of interest on loans, restrained the prodigality of the court, curtailed the expenses of the administration, reclaimed many public estates which had been unlawfully alienated, regulated the assessment of taxes, abridged the right of mortmain, established a uniform excise on salt all over the kingdom, and endeavored to suppress statute labor and tolls.
He introduced improvements in the government of several provinces, and assisted in establishing the mont de piété of Paris and a bank of discount, out of which subsequently grew the bank of France. By his management a deficit of over 24,000,000 livres was made up, and in less than five years the annual receipts were 10,-000,000 in excess of the annual expenditures. In 1781 he published his Compte rendu au roi sur les finances de l'tat, an exposure which aroused the enmity of the courtiers, whose pensions and privileges had been abridged, and displeased the prime minister Maurepas. Neck-er, desiring to vindicate his measures before the king, insisted upon a seat in the royal council, from which he had been excluded on account of his religious persuasion. His claim being disregarded, he sent in his resignation. After his retirement he was involved in a controversy with Calonne, who attacked his financial policy. In 1784 he published his Administration des finances, which was sold to the number of 80,000 copies in a few days.
When his successors, Joly de Fleury, Calonne, and Lomenie de Brienne, had exhausted all available means and brought the exchequer to a crisis, Seeker was recalled by Louis XVI., and his return to power, Aug. 25, 1788, was hailed with general applause; confidence at once revived among all classes, and stocks rose 30 per cant, in a single day. But it was not a mere financial reform that was now needed; a political revulsion was at hand. Necker, relying upon his popularity, flattered himself that he could control the revolutionary movement; hut from the beginning he acted timidly. The assembling of the states general had been promised by his predecessor, and he had to fulfil that promise. In opposition to the notables who insisted upon preserving the ancient mode holding the states, he procured an order in council allowing the third estate a number of delegates about equal to that of the nobility and clergy combined. On the opening of the states general he made a report upon the condition of France, full of good wishes for the public welfare, but almost devoid of practical suggestions. After the royal session of June 23 he advised Louis XVI. to order the deputies of the nobles and the clergy to join those of the third estate.
He was looked upon by the people as the stanchest supporter of their rights; hut on July 11, 1789, he was dis-missed by the king and secretly left France. Paris rose at once in the wildest excitement; his bust, with that of the popular duke of Orleans, was carried in a mourning proces-sion through the streets; an insurrection was organized, and on the 14th the Bastile was taken. The king, yielding to popular clamor, sent immediately for his exiled minister, who was reinstated in office after an absence of 18 days. All the sources of public revenue were exhausted, and he had to provide for daily necessities. A loan for 30,000,000 livres and another for 80,000,000 were proposed by him and voted by the constituent assembly on Aug. 9 and 27; and both failed. In this extremity he moved (Sept. 24) that a tax amounting to the fourth part of all incomes should be levied, and the assembly granted it. This was the last financial measure he proposed. He vainly tried to oppose some of the revolutionary measures originating in the constituent assembly. such as the seizure of church property and the issuing of assignats. This made him unpopular, not only with the revolutionists, but with the majority of the deputies; while on the other hand he had lost the confidence of the king and of his colleagues.
A new issue of assignats to the amount of 800,000,000 having been ordered by the assembly (Sept 1 1790) resigned and started for Switzerland. On the roads where a year previous he had been welcomed a- the saviour of France, he was insulted, threatened, and even arrested; an order from the assembly was necessary to procure his release. He retired to his estate of Cop-pet, near Geneva, where he wrote a vindication of his conduct, De Vadministration de M. Necker, par lui-meme (1791). In 1792 he published Reflexions qffertes a la nation frangaise en fiaveur de Louis XVI., which had no other result than to cause him to be placed upon the list of emigres. In 1796 he published an essay, De la revolution firangaise, in which he severely censured the directorial government. After the accession of Bonaparte to power, Necker dreamed of the possibility of becoming his minister of finance; but in an interview he was coldly if not disdainfully treated. In consequence he published (1802) Dernieres vues de politique et de finances, directed against the consular government.
Among his miscellaneous writings are: Le uonlieur des sots and Fragments sur quelques usages de la societe frangaise en 1786, both humorous; Du pou-voir executif dans les grands etats, a political essay (1791); and Cours de morale religieuse (1800). His CEuvres completes (17 vols. 8vo) appeared at Paris in 1822.
Snsannc Cnrchod De Nasse, wife of the preceding, born in Geneva in 1739, died at Coppet in May, 1794. She belonged to a French Protestant family, who on the repeal of the edict of Nantes took refuge in Switzerland. Her father, a clergyman, gave special attention to her education; and she was early noticed for her solid and versatile knowledge no less than her beauty and virtue. The historian Gibbon sought her in marriage, but desisted in consequence of his father's opposition. Having married Necker in 1764, she accompanied him to Paris, where her house soon became the resort of most of the distinguished writers of the time. Buffon, Saint-Lambert, Marmontel, and Thomas were among her most frequent guests; and in this society she educated her daughter, the celebrated Mme. de Stael. She was much occupied with acts of benevolence, and was the founder of the hospital which bears her name (1778). In 1794 she published her Reflexions sur le divorce, an elaborate plea for the indissolubility of marriage. A selection from her writings (Melanges) was published by her husband after her death in 5 vols. 8vo.