Simeon Bavier

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Simeon Bavier

Simeon Bavier (born September 16, 1825 in Chur ; † January 27, 1896 in Basel , resident in Chur) was a Swiss civil engineer , diplomat and politician . Professionally he devoted himself to the planning and construction of roads and railway lines. In 1863 he was elected to the National Council, to which he belonged for 15 years. He stood out as an expert in railway matters and campaigned unsuccessfully for an Alpine tunnel under the Splügen Pass . As a representative of the liberal center (today's FDP ) and first Graubünden , he was elected to the Federal Council in 1879 , of which he was a member until 1882. He then worked as the Swiss envoy in Italy for twelve years .


Study and job

Bavier came from an influential Chur banking and merchant family that played a leading role in the freight forwarding industry. He was the oldest of nine siblings. His father Johann Baptista Bavier was active as a politician at the cantonal and national level and was a cousin of Federal Councilor Wilhelm Matthias Naeff . His mother Katharina Roffler from Fideris was the daughter of the Landammann of the Ten Courts Association , Valentin Roffler. From 1837 Bavier attended the educational institute near Stetten in the Remstal . He then trained as a civil engineer at the Karlsruhe Polytechnic and the Stuttgart Polytechnic .

After his return to Chur in 1844, Bavier played a key role in the construction of roads through the Surselva and over the Bernina Pass . In 1850 he married Barbara von Salis-Seewis from the important noble family von Salis , with whom he had five children. In 1852 he settled in Fideris and from then on mainly occupied himself with the planning and construction of railway lines at home and abroad, for example the routes from Rapperswil to Chur and from Rorschach to Sargans . Projects he had developed in the Upper Engadine , Italy and France were not implemented . When the family-owned bank collapsed in 1866 in connection with the construction of the railway, he was temporarily in serious financial difficulties.

Cantonal and federal politics

In the years 1853 and 1854 Bavier was Landammann of the Jenaz district and represented it in the Grand Council of the Canton of Graubünden . In the parliamentary elections in 1863 he ran in the constituency of Graubünden-Nord and was elected to the National Council, of which he was a member for the following 15 years. Bavier belonged to the liberal center, but represented a different or even opposite opinion on numerous important issues. For example, in 1864 he rejected the Franco-Swiss trade treaty and ten years later spoke out against the total revision of the federal constitution .

Bavier was highly regarded as an expert in railway matters. On the question of a railway crossing the Alps, he vehemently advocated the construction of a line through the Eastern Alps, first for a route on the Lukmanier Pass , later on the Splügen Pass . For the latter variant, he presented his own projects in 1870 and 1871. Gradually, however, the Gotthard Railway project preferred by "Eisenbahnkönig" Alfred Escher gained the upper hand. Bavier accepted the defeat in this matter and made his expertise available as a permanent expert of the federal court . He also acted as an arbitrator in disputes between railway companies. In 1878, subsidizing the Gotthard Railway was up for debate. He initially rejected this, but then changed his mind and agreed to a compromise that also promised subsidies for rail projects in eastern Switzerland.

Federal Council

Autograph card

This willingness to compromise was a decisive factor in Bavier's election to the Federal Council on December 10, 1878. The Federal Assembly elected him in the first ballot with 108 of 172 valid votes to succeed Joachim Heer ; 53 votes went to Louis de Weck-Reynold , 11 votes to other people. Bavier, the first Graubünden member of the state government, was head of the finance and customs department in his first year in office in 1879 . The most important deal was the issue of a Swiss government bond worth 36 million francs.

In 1880 and 1881 Bavier headed the postal and railway department and was able to contribute his expertise. In particular, he endeavored to have a clearer tariff system and increased supervision of 24 railway companies by the federal government. In 1881 he headed the Congress for International Railway Law in Bern. In 1882 Bavier served as Federal President ; As was customary at the time, he took over the Political Department and was therefore also Foreign Minister. In May 1882 he officially opened the Gotthard Tunnel , in the presence of prominent politicians from Germany, Italy and Switzerland. The presidential year was overshadowed by the serious illness and the death of his son Baptista Bavier-Rittmeyer (1855–1882). Bavier was often in poor health, which is why he announced his resignation at the end of 1882.


Giovanni Battista Pioda , the Swiss envoy in Italy, died on November 3, 1882 . Bavier was then appointed as his successor by the Federal Council. He took up his new office on January 5, 1883 and immediately traveled to Rome to begin preliminary negotiations on new trade agreements. After twelve years in office, he submitted a resignation request in 1894 because he had a hearing problem, but this was only granted in the summer of 1895. He then lived with his wife in their family house in Malans . He died in 1896 while staying with one of his daughters in Basel. Fritz Stehlin was his son-in-law.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Jürg Simonett: Bavier, Johann Baptista. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland . 2009 .
  2. a b c Simonett: Das Bundesratlexikon. P. 169.
  3. Simonett: Das Bundesratlexikon. Pp. 169-170.
  4. a b Simonett: Das Bundesratlexikon. P. 170.
  5. Simonett: Das Bundesratlexikon. Pp. 170-171.
predecessor Office successor
Joachim Heer Member of the Swiss Federal Council
Adolf Deucher