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A committed man at the heart of political struggles at the end of the 19th century, business creator, Ernest Hugon was also a true Protestant humanist.
Originally from a family of the commercial bourgeoisie of Vallon, this extraordinary young man, an admirer, paradoxically, of both Thiers and Gambetta, went to Paris in 1871, during the uprising of the Commune and the famine and never hesitate to explore the outskirts of the city surrounded by the Versaillese.

From 1874, he founded with Ernest Paux, the company that would become the Hugon & Payan brewery, which he managed while demonstrating the qualities of a scrupulous manager.

In 1880, he was elected general councilor of the canton of Vallon, of which he became vice-president in 1887. He spent all his energy and played with his connections to bring to fruition his projects which were close to his heart: construction of schools, road to Vallon at Pont D'Arc, Chauzon, Balazuc and Ruoms bridges, drinking water supply, etc. In 1884, despite the danger, he took the lead in the fight against cholera in Ruoms and set up a " freight workers" to care for the sick and prevent contagion.
Yet his political career will not go beyond the General Council because of his Protestant origins. It was a relentless struggle against the clerical party whose leader was the notary Lauriol de Vallon, brother of the mayor of Ruoms.

In 1888, despite the danger represented by General Boulanger's candidacy for deputy, the Republican Party preferred to present a poorly placed Catholic candidate rather than Hugon, who was in danger of winning. Similarly, his candidacy for the Senate in 1896 failed because the clericals, practicing the politics of the worst, put in his place a radical with more advanced ideas who would be beaten.
The tactics of the Catholic right in Ardèche under the Third Republic often consisted of encourage the candidacy of radicals more to the left to defeat the moderate Republican left.
“It's only because I was born a Protestant that I ended up in the arrondissement of Largentière,” he admitted. And the nephew of the parish priest of Aubenas confided to his son Joseph Hugon: “What your father missed was his baptism”.

see extract from the book "Memories of stone: History of Ruoms in Ardèche - Marie-Hélène Bala
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