Austen Chamberlain

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Sir Austen Chamberlain

KG MP
Laszlo - The Rt. Hon. Sir Austen Chamberlain.jpg
Portrait by Philip de László, 1920
First Lord of the Admiralty
In office
24 August 5 November 1931
Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald
Preceded by A. V. Alexander
Succeeded by Sir Bolton Eyres-Monsell
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
In office
3 November 1924 4 June 1929
Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin
Preceded by Ramsay MacDonald
Succeeded by Arthur Henderson
Lord Privy Seal
Leader of the House of Commons
In office
1 April 1921 23 October 1922
Prime Minister David Lloyd George
Preceded by Bonar Law
Succeeded by Lord Robert Cecil
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
9 October 1903 4 December 1905
Prime Minister Arthur Balfour
Preceded by Charles Thomson Ritchie
Succeeded by H. H. Asquith
In office
10 January 1919 1 April 1921
Prime Minister David Lloyd George
Preceded by Bonar Law
Succeeded by Sir Robert Horne
Secretary of State for India
In office
25 May 1915 17 July 1917
Prime Minister H. H. Asquith
David Lloyd George
Preceded by The Marquess of Crewe
Succeeded by Edwin Montagu
Postmaster-General
In office
11 August 1902 9 October 1903
Prime Minister Arthur Balfour
Preceded by The Marquess of Londonderry
Succeeded by Lord Stanley
Personal details
Born
Joseph Austen Chamberlain

(1863-10-16)16 October 1863
Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Died16 March 1937(1937-03-16) (aged 73)
London, England
NationalityBritish
Political party Liberal Unionist
Conservative [1]
Spouse(s)
Ivy Muriel Dundas(m. 1906)
Children3
Parents Joseph Chamberlain
Harriet Kenrick
Education Trinity College, Cambridge Sciences Po Paris
Signature Austen Chamberlain Signature.svg

Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain, KG (16 October 1863 – 16 March 1937) was a British statesman, son of Joseph Chamberlain and older half-brother of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer (twice) and was briefly Conservative Party leader before serving as Foreign Secretary.

Order of the Garter Order of chivalry in England

The Most Noble Order of the Garter is an order of chivalry founded by King Edward III of England in 1348. It is the most senior order of knighthood in the British honours system, outranked in precedence only by the Victoria Cross and the George Cross. The Order of the Garter is dedicated to the image and arms of Saint George, England's patron saint.

Joseph Chamberlain British businessman, politician, and statesman

Joseph Chamberlain was a British statesman who was first a radical Liberal, then, after opposing home rule for Ireland, a Liberal Unionist, and eventually served as a leading imperialist in coalition with the Conservatives. He split both major British parties in the course of his career.

Neville Chamberlain Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Arthur Neville Chamberlain was a British Conservative Party statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his foreign policy of appeasement, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the German-speaking Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany. When Adolf Hitler invaded Poland, the UK declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939, and Chamberlain led Britain through the first eight months of the Second World War.

Contents

Brought up to be the political heir of his father, whom he physically resembled, he was elected to Parliament as a Liberal Unionist at a by-election in 1892, and held office in the Unionist coalition governments of 1895-1905, remaining in the Cabinet as Chancellor of the Exchequer (1903–05) after his father resigned in 1903 to campaign for Tariff Reform. After his father's disabling stroke in 1906 Austen became the leading tariff reformer in the House of Commons. Late in 1911 he and Walter Long were due to fight one another for the leadership of the Conservative Party (in succession to Arthur Balfour), but both withdrew in favour of Bonar Law rather than risk a party split on a close result.

The Liberal Unionist Party was a British political party that was formed in 1886 by a faction that broke away from the Liberal Party. Led by Lord Hartington and Joseph Chamberlain, the party formed a political alliance with the Conservative Party in opposition to Irish Home Rule. The two parties formed the ten-year-long coalition Unionist Government 1895–1905 but kept separate political funds and their own party organisations until a complete merger between the Liberal Unionist and the Conservative parties was agreed to in May 1912.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Senior official in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom responsible for economic and financial matters

The Chancellor and Under-Treasurer of Her Majesty's Exchequer, commonly known as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or simply the Chancellor, is a senior official within the Government of the United Kingdom and head of Her Majesty's Treasury. The office is a British Cabinet-level position.

Walter Long, 1st Viscount Long British politician

Walter Hume Long, 1st Viscount Long,, was a British Unionist politician. In a political career spanning over 40 years, he held office as President of the Board of Agriculture, President of the Local Government Board, Chief Secretary for Ireland, Secretary of State for the Colonies and First Lord of the Admiralty. He is also remembered for his links with Irish Unionism, and served as Leader of the Irish Unionist Party in the House of Commons from 1906 to 1910.

Chamberlain returned to office in Asquith's wartime coalition government in May 1915, as Secretary of State for India, but resigned to take responsibility for the disastrous Kut Campaign. He again returned to office in Lloyd George's coalition government, once again serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer. He then served as Conservative Party leader in the Commons (1921–2), before resigning after the Carlton Club meeting voted to end the Lloyd George Coalition.

Secretary of State for India former political office in the United Kingdom

His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for India, known for short as the India Secretary or the Indian Secretary, was the British Cabinet minister and the political head of the India Office responsible for the governance of the British Indian Empire, Aden, and Burma. The post was created in 1858 when the East India Company's rule in Bengal ended and India, except for the Princely States, was brought under the direct administration of the government in Whitehall in London, beginning the official colonial period under the British Empire.

Siege of Kut WWI siege

The Siege of Kut Al Amara, also known as the First Battle of Kut, was the besieging of an 8,000 strong British-Indian garrison in the town of Kut, 160 kilometres (100 mi) south of Baghdad, by the Ottoman Army. In 1915 its population was around 6,500. Following the surrender of the garrison on 29 April 1916, the survivors of the siege were marched to imprisonment at Aleppo, during which many died. Historian Christopher Catherwood has called the siege "the worst defeat of the Allies in World War I".

The Carlton Club meeting, on 19 October 1922, was a formal meeting of Members of Parliament who belonged to the Conservative Party, called to discuss whether the party should remain in government in coalition with a section of the Liberal Party under the leadership of Liberal Prime Minister David Lloyd George. The party leadership favoured continuing, but the party rebels led by Bonar Law and Stanley Baldwin argued that participation was damaging the party. The meeting voted decisively against the Coalition, which resulted in its collapse, the resignation of Austen Chamberlain as party leader, and the invitation of Bonar Law to form a Government. The Conservatives subsequently won the general election with an overall majority.

Like many leading coalitionists, he did not hold office in the Conservative governments of 1922–4. By now regarded as an elder statesman, he served an important term as Foreign Secretary in Stanley Baldwin's Second Government (1924–9), during which he negotiated the Locarno Pact (1925), aimed at preventing war between France and Germany, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He last held office as First Lord of the Admiralty in 1931 but remained an active backbench MP until his death in 1937. He was one of the few MPs supporting Winston Churchill's appeals for rearmament against the German threat in the 1930s.

Stanley Baldwin Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, was a British Conservative Party statesman who dominated the government of the United Kingdom between the world wars, serving as Prime Minister on three occasions.

Locarno Treaties multilateral treaties negotiated in Locarno, Switzerland during October 1925

The Locarno Treaties were seven agreements negotiated at Locarno, Switzerland, on 5–16 October 1925 and formally signed in London on 1 December, in which the First World War Western European Allied powers and the new states of Central and Eastern Europe sought to secure the post-war territorial settlement, and return normalizing relations with defeated Germany. It also stated that Germany would never go to war with the other countries. Locarno divided borders in Europe into two categories: western, which were guaranteed by Locarno treaties, and eastern borders of Germany with Poland, which were open for revision.

Nobel Peace Prize One of five Nobel Prizes established by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Swedish industrialist, inventor, and armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel, along with the prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature. Since March 1901, it has been awarded annually to those who have "done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses".

Early life and career

Austen Chamberlain was born in Birmingham, the second child and eldest son of Joseph Chamberlain, [2] then a rising industrialist and political radical, later Mayor of Birmingham and a dominant figure in Liberal and Unionist politics at the end of the 19th century. His father and mother, the former Harriet Kenrick had a baby daughter Beatrice Chamberlain who would become an educationalist. Harriet died giving birth to Austen, [2] leaving his father so shaken that for almost 25 years he maintained a distance from his first-born son. In 1868, his father married Harriet's cousin, Florence, and had further children, the oldest of whom, Neville, would become Prime Minister in the year of Austen's death.

Birmingham Major city in the English Midlands, 2nd highest population of UK cities

Birmingham is a major city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands, England. It is the second-most populous city in the United Kingdom, after London, and the most populous city in the English Midlands. It is also the most populous metropolitan district in the United Kingdom, with an estimated 1,137,123 inhabitants, and is considered the social, cultural, financial, and commercial centre of the Midlands. It is the main local government of the West Midlands conurbation, which is the third most populated urban area in the United Kingdom, with a population of 2,897,303 in 2017. The wider Birmingham metropolitan area is the second largest in the United Kingdom with a population of over 4.3 million. It is frequently referred to as both England and the United Kingdom's "second city".

The term "Radical", during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, identified proponents of democratic reform, in what subsequently became the parliamentary Radical Movement.

In many countries, a mayor is the highest-ranking official in a municipal government such as that of a city or a town.

Austen was dominated by his elder sister and was therefore sent away to be educated first at Rugby School "to release him from her thrall", [2] before passing on to Trinity College, Cambridge. [3] While at Trinity College, he became a lifelong friend of F. S. Oliver, a future advocate of Imperial Federation and, after 1909, a prominent member of the Round Table movement. Chamberlain made his first political address in 1884 at a meeting of the university's Political Society and was vice-president of the Cambridge Union Society.

Rugby School independent school in the United Kingdom

Rugby School is a day and mostly boarding co-educational independent school in Rugby, Warwickshire, England. Founded in 1567 as a free grammar school for local boys, it is one of the oldest independent schools in Britain. Up to 1667, the school remained in comparative obscurity. Its re-establishment by Thomas Arnold during his time as Headmaster, from 1828 to 1841, was seen as the forerunner of the Victorian public school. It is one of the original seven Great Nine Public Schools defined by the Clarendon Commission of 1864. Rugby School was also the birthplace of Rugby football. In 1845, a committee of Rugby schoolboys wrote the "Laws of Football as Played At Rugby School", the first published set of laws for any code of football.

Trinity College, Cambridge constituent college of the University of Cambridge in England

Trinity College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge in England. With around 600 undergraduates, 300 graduates, and over 180 fellows, it is the largest college in either of the Oxbridge universities by number of undergraduates. In terms of total student numbers, it is second only to Homerton College, Cambridge.

Frederick Scott Oliver, or F.S. Oliver (1864–1934), was a prominent Scottish political writer and businessman who advocated tariff reform and imperial union for the British Empire. He played an important role in the Round Table movement, collaborated in the downfall of Prime Minister H. H. Asquith’s wartime government and its replacement by David Lloyd George in 1916, and pressed for "home rule all round" to resolve the political conflict between Britain and Irish nationalists.

It would seem that from an early age his father had intended for politics to be Austen's future path, and with that in mind, he was sent first to France, where he studied at the Paris Institute of Political Studies and developed a lasting admiration for the French people and culture. For nine months, he was shown the brilliance of Paris under the Third Republic, and he met and dined with the likes of Georges Clemenceau and Alexandre Ribot.

From Paris Austen was sent to Berlin for twelve months, to imbibe the political culture of the other great European power, Germany. Though in his letters home to Beatrice and Neville, he showed an obvious preference for France and the lifestyle he had left behind there, Chamberlain undertook to learn German and learn from his experience in the capital of the Second Reich. Among others, Austen met and dined with the "Iron Chancellor", Otto von Bismarck, an experience that was to hold a special place in his heart for the duration of his life.

While attending the University of Berlin Austen developed a suspicion of the growing nationalism in Germany based upon his experience of the lecturing style of Heinrich von Treitschke, who opened up to him "a new side of the German character - a narrow-minded, proud, intolerant Prussian chauvinism", the consequences of which he was later to ponder during the First World War and the crises of the 1930s.

Austen returned to England in 1888, lured largely by the prize of a parliamentary constituency. He was first elected to parliament as a member of his father's own Liberal Unionist Party in 1892, sitting for the seat of East Worcestershire. Owing to the prominence of his father and the alliance between the anti-Home Rule Liberal Unionists and Conservatives, Chamberlain was returned unopposed on 30 March, and at the first sitting of the new session, he walked up the floor of the house flanked by his father and his uncle, Richard.

Owing to the dissolution of parliament and the 1892 general election that August, Chamberlain was unable to make his maiden speech until April 1893, but, when delivered, it was acclaimed by the four-time Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone as "one of the best speeches which has been made". That Chamberlain was speaking against Gladstone's own Second Home Rule Bill does not seem to have dampened the enthusiasm of the Prime Minister, who responded by publicly congratulating both Austen and his father, Joseph, on such an excellent performance. That was highly significant, given the bad blood existing between Joseph Chamberlain and his former leader.

Political office

Chamberlain caricatured by Spy for Vanity Fair, 1899. Joseph Austen Chamberlain, Vanity Fair, 1899-08-03.jpg
Chamberlain caricatured by Spy for Vanity Fair , 1899.

Appointed a junior Whip of the Liberal Unionists after the general election, Austen's main role was to act as his father's "standard bearer" in matters of policy. Following the Conservative and Unionist landslide win in the election of 1895, Chamberlain was appointed Civil Lord of the Admiralty, holding that post until 1900, when he became Financial Secretary to the Treasury. Lord Salisbury retired as Prime Minister in July 1902, and the following month Chamberlain was promoted to the position of Postmaster General by the new premier, the Conservative Arthur J. Balfour, who also designated this a cabinet position, [4] and appointed him to the Privy Council. [5]

In the wake of the struggle between his father and Balfour, Austen Chamberlain became Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1903. Austen's appointment was largely a compromise solution to the bitter division of the two Unionist heavyweights, which threatened to split the coalition between supporters of Chamberlain's Imperial Tariff campaign and Balfour's more cautious advocacy of protectionism. While Austen supported his father’s programme, his influence within the cabinet was diminished following the departure of the senior Chamberlain to become backbenchers. Facing a resurgent Liberal opposition and the threat of an internal party split, Balfour eventually took the Unionists into opposition in December 1905, and in the ensuing rout in the election of 1906, Austen found himself one of the few surviving Liberal Unionists in the House of Commons.

After his father's stroke and enforced retirement from active politics a few months later, Austen became the effective leader of the tariff reform campaign within the Unionist Party, and thus, he was a contender for the eventual leadership of the party itself.

Leadership questions

With the Unionists in disarray after electoral defeats at both the January and December 1910 elections, Balfour was forced from his position as party leader in November 1911. Chamberlain was one of the leading candidates to succeed as Conservative leader even though he was still technically a member of the Liberal Unionist wing of the coalition (the two parties merged formally only in 1912).

Chamberlain was opposed by Canadian-born Bonar Law, Walter Long and Irish Unionist Edward Carson.

Given their standing in the party, only Chamberlain and Long had a realistic chance of success and though Balfour had intended Chamberlain to succeed him, it became clear from an early canvass of the sitting MPs that Long would be elected by a slender margin.

After a short period of internal party campaigning, Chamberlain determined to withdraw from the contest for the good of the still-divided party. He succeeded in persuading Long to withdraw with him in favour of Bonar Law, who was subsequently chosen by unanimous vote as a compromise candidate.

Chamberlain's action, while it prevented him from attaining the party leadership and, arguably, the premiership, did a great deal to maintain unity within the Conservative and Liberal Unionist parties at a time of great uncertainty and strain.

Irish Home Rule

Sir Austen Chamberlain, 1908-12, by Henry Walter Barnett Sir (Joseph) Austen Chamberlain.jpg
Sir Austen Chamberlain, 1908-12, by Henry Walter Barnett

In the last years before the outbreak of World War I, Chamberlain was concerned with one issue above all others: Home Rule for Ireland. The issue that had prompted his father to leave the Liberal Party in the 1880s now threatened to spill over into outright civil war, with the government of H. H. Asquith committed to the passage of a Third Home Rule Bill. Chamberlain was resolutely opposed to the dissolution of the Union with Ireland. To the strain then was added the death of his father in July 1914, only a few days after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, which began the train of events that led to the war.

First World War

Pressure from the Conservative opposition, in part led by Chamberlain, eventually resulted in the formation of the wartime coalition government, in 1915. Chamberlain joined the cabinet as Secretary of State for India. Like other politicians, including Arthur Balfour and George Curzon, Chamberlain supported the invasion of Mesopotamia to increase British prestige in the region, thus discouraging a German-inspired Muslim revolt in India. [6]

Chamberlain remained at the India Office after David Lloyd George succeeded Asquith as Prime Minister in late 1916, but following inquiries into the failure of the Mesopotamian campaign (undertaken by the separately-administered Indian Army) in 1915, including the loss of the British garrison during the Siege of Kut, Chamberlain resigned his post in 1917; as the minister ultimately responsible, the fault lay with him. He was widely acclaimed for such a principled act. [7]

After Lloyd George's Paris speech (12 November 1917) at which he said that "when he saw the appalling casualty lists he wish(ed) it had not been necessary to win so many ("victories")" there was talk of Chamberlain withdrawing support from the government. Lloyd George survived by claiming that the aim of the new inter-Allied Supreme War Council was purely to "coordinate" policy, not to overrule the British generals, who still enjoyed a good deal of support from Conservatives. [8]

Later, he returned to government and became a member of the War Cabinet in April 1918 as Minister without Portfolio, replacing Lord Milner, who had become Secretary of State for War.

Following the victory of the Lloyd George coalition in the 1918 general election, Chamberlain was again appointed to the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer in January 1919 and immediately faced the huge task of restoring Britain's finances after four years of wartime expenditure.

Leadership

Citing ill health, Bonar Law retired from the leadership of the Conservative branch of the Lloyd George government in the spring of 1921. His seniority and the general dislike of Curzon, his counterpart in the House of Lords, helped Chamberlain to both succeed Bonar Law as Leader of the House of Commons and take over in the office of Lord Privy Seal. He was succeeded at the Exchequer by Sir Robert Horne; it seemed that after ten years of waiting, Austen would again be given the opportunity of succeeding to the premiership.

The Lloyd George coalition was beginning to falter, following numerous scandals and the unsuccessful conclusion of the Anglo-Irish War, and it was widely believed that it would not survive until the next general election. He had previously had little regard for Lloyd George, but the opportunity of working closely with the "Welsh Wizard" gave Chamberlain a new insight into his nominal superior in the government (by now, the Conservative Party was by far the largest partner in the government).

It was an unfortunate change of allegiance for Chamberlain, for by late 1921, the Conservative backbenchers were growing more and more restless for an end to the coalition and a return to single-party (Conservative) government. Conservatives in the House of Lords began, in public, to oppose the coalition, disregarding calls for support from Chamberlain. In the country at large, Conservative candidates began to oppose the coalition at by-elections, and discontent spread to the House of Commons.

In the autumn of 1922, Chamberlain faced a backbench revolt, largely led by Stanley Baldwin, designed to oust Lloyd George, and when he summoned the Carlton Club meeting 19 October 1922, of Conservative MPs, a motion was there passed for fighting the forthcoming election as an independent party. Chamberlain resigned the party leadership rather than act against what he believed to be his duty. He was succeeded by Bonar Law, whose views and intentions he had predicted the evening before the vote at a private meeting. Bonar Law formed a government shortly thereafter, but Chamberlain was not given a post, but it seems that he would not have accepted a position even if he had been offered one.

Austen and Neville Chamberlain and Iain Duncan Smith are the only three Conservative leaders not to lead the party into a general election. Until William Hague (1997-2001), Austen was the only Conservative leader in the 20th century not to become Prime Minister.

Foreign Secretary

With Stresemann (left) and Briand at Locarno Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R03618, Locarno, Gustav Stresemann, Chamberlain, Briand.jpg
With Stresemann (left) and Briand at Locarno

After the second resignation of Bonar Law in May 1923 (Law died from throat cancer later that year), Chamberlain was passed over again for the leadership of the party in favour of Stanley Baldwin. Baldwin offered Chamberlain the post of Lord Privy Seal, but Chamberlain insisted other former ministers from the Coalition to be included as well; Baldwin refused. However, Chamberlain returned to government when Baldwin formed his second ministry following success in the election of October 1924, serving in the important office of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from 1924 to 1929. Chamberlain was largely allowed a free hand by the easy-going Baldwin.

It is as Foreign Secretary that Chamberlain's place in history was finally assured. In a difficult period in international relations, Chamberlain faced not only a split in the entente cordiale by the French invasion of the Ruhr but also the controversy over the 1924 Geneva Protocol, which threatened to dilute British sovereignty over the issue of League of Nations economic sanctions.

Locarno Pact

Garter-encircled shield of arms of Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain, KG, as displayed on his Order of the Garter stall plate in St. George's Chapel, viz. Gules, a key in bend between two lions rampant or. Shield of Arms of Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain, KG.png
Garter-encircled shield of arms of Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain, KG, as displayed on his Order of the Garter stall plate in St. George's Chapel, viz. Gules, a key in bend between two lions rampant or.

Despite the importance to history of other pressing issues, his reputation chiefly rests on his part in the negotiations over what came to be known as the Locarno Pact of 1925. Seeking to maintain the postwar status quo in the West, Chamberlain responded favourably to the approaches of German Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann for a British guarantee of Germany's western borders. Besides promoting Franco-German reconciliation, Chamberlain's main motive was to create a situation in which Germany could pursue territorial revisionism in Eastern Europe peacefully. [9]

Chamberlain's understanding was that if Franco-German relations improved, France would gradually abandon the Cordon sanitaire , the French alliance system in Eastern Europe between the wars. [9] Once France had abandoned its allies in Eastern Europe as the price of better relations with the Reich, the Poles and Czechoslovaks would have no Great Power ally to protect them, would be forced to adjust to German demands. Chamberlain believed that they would peacefully hand over the territories claimed by Germany such as the Sudetenland, the Polish Corridor and the Free City of Danzig. [9] Promoting territorial revisionism in Eastern Europe in Germany's favour was one of Chamberlain's principal reasons for Locarno.

Together with Aristide Briand of France, Chamberlain and Stresemann met at the town of Locarno in October 1925 and signed a mutual agreement (together with representatives from Belgium and Italy) to settle all differences between the nations by arbitration, not war. For his services, Chamberlain was not only awarded the Nobel Peace Prize but also made a Knight of the Order of the Garter. He was the first ordinary Knight of the Garter since Elizabethan times (Sir Henry Lee) to die without having been made a peer. He was the 871st Knight of the Garter.

Chamberlain also secured Britain's accession to the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which theoretically outlawed war as an instrument of policy. Chamberlain infamously said that Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was "a man with whom business could be done". [10]

Later career

Following his less-satisfactory engagement in issues in the Far East and Egypt, and the resignation of Baldwin’s government after the election of 1929, Chamberlain resigned his position as Foreign Secretary and went into retirement. He briefly returned to government in 1931 as First Lord of the Admiralty in Ramsay MacDonald's first National Government, but soon retired later that year after having been forced to deal with the unfortunate Invergordon Mutiny.

Over the next six years as a senior backbencher, he gave strong support to the National Government on domestic issues but was critical on foreign policy. In 1935 the government faced a parliamentary rebellion over the Hoare-Laval Pact; his opposition to the vote of censure is widely believed to have been instrumental in saving the government from defeat on the floor of the House.

Chamberlain was again briefly considered in 1935 for the post of Foreign Secretary but was passed over once the crisis was over for being too old for the job. [11] Instead, his advice was sought as to the suitability of his former Parliamentary Private Secretary, now Minister for the League of Nations, Anthony Eden for the post.

Calls for rearmament

From 1934 to 1937, Chamberlain was, with Winston Churchill, Roger Keyes and Leo Amery, the most prominent voice calling for British rearmament in the face of a growing threat from Nazi Germany. In addition to speaking eloquently in Parliament on the matter, he was the chairman of two Conservative parliamentary delegations in late 1936 that met with Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin to remonstrate with him about his government's delay in rearming the British defence forces. [12] More respected than Churchill, Chamberlain became something of an icon to young Conservatives, as the last survivor of Victorian high politics.

Though he never again served in a government, he survived in good health until March 1937, dying just ten weeks before his younger half-brother, Neville, became the first and only member of the Chamberlain dynasty to become Prime Minister.

Chamberlain died at the age of 73 in his London home, 24 Egerton Terrace, on 16 March 1937. He is buried in East Finchley Cemetery in London.

His estate was valued at probate at £45,044, a relatively modest sum for such a famous public figure. Much of his father's fortune had been lost in a failed attempt by his younger brother Neville to grow sisal in the West Indies in the early 1890s, and unlike Neville, he never went into business to make money for himself.

His personal and political papers are housed in the Cadbury Research Library at the University of Birmingham.

Assessments

Robert Blake wrote that Austen Chamberlain "for all his talents was only a thin echo of his formidable father, a mere shadow of that extraordinary figure ... Austen Chamberlain was altogether kinder than his father, more likeable, more honourable, more high-minded and less effective … he lacked that ultimate hardness without which men seldom reach supreme political power.” Blake comments that he often missed his chances because he could be persuaded to back off by the suggestion that he was acting for self-seeking reasons, hence Churchill’s quip that “he always played the game, and he always lost it”. [13]

David Dutton comments that early assessments of Chamberlain's career compared him unfavourably with his father, who overshadowed his early career, and his brother, who overshadowed his later decades. In his forties, when he was ready to carve out his own identity, he had to act as a surrogate for his disabled father, whom he resembled in appearance (although he was softer and less wiry, both in face and body) and dress (wearing a monocle, and an orchid in his lapel). Until William Hague (1997-2001), he was the only Conservative leader of the twentieth century not to become Prime Minister. Although this is sometimes attributed to character defects, Dutton argues that he was a major figure in his own right, who only narrowly missed becoming Prime Minister in 1922 or 1923. Dutton quotes with approval Leo Amery's verdict written just after Chamberlain's death: 'He just missed greatness and the highest position, but his was a fine life of honourable public service'. [14]

Chamberlain could speak effectively, but was never a stirring orator. For most of his career he was renowned for rectitude and civic duty. Before the war Chamberlain had been a somewhat reluctant radical, but after 1918 he became more conservative, concerned at the new threat of socialism, and whose dress – he not only wore a monocle and frock coat but was one of the last MPs to wear a top hat inside the Commons Chamber – made him appear a relic from a previous generation. Dutton suggests that his “exaggerated sense of his own importance and dignity which compounded an already stiff and unbending personal demeanour”, came from having to serve under men – Bonar Law and Baldwin – whom he regarded as his juniors. [14]

Personal life

In 1906, Chamberlain married Ivy Muriel Dundas (died 1941), daughter of Colonel Henry Dundas. [15] They had two sons, Joseph and Lawrence, and a daughter, Diane. [16] During the 1920s, Chamberlain lived at a house called Twytt's Ghyll in Fir Toll Road, Mayfield, East Sussex. He sold the house in 1929. R. C. G. Foster said, "He kept himself quite aloof from the village and was not popular with his neighbours".[ citation needed ] He had an interest in rock gardening. [17] At his death, his estate was valued for probate at £45,044 18/1. [18]

Styles of address

See also

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Liberal David Lloyd George formed a coalition government in the United Kingdom in December 1916, and was appointed Prime Minister of the United Kingdom by King George V. It replaced the earlier wartime coalition under H. H. Asquith, which had been held responsible for losses during the Great War. Those Liberals who continued to support Asquith served as the Official Opposition. The government continued in power after the end of the war in 1918, though Lloyd George was increasingly reliant on the Conservatives for support. After several scandals including allegations of the sale of honours, the Conservatives withdrew their support after a meeting at the Carlton Club in 1922, and Bonar Law formed a government.

History of the Conservative Party (UK)

The Conservative Party is the oldest political party in the United Kingdom and arguably the world. The current party was first organized in the 1830s and the name "Conservative" was officially adopted, but the party is still often referred to as the Tory party. The Tories had been a coalition that more often than not formed the government from 1760 until the Reform Act 1832. Modernizing reformers said the traditionalistic party of "Throne, Altar and Cottage" was obsolete, but in the face of an expanding electorate 1830s–1860s it held its strength among royalists, devout Anglicans and landlords and their tenants.

Leader of the Conservative Party (UK) most senior politician within the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom

The Leader of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom is the most senior politician of the Conservative Party. To date, two of the leaders have been women: Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May. May resigned on 7 June 2019, triggering a leadership election, and is acting leader until a successor is elected.

Imperial Preference was a system of reciprocally-enacted tariffs or free trade agreements between the dominions and colonies of the British Empire. As Commonwealth Preference, the proposal was later revived in regard to the members of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Tariff Reform League

The Tariff Reform League (TRL) was a protectionist British pressure group formed in 1903 to protest against what they considered to be unfair foreign imports and to advocate Imperial Preference to protect British industry from foreign competition. It was well funded and included politicians, intellectuals and businessmen, and was popular with the grassroots of the Conservative Party. It was internally opposed by the Unionist Free Food League but that had virtually disappeared as a viable force by 1910. By 1914 the Tariff Reform League had approximately 250,000 members. It is associated with the national campaign of Joseph Chamberlain, the most outspoken and charismatic supporter of Tariff Reform. The historian Bruce Murray has claimed that the TRL "possessed fewer prejudices against large-scale government expenditure than any other political group in Edwardian Britain".

Rise of Neville Chamberlain British politician

The early life, business career and political rise of Neville Chamberlain culminated on 28 May 1937, when he was summoned to Buckingham Palace to "kiss hands" and accept the office of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Chamberlain had long been regarded as Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin's political heir, and when Baldwin announced his retirement, Chamberlain was seen as the only possible successor.

The National Liberal Party was a liberal political party in the United Kingdom from 1922–23. It was created as a formal party organisation for those Liberals, led by Prime Minister David Lloyd George, who supported the Coalition Government (1918–22) and subsequently a revival of the Coalition, after it ceased holding office. It was officially a breakaway from the Liberal Party. The National Liberals ceased to exist in 1923 when Lloyd George agreed a merger with the Liberal Party.

References

  1. "History of Sir Austen Chamberlain - GOV.UK".
  2. 1 2 3 "Chamberlain, Beatrice Mary (1862–1918), educationist and political organizer | Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". www.oxforddnb.com. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/101358 . Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  3. "Chamberlain, Joseph Austen (CHMN882JA)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  4. "Mr Balfour´s Ministry - full list of appointments". The Times (36842). London. 9 August 1902. p. 5.
  5. "No. 27464". The London Gazette . 12 August 1902. p. 5174.
  6. Woodward, David R, "Field Marshal Sir William Robertson", Westport Connecticut & London: Praeger, 1998, ISBN   0-275-95422-6, pp113, 118-9
  7. "Chamberlain out of India Office" (PDF). The New York Times. 13 July 1917. Retrieved 20 January 2008.
  8. Woodward, David R, "Field Marshal Sir William Robertson", Westport Connecticut & London: Praeger, 1998, ISBN   0-275-95422-6, pp192-4
  9. 1 2 3 Stephen Schuker, "The End of Versailles" in The Origins of the Second World War Reconsidered: A.J.P. Taylor And The Historians edited by Gordon Martel (Routledge: 1999) p. 48-49.
  10. Gijs Van Hensbergen (2005). Guernica: The Biography of a Twentieth-century Icon. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. p. 92.
  11. Douglas Hurd, Choose Your Weapons: The British Foreign Secretary; 200 Years of Argument, Success and Failure, Phoenix (2010), pp. 284-5
  12. Alfred F. Havighurst (1985). Britain in Transition: The Twentieth Century. University of Chicago Press. p. 252.
  13. Blake 1955, pp72-3
  14. 1 2 Dutton 2004, pp906-24
  15. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  16. "Ivy Muriel Dundas Chamberlain (1878 - 1941) - Find A Grave Memorial".
  17. Cornish, Tim (January 2012). "Nobel Peace Prize for Mayfield Man". Mayfield and Five Ashes Newsletter. pp. 16–17.
  18. D J Dutton, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Further reading

For such a prominent historical figure, Chamberlain has had very little attention from academics. The official biography by Sir Charles Petrie is reputable although the more recent work by David Dutton is a far more balanced account. Dutton is widely regarded as the expert on Austen Chamberlain although he disagrees with Richard Grayson's assessment of Chamberlain's views on France and Germany. Peter Marsh, author of the most recent biography of Joseph Chamberlain, is currently studying the Chamberlain family. Richard Scully is investigating Sir Austen's year in Germany and its subsequent effect on his opinions and politics.

Sources

Journals

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Hastings
Member of Parliament for East Worcestershire
1892–1914
Succeeded by
Frederick Leverton Harris
Preceded by
Joseph Chamberlain
Member of Parliament for Birmingham West
1914–1937
Succeeded by
Walter Higgs
Political offices
Preceded by
Edmund Robertson
Civil Lord of the Admiralty
1895–1900
Succeeded by
E. G. Pretyman
Preceded by
Robert William Hanbury
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
1900–1902
Succeeded by
William Hayes Fisher
Preceded by
The Marquess of Londonderry
Postmaster General
1902–1903
Succeeded by
Lord Stanley
Preceded by
Charles Ritchie
Chancellor of the Exchequer
1903–1905
Succeeded by
H. H. Asquith
Preceded by
The Earl of Crewe
Secretary of State for India
1915–1917
Succeeded by
Edwin Montagu
Preceded by
Bonar Law
Chancellor of the Exchequer
1919–1921
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Horne
Preceded by
Bonar Law
Lord Privy Seal
1921–1922
Succeeded by
Lord Robert Cecil
Conservative Leader in the Commons
1921–1922
Succeeded by
Bonar Law
(as overall leader)
Leader of the British Conservative Party
1921–1922
with The Marquess Curzon of Kedleston
Preceded by
Ramsay MacDonald
Foreign Secretary
1924–1929
Succeeded by
Arthur Henderson
Preceded by
A. V. Alexander
First Lord of the Admiralty
1931
Succeeded by
The Viscount Monsell
Academic offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Birkenhead
Rector of the University of Glasgow
1925—1928
Succeeded by
Stanley Baldwin
Preceded by
James Herbert Benyon
Chancellor of the University of Reading
1935–1937
Succeeded by
Sir Samuel Hoare, Bt