Timeline of World History TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY



1800 - 1899
1800-09 1810-19 1820-29 1830-39 1840-49 1850-59 1860-69 1870-79 1880-89 1890-99
1800 1810 1820 1830 1840 1850 1860 1870 1880 1890
1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
1802 1812 1822 1832 1842 1852 1862 1872 1882 1892
1803 1813 1823 1833 1843 1853 1863 1873 1883 1893
1804 1814 1824 1834 1844 1854 1864 1874 1884 1894
1805 1815 1825 1835 1845 1855 1865 1875 1885 1895
1806 1816 1826 1836 1846 1856 1866 1876 1886 1896
1807 1817 1827 1837 1847 1857 1867 1877 1887 1897
1808 1818 1828 1838 1848 1858 1868 1878 1888 1898
1809 1819 1829 1839 1849 1859 1869 1879 1889 1899
  BACK-1868 Part IV NEXT-1869 Part II    
1860 - 1869
History at a Glance
1860 Part I
Treaty of Turin
First Taranaki War
Convention of Peking
Secession of South Carolina
Poincare Raymond
The Church Union
1860 Part II
Barrie James Matthew
Boucicault Dion
Dion Boucicault: "The Colleen Bawn"
Collins Wilkie
Wilkie Collins: "The Woman in White"
Wilkie Collins 
"The Moonstone"
"The Woman in White"
George Eliot: "The Mill on the Floss"
Di Giacoma Salvatore
Labiche Eugene-Marin
Multatuli: "Max Havelaar"
Alexander Ostrovski: "The Storm"
Chekhov Anton
Anton Chekhov
"Uncle Vanya"
1860 Part III
Degas: "Spartan Boys and Girls Exercising"
Hunt: "Finding of the Saviour in the Temple"
Manet: "Spanish Guitar Player"
Ensor James
James Ensor
Mucha Alfons
Alfons Mucha
Levitan Isaak
Isaac Levitan
Steer Philip Wilson
Philip Wilson Steer
Mahler Gustav
Mahler - Das Lied von der Erde
Gustav Mahler
Paderewski Ignace
Paderewski - Minuet
Ignace Paderewski
Suppe Franz
Franz von Suppe - Das Pensionat
Franz von Suppe
Wolf Hugo
Hugo Wolf - "Kennst du das Land"
Hugo Wolf
MacDowell Edward
MacDowell - Piano Sonata No. 1 "Tragica"
Edward MacDowell
Albeniz Isaac
Albeniz - Espana
Isaac Albeniz
1860 Part IV
Fechner Gustav Theodor
Lenoir Etienne
Walton Frederick
Across the Continent
Burke Robert O'Hara
Wills William John
Stuart John McDouall
Grant James Augustus
"The Cornhill Magazine"
"The Catholic Times"
Heenan John Camel
Sayers Tom
The Open Championship
Park William
1861 Part I
Confederate States of America
Davis Jefferson
First inauguration of Abraham Lincoln
American Civil War
First Battle of Bull Run
Battle of Hatteras
The American Civil War, 1861
1861 Part II
Siege of Gaeta
Emancipation Manifesto
Louis I
1861 Part III
Dal Vladimir
Steiner Rudolf
Whitehead Alfred North
Charles Dickens: "Great Expectations"
Dostoevsky: "The House of the Dead"
George Eliot: "Silas Marner"
Oliver Wendell Holmes: "Elsie Venner"
Tagore Rabindranath
Charles Reade: "The Cloister and the Hearth"
Wood Ellen
Mrs. Henry Wood: "East Lynne"
Spielhagen Friedrich
Friedrich Spielhagen: "Problematische Naturen"
1861 Part IV
Garnier Charles
Anquetin Louis
Louis Anquetin
Godward John William
John William Godward
Bourdelle Antoine
Antoine Bourdelle
Korovin Konstantin
Konstantin Korovin
Maillol Aristide
Aristide Maillol
Melba Nellie
Royal Academy of Music, London
The Paris version "Tannhauser"
1861 Part V
Thallium (Tl)
Hopkins Frederick Gowland
Mort Thomas Sutcliffe
Nansen Fridtjof
Fermentation theory
Baker Samuel
Baker Florence
The Bakers and the Nile
Beeton Isabella
Harden Maximilian
First horse-drawn trams in London
Order of the Star of India
Otis Elisha Graves
1862 Part I
Battle of Fort Henry
Second Battle of Bull Run
Battle of Fredericksburg
Grey Edward
Briand Aristide
The American Civil War, 1862
1862 Part II
Rawlinson George
Ogai Mori
Ivan Turgenev: "Fathers and Sons"
Flaubert: "Salammbo"
Victor Hugo: "Les Miserables"
Barres Maurice
Maeterlinck Maurice
Hauptmann Gerhart
Wharton Edith
Schnitzler Arthur
Uhland Ludwig
1862 Part III
Albert Memorial, London
Manet: "Lola de Valence"
Manet: "La Musique aux Tuileries"
Nesterov Mikhail
Mikhail Nesterov
Klimt Gustav
Gustav Klimt
Rysselberghe Theo
Theo van Rysselberghe
Berlioz: "Beatrice et Benedict"
Debussy Claude
Debussy - Preludes
Claude Debussy
Delius Frederick
Frederick Delius - On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring
Frederick Delius
German Edward
Edward German - Melody in D flat major
Edward German
Kochel Ludwig
Kochel catalogue
Verdi: "La Forza del Destino"
1862 Part IV
Bragg William
Foucault Leon
Gatling Richard Jordan
Lamont Johann
Lenard Pnilipp
Sachs Julius
Palgrave William Gifford
The Arabian Desert
International Exhibition, London
1863 Part I
West Virginia
Emancipation Proclamation
Battle of Chancellorsville
Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address"
The American Civil War, 1863
1863 Part II
Isma'il Pasha
January Uprising
George I of Greece
Dost Mohammad Khan
Christian IX  of Denmark
Chamberlain Austen
Lloyd George David
Second Taranaki War
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
1863 Part III
Huxley: "Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature"
Charles Lyell: "The Antiquity of Man"
Massachusetts Agricultural College
D'Annunzio Gabriele
Bahr Hermann
Dehmel Richard
Hale Edward Everett
Edward Everett Hale: "Man without a Country"
Hope Anthony
Charles Kingsley: "The Water Babies"
Longfellow: "Tales of a Wayside Inn"
Quiller-Couch Arthur
Stanislavsky Constantin
Stanislavsky system
1863 Part IV
Stuck Franz
Manet: "Dejeuner sur l'herbe"
Manet: "Olympia"
Meurent Victorine-Louise
The "Salon des Refuses" in Paris
Art in Revolt
Impressionism Timeline
Signac Paul
Paul Signac
Munch Edvard
Edvard Munch
Berlioz: "Les Troyens"
Bizet: "Les Pecheurs de perles"
Mascagni Pietro
Pietro Mascagni: Cavalleria rusticana
Pietro Mascagni
Weingartner Felix
Felix von Weingartner: Symphony No 6
Felix Weingartner
1863 Part V
Billroth Theodor
Butterick Ebenezer
Ford Henry
Graham Thomas
National Academy of Sciences
Sorby Henry Clifton
The Football Association, London
Grand Prix de Paris
Hearst William Randolph
Yellow journalism
Pulitzer Joseph
History of photography
Alexandra of Denmark
Royce Henry
Cuthbert Ned
Coburn Joe
Mike McCoole
1864 Part I
Schleswig-Holstein Question
First Schleswig War
Second Schleswig War
Halleck Henry
Sherman William
Sand Creek massacre
Venizelos Eleutherios
Maximilian II of Bavaria
Louis II
First International Workingmen's Association
Confederate Army of Manhattan
The American Civil War, 1864
1864 Part II
Lombroso Cesare
Newman: "Apologia pro Vita Sua"
Syllabus of Errors
Dickens: "Our Mutual Friend"
Karlfeldt Erik Axel
Trollope: "The Small House at Allington"
Wedekind Frank
Zangwill Israel
1864 Part III
Stieglitz Alfred
History of photography
Dyce William
William Dyce
Jawlensky Alexey
Alexei von Jawlensky
Ranson Paul
Paul Ranson
Serusier Paul
Paul Serusier
Toulouse-Lautrec Henri
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
A More Tolerant Salon
Impressionism Timeline
Whistler: "Symphony in White, No. 2"
Roberts David
David Roberts "A Journey in the Holy Land"
D'Albert Eugen
Eugen d'Albert - Piano Concerto No.2
Eugen d’Albert
Foster Stephen
Stephen Foster - Beautiful Dreamer
Offenbach: "La Belle Helene"
Strauss Richard
Richard Strauss - Metamorphosen
Richard Strauss
Fry William Henry
William Henry Fry - Santa Claus Symphony
William Henry Fry - Niagara Symphony
1864 Part IV
Lake Albert
Bertrand Joseph
Nernst Walther
Wien Wilhelm
Rawat Nain Singh
The Surveyors
First Geneva Convention
Knights of Pythias
"Neue Freie Presse""
De Rossi Giovanni Battista
"In God We Trust"
Travers Stakes
Farragut David
1865 Part I
Union blockade in the American Civil War
Charleston, South Carolina in the American Civil War
Lee Robert Edward
Conclusion of the American Civil War
Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
Johnson Andrew
Causes of the Franco-Prussian War
Leopold II of Belgium
Harding Warren
George V of Great Britain
Ludendorff Erich
Free State–Basotho Wars
The American Civil War, 1865
1865 Part II
Baudrillart Henri
William Stanley Jevons: "The Coal Question"
Billings Josh
Belasco David
Campbell Patrick
Lewis Carroll: "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"
Dodge Mary Mapes
Mary Mapes Dodge: "Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates"
Kipling Rudyard
Rudyard Kipling
Merezhkovsky Dmitry
John Henry Newman: "Dream of Gerontius"
Mark Twain: "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County"
Walt Whitman: "Drum-Taps"
Yeats William Butler
1865 Part III
Serov Valentin
Valentin Serov
Wiertz Antoine
Antoine Wiertz
Vallotton Felix
Felix Vallotton
"Olympia" - a Sensation
Impressionism Timeline (1863-1899)
Nielsen Carl
Carl Nielsen - Aladdin Suite
Carl Nielsen
Glazunov Alexander
Glazunov - The Seasons
Alexander Glazunov
Dukas Paul
Paul Dukas "L'Apprenti Sorcier"
Paul Dukas
Meyerbeer: "L'Africaine"
Sibelius Jean
Jean Sibelius - Finlandia
Jean Sibelius
Wagner: "Tristan und Isolde"
1865 Part IV
Plucker Julius
Hyatt John Wesley
Kekule: structure of benzene
Lowe Thaddeus
Mendelian inheritance
Sechenov Ivan
Whymper Edward
The High Andes
 Bingham Hiram
Rohlfs Friedrich Gerhard
Open hearth furnace
Martin Pierre-Emile
Ku Klux Klan
"The Nation"
Marquess of Queensberry Rules
"San Francisco Examiner"
"San Francisco Chronicle"
Mitchell Maria
1866 Part I
Cuza Alexandru
"Monstrous coalition"
Carol I
Austro-Prussian War
Battle of Custoza
Battle of Trautenau
Battle of Koniggratz
Battle of Lissa
Cretan Revolt of 1866–1869
MacDonald Ramsay
Sun Yat-sen
1866 Part II
Croce Benedetto
Soderblom Nathan
Larousse Pierre
Larousse: Great Universal Dictionary of the 19th Century
Friedrich Lange: "History of Materialism"
Benavente Jacinto
Dostoevsky: "Crime and Punishment"
Hamerling Robert
Ibsen: "Brand"
Kingsley: "Hereward the Wake"
Rolland Romain
Wells Herbert
H.G. Wells
"The War of the Worlds"

"The Invisible Man"
"A Short History of the World"
1866 Part III
Bakst Leon
Leon Bakst
Fry Roger
Kandinsky Vassili
Vassili Kandinsky
A Defender Appears
Impressionism Timeline (1863-1899)
Busoni Ferruccio
Ferruccio Busoni - Berceuse Elegiaque
Ferruccio Busoni
Offenbach: "La Vie Parisienne"
Smetana: "The Bartered Bride"
Satie Eric
Erik Satie: Nocturnes
Eric Satie
1866 Part IV
Aeronautical Society of Great Britain
Morgan Thomas Hunt
Nicolle Charles
Werner Alfred
Whitehead Robert
Whitehead torpedo
Doudart de Lagree Ernest
Panic of 1866
Thomas Morris
MacGregor John
1867 Part I
Manchester Martyrs
Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867
Constitution Act, 1867
Alaska Purchase
North German Confederation
Reform Act of 1867
Battle of Mentana
Mary of Teck
Baldwin Stanley
Rathenau Walther
Pilsudski Joseph
1867 Part II
Bagehot Walter
Walter Bagehot: "The English Constitution"
Freeman Edward Augustus
Freeman: The History of the Norman Conquest of England
Marx: "Das Kapital"
Thoma Ludwig
Soseki Natsume
Russell George William
Reymont Wladislau
Bennett Arnold
Balmont Konstantin
Pirandello Luigi
Galsworthy John
Charles de Coster: "The Legend of Thyl Ulenspiegel"
Ouida: "Under Two Flags"
Trollope: "The Last Chronicle of Barset"
Turgenev: "Smoke"
Zola: "Therese Raquin"
Ibsen: "Peer Gynt"
1867 Part III
Delville Jean
Jean Delville
Kollwitz Kathe
Kathe Kollwitz
Nolde Emil
Emil Nolde
Bonnard Pierre
Pierre Bonnard
Manet's Personal Exhibition
Impressionism Timeline (1863-1899)
Bizet: "La Jolie Fille de Perth"
Gounod: "Romeo et Juliette"
Offenbach: "La Grande-Duchesse de Gerolstein"
Johann Strauss II: The "Blue Danube"
Toscanini Arturo
Verdi: "Don Carlos"
Granados Enrique
Enrique Granados - Spanish Dances
Enrique Granados
1867 Part IV
Curie Marie
Michaux Pierre
Monier Joseph
Brenner Railway
Mining industry of South Africa
Thurn and Taxis
Chambers John Graham
London Athletic Club
Barnardo Thomas John
1868 Part I
British Expedition to Abyssinia
Battle of Magdala
Tokugawa Yoshinobu
Tenure of Office Act
Province of Hanover
Russian Turkestan
Mihailo Obrenovic III
Milan I of Serbia
Glorious Revolution
Horthy Nicholas
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
1868 Part II
International Alliance of Socialist Democracy
Charles Darwin: "The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication"
Louisa May Alcott: "Little Women"
Robert Browning: "The Ring and the Book"
Wilkie Collins: "The Moonstone"
Dostoevsky: "The Idiot"
George Stefan
Gorki Maxim
Rostand Edmond
Edmond Rostand
"Cyrano De Bergerac"
1868 Part III
Bernard Emile
Emile Bernard
Vollard Ambroise
Slevogt Max
Max Slevogt
Vuillard Edouard
Edouard Vuillard
The Realist Impulse
Impressionism Timeline (1863-1899)
Bantock Granville
Bantock "Overture The Frogs"
Granville Bantock
Brahms: "Ein deutsches Requiem"
Schillings Max
Max von Schillings: Mona Lisa
Max von Schillings
Wagner: "Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg"
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 1
1868 Part IV
Lartet Louis
Haber Fritz
Millikan Robert Andrews
Richards Theodore William
Scott Robert Falcon
Armour Philip Danforth
Badminton House
Garvin James Louis
Harmsworth Harold
Trades Union Congress
"Whitaker's Almanack"
Sholes Christopher Latham
1869 Part I
Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant
French legislative election, 1869
Prohibition Party
Red River Rebellion
Chamberlain Neville
Gandhi Mahatma
1869 Part II
Matthew Arnold: "Culture and Anarchy"
Eduard Hartmann: "The Philosophy of the Unconscious"
Mill: "On The Subjection of Women"
First Vatican Council
Blackmore Richard Doddridge
Blackmore: "Lorna Doone"
Flaubert: "Sentimental Education"
Gide Andre
Gilbert: "Bab Ballads"
Halevy Ludovic
Bret Harte: "The Outcasts of Poker Flat"
Victor Hugo: "The Man Who Laughs"
Leacock Stephen
Mark Twain: "The Innocents Abroad"
Tolstoy: "War and Peace"
1869 Part III
Lutyens Edwin
Poelzig Hans
Carus Carl Gustav
Carl Gustav Carus
Somov Konstantin
Konstantin Somov
Matisse Henri
Henri Matisse
Manet Falls Foul of the Censor
Impressionism Timeline (1863-1899)
Bruckner: Symphony No. 0
Pfitzner Hans
Pfitzner - Nachts
Hans Pfitzner
Wagner Siegfried
Siegfried Wagner "Prelude to Sonnenflammen"
Richard Wagner: "Das Rheingold"
Roussel Albert
Albert Roussel - Bacchus et Ariane
Albert Roussel
Wood Henry
1869 Part IV
Francis Galton: "Hereditary Genius"
Periodic law
Nachtigal Gustav
Cincinnati Red Stockings
Girton College, Cambridge
1869 New Jersey vs. Rutgers football game
Co-operative Congress
Lesseps Ferdinand
Suez Canal

First inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant on the steps of the Capitol on March 4, 1869.
YEAR BY YEAR:  1800 - 1899
1869 Part I
Following a Turkish ultimatum, Greece agrees to leave Crete (see also: Cretan Revolt of 1866–1869)
Gen. Grant (Grant Ulysses) inaugurated as 18th President of the U.S.
Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant

The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant (Grant Ulysses) began during the turbulent Reconstruction period following the American Civil War. Grant was elected the 18th President of the United States in 1868 and was re-elected to the office in 1872, serving from March 4, 1869, to March 4, 1877.

Grant was a Republican, and his main supporters were the Radical and Stalwart factions. The United States was at peace with the world throughout the era, and was prosperous until the Panic of 1873, a severe national depression, that dominated Grant's second term. Grant bolstered the Executive Branch's enforcement powers by signing into law the Department of Justice and Office of Solicitor General that was implemented to protect the civil rights of African Americans. Grant expanded federal authority that protected African American civil rights against domestic terrorism in the South. Grant's presidency represented the Civil War values that included "union, freedom and equality." Grant's Reconstruction policy, however, was challenged by the complexities of using the U.S. Army to impose democracy and legal equality regardless of the resistance of Democrats in the South. Grant worked hard to ensure the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment that gave black men the right to vote. Grant's notable efforts as President included civil rights, civil service reform, and Indian policy. Grant's foreign policy under Hamilton Fish was successful and improved Anglo-American relations.

Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the U.S.
  Grant was opposed by the Liberal faction of the Republican Party, many of them founding fathers of the GOP, who denounced Grant for violating the party's emphasis on fighting corruption.[8] The Liberals insisted that Reconstruction had been successful, that slavery and secessionism were dead. Liberals demanded that Army troops should be withdrawn from the South so that normal political life could resume. The Liberals nominated long-time Republican spokesman Horace Greeley in 1872, depriving Grant of the intellectual base of the Republican Party. Greeley was quietly supported by the Democrats, but was decisively defeated by Grant. Rather than develop a cadre of trustworthy political advisers, Grant was overconfident in choosing his Cabinet; he relied heavily on former Army associates who had a thin understanding of politics and a weak sense of civilian ethics. His presidential reputation was severely damaged by repeated scandals and frauds.

Having struggled to be a self-made man, Grant was extremely loyal to himself and his family, while trusting of close military associates that in turn caused dissension among reformers whom he believed were plotting to overthrow his presidency. Grant dismissed three Cabinet members without notice or explanation. Two of his Cabinet secretaries (War and Navy), his personal secretary, and high officials he named to the Treasury department joined federal bribery or tax-evasion syndicates. Corruption charges were rampant in the Department of the Interior in 1874, until Grant appointed a reformer.

Grant often defended the culprits, rather than the integrity of government service, while he attacked their accusers. Middle-class public opinion, a key element in the Republican Party base, turned hostile to Grant. Some scholars, however, maintain that corruption charges were exaggerated during the Grant administration, and that Grant implemented civil service reform and ended the moiety system.

Grant played a role in thwarting the Gold Ring in 1869 and the prosecution of the Whiskey Ring in 1875. His Attorney General Edwards Pierrepont and Postmaster General John A. J. Creswell made sweeping reforms in their respected departments, and several of Grant's Cabinet initiated civil service in their own departments. After a false start with weak selections, Grant named to his Cabinet leading reformers including Hamilton Fish, Benjamin Bristow, Alphonso Taft, and Amos T. Akerman. Fish, as Secretary of State, negotiated the Treaty of Washington and was successful at keeping the United States out of trouble with Britain and Spain. Bristow, as Secretary of Treasury, ended the corruption of the Whiskey Ring where distillers and corrupt officials made millions from tax evasion. Taft, a brilliant jurist as Attorney General, successfully negotiated for bipartisan panel to peacefully settle the controversial Election of 1876. Grant and Attorney General Akerman enforced civil rights legislation that protected African Americans and destroyed the Ku Klux Klan. Grant encouraged peaceful Congressional negotiations after the controversial Election of 1876; signed the Electoral Commission Act of 1877; while the Compromise of 1877 ended Reconstruction.

First inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant on the steps of the Capitol on March 4, 1869.
Economically, Grant was a conservative who favored a hard-money, gold-based, anti-inflationary policy that entailed paying off the large national debt with gold. He reduced governmental spending, decreased the federal work force, and reduced the national debt, while tax revenues increased in the Treasury Department. During his second term in office, the Panic of 1873, caused by rampant railroad speculation, shook the nation's financial institutions; banks failed, prices fell, and unemployment surged. Before the Panic there had been eight years of tremendous industrial growth after the Civil War that fueled lavish money making schemes, personal greed, and national corruption. President Grant's contraction of money supply worsened the panic; the ensuing major U.S. depression that followed lasted for five years causing massive economic damage to the country. The Panic wiped out both the fortunes of business and corruption. Southern Reconstruction continued that included escalated sectional violence over the status of freedmen and fractured state party alliances and elections.

With the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, the West was wide open to expansionism that sometimes was challenged by hostile Native Americans. Grant implemented an innovative peace policy, though not always successful, with Native Americans.

  Hostilities took place with the Modoc War, the Red River War, and the Great Sioux War that culminated with the famous Battle of Little Bighorn where Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer was killed. In 1874, millions of buffalo were being slaughtered to make room for settlers and ranchers. Grant, who favored ranchers land use for domestic cattle, rejected legislation that would have limited the slaughter of the bison. After the fatal Modoc peace commission in 1873, Grant's Native American policy incorporated the military strategies favored by William T. Sherman and Phil Sheridan. Grant gave legislative support to the early suffragette movement.

Corruption was rampant in the Department of Indian Affairs under Secretary of Interior Columbus Delano. However, Grant and Secretary Delano did have success in the establishment of America's first national park, Yellowstone, and the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. The Interior Department corruption was cleaned up by Grant's Secretary Zachariah Chandler in 1875. Grant's presidential legacy has suffered due to his heavy-handed use of the U.S. Army to prop up his political allies in southern states. However, since the mid-1990s his presidential reputation has improved as historians emphasize his enforcement of African American civil rights in the South and his Peace policy towards Indians.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Parliamentary system reintroduced in France
French legislative election, 1869
Parliamentary elections were held in France on 31 May and 1 June 1869, with a second round on 6 and 7 June. These elections nominally resulted in a victory for the regime of the Second Empire, but the opposition strengthened its presence in the legislature. Nationwide, the regime won 55% of the vote. In Paris, the opposition parties (mostly Republicans) won 75% of the vote; however, the regime won large majorities in the countryside.
Party Votes % Seats
Government candidates (Liberals) 4,455,000 55.0 120
Government candidates (Authoritarians) 4,455,000 55.0 92
Opposition candidates (Legitimists) 3,543,000 45.0 41
Opposition candidates (Republicans) 3,543,000 45.0 30
Invalid/blank votes 127,000    
Total 8,125,000 100 283
Registered voters/turnout 10,416,666 78.1  
Source: Nohlen & Stöver, Kings and Presidents      
Subsequent Rioting (The "White Overalls" Riots)
On the nights of June 8–9, 1869, the worst rioting in fifteen years erupted in several cities throughout France. In Paris, on June 8, demonstrators assembled on the Boulevard Montmartre and sang the "Marseillaise" (banned under the Second Empire until the Franco-Prussian War); but that was over in an hour. In Belleville the crowd destroyed gas street lamps and shop fronts before marching down the Boulevard du Temple, where they attacked a police van, on their way to the Place de la Bastille, where thirteen people were arrested before order was restored at 2 a.m. by the sergents-de-ville (i.e. regular police). Many said that the police overreacted to the natural exuberance of the crowd at the favorable showing of liberal candidates in the election, and that the further disturbances on the 9th were in consequence. The crowds reached as far as the Place du Carrousel on at least one night, disrupting a gala soirée at the Tuileries Palace, although the emperor remained impassive in the face of a stream of telegrams and Émile Waldteufel's baton was steady. On the 10th, the Prefect of Police issued a proclamation saying that such disturbances would no longer be tolerated. Cavalry and infantry units were brought in to patrol the streets. A total of 1100 persons were arrested and confined for a time in Bicêtre fortress.

Similar disturbances took place on the 8th in Bordeaux and Arles, and on the 9th in Nantes.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

U.S. National Prohibition Party formed in Chicago
Prohibition Party

The Prohibition Party (PRO) is a political party in the United States best known for its historic opposition to the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages. It is the oldest existing third party in the US. The party was an integral part of the temperance movement. While never one of the leading parties in the United States, it was once an important force in the Third Party System during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It declined dramatically after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. The party earned only 519 votes in the 2012 presidential election.

The Prohibition Party was founded in 1869. Its first National Committee Chairman was John Russell of Michigan. It succeeded in getting communities and also many counties in the states to outlaw the production and sale of intoxicating beverages.

At the same time, its ideology broadened to include aspects of progressivism. The party contributed to the third-party discussions of the 1910s and sent Charles H. Randall to the 64th, 65th and 66th Congresses as the representative of California's 9th congressional district. Democrat Sidney J. Catts of Florida, after losing a close Democratic primary, used the Prohibition line to win election as Governor of Florida in 1916; he remained a Democrat.

The Prohibition Party's proudest moment came in 1919, with the passage of the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which outlawed the production, sale, transportation, import and export of alcohol. The era during which alcohol was illegal in the United States is known as "Prohibition".

During the Prohibition era, the Prohibition Party pressed for stricter enforcement of the prohibition laws. During the 1928 election, for example, it considered endorsing Republican Herbert Hoover rather than running its own candidate. However, by a 4–3 vote, its national executive committee voted to nominate their own candidate, William F. Varney, instead. They did this because they felt Hoover's stance on prohibition not strict enough. The Prohibition Party became even more critical of Hoover after he was elected President. By the 1932 election, party chairman David Leigh Colvin thundered that "The Republican wet plank [i.e. supporting the repeal of Prohibition] means that Mr. Hoover is the most conspicuous turncoat since Benedict Arnold." Hoover lost the election, but national prohibition was repealed anyway in 1933, with the 21st Amendment during the Roosevelt administration.

  Women and the Prohibition Party
The 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, did not pass until 1920. Yet, in 1869, the Prohibition Party became the first to accept women as party members and even gave women who attended its first national convention full delegate rights. This was the first time any party had afforded women this right. These women “spoke from the floor, entered debates, introduced resolutions, and voted on the party platform.” Women’s suffrage appeared on the Prohibition Party platform in 1872. In 1892, the platform included the idea of equal pay for equal work. By contrast, women’s suffrage did not appear on the platform of either the Democratic or Republican platform until 1916. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), which later became instrumental in the passage of the 18th Amendment, started out as the women’s branch of the Prohibition Party. It went on to become more influential than the party itself. It was, “the largest women’s organization of the nineteenth century and the heart of the organized demand for prohibition and women’s rights as well as for prison and labor reform, for public support for neglected children, and for peace – in short for a transformed society dedicated to social justice."

Some of the most important women involved in this movement were:

Marie C. Brehm – Vice Presidential candidate in 1924 – first legally qualified woman ever to be nominated for this position.
Rachel Bubar Kelly – Vice Presidential candidate in 1996.
Susanna Madora Salter – First female mayor in the United States. Elected in Argonia, Kansas in 1860.
Eliza Stewart – Her successes in the courtroom were one reason why the Prohibition Party began to embrace lawsuits as a means to get their message across. Part of the Woman's Crusade. She went on to hold important positions within the party as well as help guide WCTU development, along with women such as Mattie McClellan Brown, Harriet Goff, and Amanda Way.

C. Augusta Morse – In regards to the Woman’s Crusade, she claimed it was, “‘the dawn of a new era in women’s relation to reform. Never again can women be silenced by the ghost of the old dogma that her voice is not to be heard in public.”

Frances Willard – One of the founders of the WCTU. It is often forgotten that Willard made great advances before her involvement in the temperance movement. In 1871 she became the first female president of a college that granted degrees to women: Evanston College. She helped found the Association for the Advancement of Women in 1873 before she began her work in the temperance movement in 1874. After founding the WCTU, she became the first corresponding secretary. In 1879, she became the second president of the WCTU. During her 19 years as president, the WCTU became the largest organization of women in the United States. In 1883, she helped found the World’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Under her leadership, the WCTU advocated not only for temperance, but also for women’s suffrage, equal pay for equal work, the eight-hour workday, world peace, and the protection of women and children in the workplace, among other things. The WCTU also created shelters for victims of abuse and free kindergartens. She later became the first woman ever to be featured in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol and was honored in 2000 by the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

National Prohibition Convention, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1892.
The Prohibition Party has faded into obscurity since World War II. When it briefly changed its name to the "National Statesman Party" in 1977 (it reversed the change in 1980), Time magazine suggested that it was "doubtful" that the name change would "hoist the party out of the category of political oddity."

The Prohibition Party has continued running presidential candidates every four years, but its vote totals have steadily dwindled.

It last received more than 100,000 votes for president in 1948, and the 1976 election was the last time the party received more than 10,000 votes for president. In 2012, its presidential nominee received only 519 votes.

  Secession of 2003
The Prohibition Party experienced a schism in 2003, as the party's prior presidential candidate, Earl Dodge, incorporated a rival party called the National Prohibition Party in Colorado. Dodge held a rival nominating convention in his living room in August 2003, attended by eight people, and was nominated as the president of this rival party.

In February 2004, Dodge's rivals nominated Gene C. Amondson for President. Neither the Dodge faction nor the Amondson faction recognized the other as legitimate. Amondson filed under the Prohibition banner in Louisiana. Dodge ran under the name of the historic Prohibition Party in Colorado, while the Concerns of People Party allowed Amondson to run on its line against Dodge.

Amondson received 1,944 votes, nationwide, while Dodge garnered 140.

The death of Dodge in November 2007 left the Dodge faction without a presidential nominee. In the spring of 2008, the Dodge faction nominated Amondson for President, but they retained one of their own, Howard Lydick, as their vice presidential nominee.

In recent years, the two factions have been fighting over payments dedicated to the Prohibition Party by George Pennock in 1930. The fund pays approximately $8000 per year.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Red River Rebellion in Canada
Red River Rebellion

The Red River Rebellion (or the Red River Resistance, Red River Uprising, or First Riel Rebellion) was the sequence of events related to the 1869 establishment of a provisional government by the Métis leader Louis Riel and his followers at the Red River Colony, in what is now the Canadian province of Manitoba.

The Rebellion was the first crisis the new government faced following Canadian Confederation in 1867. The Canadian government had bought Rupert's Land from the Hudson's Bay Company in 1869 and appointed an English-speaking governor, William McDougall. He was opposed by the French-speaking, mostly Métis inhabitants of the settlement. Before the land was officially transferred to Canada, McDougall sent out surveyors to plot the land according to the square township system used in Ontario. The Métis, led by Riel, prevented McDougall from entering the territory. McDougall declared that the Hudson's Bay Company was no longer in control of the territory and that Canada had asked for the transfer of sovereignty to be postponed. The Métis created a provisional government, to which they invited an equal number of Anglophone representatives. Riel negotiated directly with the Canadian government to establish Manitoba as a province.

Meanwhile, Riel's men arrested members of a pro-Canadian faction who had resisted the provisional government. They included an Orangeman named Thomas Scott. Riel's government tried and convicted Scott, and executed him for threatening to murder Louis Riel. Canada and the Assiniboia provisional government soon negotiated an agreement. In 1870, the national legislature passed the Manitoba Act, allowing the Red River Colony to enter Confederation as the province of Manitoba. The Act also incorporated some of Riel's demands, such as provision of separate French schools for Métis children and protection for the practice of Catholicism.

After reaching agreement, Canada sent a military expedition to Manitoba to enforce federal authority. Now known as the Wolseley Expedition (or Red River Expedition), it consisted of Canadian militia and British regular soldiers led by Colonel Garnet Wolseley. Outrage grew in Ontario over Scott's execution, and many eastern folk demanded that Wolseley's expedition arrest Riel for murder and suppress what they considered to be rebellion. Riel peacefully withdrew from Fort Garry the day the troops arrived. Warned by many that the soldiers would harm him, and denied amnesty for his political leadership of the rebellion, Riel fled to the USA. The arrival of troops marked the end of the Rebellion.

During the late 1860s the Red River Colony of Rupert's Land was changing rapidly. It had developed under the aegis of the Hudson's Bay Company, which had a continent-wide network and effectively owned this territory. Historically, the population had been composed mainly of Francophone Métis, who developed an ethnicity of mixed First Nations-French descent during the decades of the fur trade, gradually marrying among themselves during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Many of the men served as trappers, guides and interpreters to fur traders, as well as developing farms. Métis women also were sometimes active in the trade, as among several families in Sault Ste. Marie in the early 19th century in which the husbands were European. The Métis were usually French-speaking and Roman Catholic.

From the later 18th century, as English and Scots men entered the fur trade, they too married into the Ojibwe and other First Nations in this region. Their mixed-race descendants were generally English-speaking known as the "country born" (also as Anglo-Métis). The third group of settlers to the region were a small number of Presbyterian Scottish settlers. More Anglophone Protestants had begun to settle there from Ontario.

The newer settlers were generally insensitive to Métis culture and hostile to Roman Catholicism, and many were advocates of Canadian expansionism. At the same time, many Americans migrated there, some of whom favoured annexation of the territory by the United States. Against this backdrop of religious, nationalistic, and racial tensions, political uncertainty was high. To forestall United States expansionism, the British and Canadian governments had been for some time negotiating the transfer of Rupert's Land from the Hudson's Bay Company to Canada.

The Rupert's Land Act 1868 authorized the transfer. On December 1, 1869, Canada purchased the territory. The terms of political authority were unresolved.

In anticipation of the transfer, the minister of public works, William McDougall, who along with George-Étienne Cartier had been instrumental in securing Rupert's Land for Canada, ordered a survey party to the Red River Colony.

Catholic Bishop Taché, the Anglican bishop of Rupert's land Robert Machray, and the HBC governor of Assiniboia William Mactavish all warned the government that such surveys would precipitate unrest. Headed by Colonel John Stoughton Dennis, the survey party arrived at Fort Garry on August 20, 1869. The Métis were anxious about it, as many did not possess clear title to their lands but held a right of occupancy. In addition, the lots had been laid out according to the seigneurial colonial system, with long, narrow lots fronting the river, rather than the square lots preferred by the English. They took the survey to be a forerunner of increased Canadian migration to the territory, which the Métis perceived as a threat to their way of life — more specifically, they feared losing their farms. The larger fear was for losing their language and Catholic religion, and facing marginalisation and discrimination in what had been their home territory.
Riel emerges as a leader
The Canadian government appointed the notoriously anti-French McDougall as the Lieutenant Governor of the North-West Territories-designate on September 28, 1869, in anticipation of a formal transfer to take effect on December 1. This increased tensions among the Métis. Emerging as a leader, Louis Riel, who had been formally educated in European-style schools, denounced the survey in a speech delivered in late August from the steps of Saint-Boniface Cathedral. On October 11, 1869, Riel and other Métis disrupted the survey's work. On October 16 this group organized as the "Métis National Committee" to represent Métis interests. Riel was elected secretary, John Bruce as president, and two representatives were elected from each parish.

Because the Hudson's Bay Company's Council of Assiniboia still had authority over the area, its representatives summoned Riel on October 25 to explain the actions of the committee. Riel declared that any attempt by McDougall to enter would be blocked unless the Canadians first negotiated terms with the Métis and with the general population of the settlement.

On November 2 under the command of Ambroise-Dydime Lépine, the Métis turned back McDougall's party near the United States border and forced them to retreat to Pembina, Dakota Territory.

Louis Riel in 1884
The number of Riel's followers had grown rapidly. That same day Riel led about 400 Métis in seizing Fort Garry without bloodshed.

Residents of the Red River Colony disagreed over how to negotiate with Canada; in particular, the French- and English-speaking inhabitants did not have a consensus on how to proceed. In a conciliatory gesture, Riel on November 6 asked the Anglophones to select delegates from each of their parishes to attend a convention with the Métis representatives. After few accomplishments at the first meeting, some of the Anglophone delegates expressed displeasure at Riel's treatment of McDougall.

On November 16, the Council of Assiniboia made a final attempt to assert its authority when Governor Mactavish issued a proclamation ordering the Métis to lay down their arms. Instead, on November 23 Riel proposed the formation of a provisional government to enter into direct negotiations with Canada. The Anglophone delegates requested adjournment to discuss matters.

On December 1, McDougall proclaimed that the Hudson's Bay Company was no longer in control of Rupert's Land, and that he was the new lieutenant-governor. This proclamation was to later prove problematic, as it effectively ended the authority of the Council, while failing to establish Canadian authority. Unbeknownst to McDougall, the transfer had been postponed once news of the unrest reached Ottawa.

Near the middle of December 1869, Riel presented the convention with a list of 14 rights as a condition of union. These included representation in Parliament, a bilingual legislature and chief justice, and recognition of certain land claims. While the convention did not adopt the list at the time, once the list of rights was generally known, the majority of anglophones accepted most of the demands as reasonable.

While much of the settlement was moving toward the Métis point of view, a passionately pro-Canadian minority was becoming more resistant. It was loosely organised as the Canadian Party and led by Dr. John Christian Schultz and Charles Mair. Colonel Dennis and Major Charles Boulton also supported it. McDougall appointed Dennis to raise a militia to arrest the Métis who were occupying Upper Fort Garry. The anglophone settlers largely ignored this call to arms, and Dennis withdrew to Lower Fort Garry. Schultz, however, was emboldened to fortify his house and store, and attracted approximately 50 recruits.

Riel took the threat seriously and ordered Schultz's home surrounded. The resisters surrendered on December 7 and were imprisoned in Fort Garry. Given the unrest and absence of a clear authority, the Métis National Committee declared a provisional government on December 8. Having received notification of the delay in transfer, McDougall and Dennis departed for Ontario on December 18. Major Boulton fled to Portage la Prairie.


The Métis provisional government
Provisional government
In Ottawa, the Governor General Lord Lisgar had, at Macdonald's behest, proclaimed an amnesty on December 6 for all in Red River who would lay down their arms. He dispatched the Abbé Jean-Baptiste Thibault and Charles-René d’Irumberry de Salaberry on a mission of reconciliation, but failed to give them authority to negotiate on behalf of the Government. Macdonald appointed HBC representative Donald Alexander Smith as special commissioner with greater authority to negotiate.

On December 27, John Bruce resigned as president of the provisional government, and Riel was elected president. On the same day Donald Smith arrived in the settlement, followed shortly by de Salaberry, joining Thibault, who had arrived on Christmas Day. They met with Riel on January 5, 1870, but reached no conclusions. The next day, Riel and Smith had another meeting. At this time Smith concluded that negotiation with the committee would be fruitless. He maneuvered to bypass them and present the Canadian position at a public meeting.

Meetings were held on January 19 and January 20. With Riel acting as translator, Smith assured the large audiences of the Canadian government's goodwill, intention to grant representation, and willingness to extend concessions with respect to land claims. With the settlement now solidly behind him, Riel proposed the formation of a new convention of forty representatives, split evenly between French- and English-speaking settlers, to consider Smith's instructions. This was accepted. A committee of six outlined a more comprehensive list of rights, which the convention accepted on February 3. Following meetings on February 7 wherein the new list of rights were presented to Thibault, de Salaberry, and Smith, Smith proposed that a delegation be sent to Ottawa to engage in direct negotiations with Canada, a suggestion eagerly accepted by Riel. At this time Riel also proposed that the provisional government should be reformed so as to be more inclusive of both language groups. A constitution enshrining these goals was accepted by the convention on February 10. An elected assembly was established, consisting of 12 representatives from anglophone parishes and 12 representatives from francophone parishes.

Canadian resistance and the execution of Scott
Despite the progress on the political front and the inclusion of Anglophones within the provisional government, the Canadian contingent was not yet silenced. On January 9 many prisoners escaped from the prison at Fort Garry, including Charles Mair, Thomas Scott and ten others. John Schultz escaped on January 23. By February 15, Riel freed the remaining prisoners on parole to refrain from engaging in political agitation. Schultz, Mair, and Scott intended to continue to work to depose the Métis from power.

Mair and Scott proceeded to the Canadian settlements surrounding Portage la Prairie, where they met Boulton, while Schultz sought recruits in the Canadian parishes downstream. On February 12, Boulton led a party from Portage la Prairie to rendezvous at Kildonan with Schultz's men. They intended to overthrow the provisional government. Boulton had misgivings, and turned the party back. Riel's forces detected the men, and on February 17, Boulton, Scott and 46 other men were captured near Fort Garry. On hearing this news, Schultz and Mair fled to Ontario.
An artist's depiction of the execution of Scott,
Riel demanded that an example be made of Boulton. He was tried and sentenced to death for his interference with the provisional government. Intercessions on his behalf by Donald Smith and others resulted in his pardon, but only after Riel obtained assurances from Smith that he would persuade the English parishes to elect provisional representatives. However, the prisoner Thomas Scott, an Orangeman, interpreted Boulton's pardon as weakness on the part of the Métis, whom he regarded with open contempt. After he repeatedly quarrelled with his guards, they insisted that he be tried for insubordination. At his trial, which was overseen by Ambroise-Dydime Lépine, he was found guilty of insulting the president, defying the authority of the provisional government, and fighting with his guards. He was sentenced to death despite the fact that these were not considered capital crimes at the time. Smith and Boulton asked Riel to commute the sentence, but Smith reported that Riel responded to his pleas by saying

"I have done three good things since I have commenced; I have spared Boulton's life at your instance, I pardoned Gaddy, and now I shall shoot Scott."

Scott was executed by a firing squad on March 4, 1870. Historians have debated Riel's motivations for allowing the execution, as they consider it his one great political blunder. His own justification was that he felt it necessary to demonstrate to the Canadians that the Métis must be taken seriously.


Canada after the creation of Manitoba by the Manitoba Act of 1870
Creation of Manitoba
Upon receiving news of the unrest, Bishop Taché was recalled from Rome. He arrived back in the colony on March 8, whereupon he conveyed to Riel his mistaken impression that the December amnesty would apply to both Riel and Lépine. On March 15 he read to the elected assembly a telegram from Joseph Howe indicating that the government found the demands in the list of rights to be "in the main satisfactory". Following the preparation of a final list of rights that included new demands such as a general amnesty for all members of the provisional government and provisions for separate francophone schools, delegates Abbé Joseph-Noël Ritchot, Judge John Black and Alfred Henry Scott departed for Ottawa on March 23 and 24.

Shortly after this, Mair and Schultz arrived in Toronto, Ontario, and with the assistance of George Taylor Denison III immediately set about inflaming anti-Métis and anti-Catholic sentiment over the execution of Scott in the editorial pages of the Ontario press. Nevertheless, Macdonald had decided before the provisional government was established that Canada must negotiate with the Métis. Although the delegates were arrested following their arrival in Ottawa on April 11 on charges of abetting murder, they were quickly released. They soon entered into direct talks with Macdonald and Cartier, wherein Ritchot emerged as an effective negotiator; an agreement enshrining many of the demands in the list of rights was soon reached. This formed the basis for the Manitoba Act of May 12, 1870, which admitted Manitoba into the Canadian confederation on July 15. Significantly however, Ritchot could not secure a clarification of the Governor General's amnesty — anger over Scott's execution was growing rapidly in Ontario, and any such guarantee was not politically expedient. The delegates returned to Manitoba with only a promise of a forthcoming amnesty.

  The Wolseley expedition
A military expedition had in any case been decided on as a means of exercising Canadian authority in the Red River settlement and dissuading the Minnesota expansionists: in May it was embarked, under Colonel Garnet Wolseley, and made its way up the Great Lakes.

Ontarians especially looked on the purpose of the Wolseley Expedition as the suppression of rebellion, although the government described it as an "errand of peace".

Knowing he would be arrested and charged with criminal acts, and even believing that members of the Canadian militia in the expedition meant to lynch him, Riel and his followers fled hurriedly when the troops arrived unexpectedly at Fort Garry on August 24 in a pouring rain.

The arrival of the expedition at Fort Garry marked the effective end of the Red River Rebellion.

The Red River resistance was only described as a rebellion after sentiment grew in Ontario against the execution of Thomas Scott.

Historian A.G. Morice suggests that the phrase "Red River Rebellion" owes its persistence to alliteration, a quality that made it attractive for publication in newspaper headlines (Critical History of The Red River Insurrection [1935]).

The word "resistance", though decidedly less dramatic, retains the alliterative character of the earlier phrase and is generally preferred by the majority of contemporary academic historians, as it more accurately describes the particulars of the political situation at the time.


The Red River Expedition at Kakabeka Falls, by Frances Anne Hopkins, 1877.
In 1875, Riel was formally exiled from Canada for five years. Under pressure from Quebec, the government of Sir John A. Macdonald took no more vigorous action. Riel was elected to the Canadian parliament three times while in exile, but never took his seat. He returned to Canada in 1885 to lead the ill-fated North-West Rebellion. He was subsequently tried and convicted for high treason and executed by hanging.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chamberlain Neville

Arthur Neville Chamberlain FRS (18 March 1869 – 9 November 1940) was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the German-speaking Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany. However, when Adolf Hitler later invaded Poland, the UK declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939, and Chamberlain led Britain through the first eight months of World War II.

After working in business and local government and after a short spell as Director of National Service in 1916 and 1917, Chamberlain followed his father, Joseph Chamberlain, and older half-brother, Austen Chamberlain, in becoming a member of parliament in the 1918 general election at age 49. He declined a junior ministerial position, remaining a backbencher until 1922. He was rapidly promoted in 1923 to Minister of Health and then Chancellor of the Exchequer. After a short Labour-led government, he returned as Minister of Health, introducing a range of reform measures from 1924 to 1929. He was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in the National Government in 1931.

When Stanley Baldwin retired in May 1937, Chamberlain took his place as Prime Minister. His premiership was dominated by the question of policy toward the increasingly aggressive Germany, and his actions at Munich were widely popular among Britons at the time. When Hitler continued his aggression, Chamberlain pledged Britain to defend Poland's independence if the latter were attacked, an alliance that brought Britain into war when Germany attacked Poland in 1939. Chamberlain resigned the premiership on 10 May 1940 after the Allies were forced to retreat from Norway, as he believed a government supported by all parties was essential, and the Labour and Liberal parties would not join a government headed by him. He was succeeded by Winston Churchill but remained very well regarded in Parliament, especially among Conservatives. Before ill health forced him to resign he was an important member of Churchill's War Cabinet, heading it in the new premier's absence. Chamberlain died of cancer six months after leaving the premiership.

Chamberlain's reputation remains controversial among historians, with the initial high regard for him being entirely eroded by books such as Guilty Men, published in July 1940, which blamed Chamberlain and his associates for the Munich accord and for allegedly failing to prepare the country for war. Most historians in the generation following Chamberlain's death held similar views, led by Churchill in The Gathering Storm. Some recent historians have taken a more favourable perspective of Chamberlain and his policies, citing government papers released under the Thirty Year Rule. Nevertheless, Chamberlain is still unfavourably ranked amongst British Prime Ministers.


Arthur Neville Chamberlain
  Early life and political career (1869–1918)
Childhood and businessman

Chamberlain was born on 18 March 1869 in a house called Southbourne in the Edgbaston district of Birmingham. He was the only son of the second marriage of Joseph Chamberlain, who later became Mayor of Birmingham and a Cabinet minister. His mother was Florence Kenrick. Joseph Chamberlain had had another son, Austen Chamberlain, by his first marriage. Neville Chamberlain was educated at Rugby School. Joseph Chamberlain then sent Neville to Mason College (the future University of Birmingham). Neville Chamberlain had little interest in his studies there, and in 1889 his father apprenticed him to a firm of accountants. Within six months he became a salaried employee. In an effort to recoup diminished family fortunes Joseph Chamberlain sent his younger son to establish a sisal plantation on Andros Island in the Bahamas. Neville Chamberlain spent six years there but the plantation was a failure, and Joseph Chamberlain lost £50,000. On his return to England, Neville Chamberlain entered business purchasing (with assistance from his family) Hoskins & Company, a manufacturer of metal ship berths. Chamberlain served as managing director of Hoskins for 17 years during which time the company prospered. He also involved himself in civic activities in Birmingham. In 1906, as Governor of Birmingham's General Hospital, and along with "no more than fifteen" other dignitaries, Chamberlain became a founding member of the national United Hospitals Committee of the British Medical Association. In 1910 he fell in love with Anne Cole, a distant relative by marriage, and the following year married her. The two had a son and a daughter.
Entry into politics
Chamberlain initially showed little interest in politics though his father and half-brother were in Parliament. During the "Khaki election" of 1900 he made speeches in support of Joseph Chamberlain's Liberal Unionists. The Liberal Unionists were allied with the Conservatives and later merged with them under the name "Unionist Party", which in 1925 became known as the "Conservative and Unionist Party". In 1911 Neville Chamberlain successfully stood as a Liberal Unionist for Birmingham City Council for the All Saints' Ward, located within his father's parliamentary constituency.

Chamberlain was made chairman of the Town Planning Committee. Under Chamberlain's direction Birmingham soon adopted one of the first town planning schemes in Britain. The start of war in 1914 prevented implementation of his plans. In 1915, Chamberlain became Lord Mayor of Birmingham. Apart from his father Joseph, five of Chamberlain's uncles had also attained the chief Birmingham civic dignity: they were Joseph's brother Richard Chamberlain, William and George Kenrick, Charles Beale, who had been four times Lord Mayor and Sir Thomas Martineau. As a Lord Mayor in wartime, Chamberlain had a huge burden of work and he insisted that his councillors and officials work equally hard. He halved the Lord Mayor's expense allowance and cut back on the number of civic functions expected of the incumbent.

In 1915 Chamberlain was appointed member of the Central Control Board on liquor traffic. In December 1916 the Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, offered Chamberlain the new position of Director of National Service with responsibility for co-ordinating conscription and ensuring that essential war industries were able to function with sufficient workforces. However, his tenure was marked by conflict with Lloyd George and in August 1917, having received little support from the Prime Minister, Chamberlain resigned. The relationship between Chamberlain and Lloyd George would be one thenceforth of hatred.

Chamberlain decided to stand for the House of Commons, and was adopted as Unionist candidate for Birmingham Ladywood. After the war ended, a general election was called almost immediately. He was elected with almost 70% of the vote and a majority of 6,833. At age 49 he is still the oldest Parliamentary debutant to later become Prime Minister.


Arthur Neville Chamberlain.
1929 portrait by William Orpen
  MP and Minister (1919–37)
Rise from the backbench

Chamberlain threw himself into Parliamentary work, begrudging the times when he was unable to attend debates and spending much time on committee work. He was chairman of the national Unhealthy Areas Committee (1919–21) and in that role, had visited the slums of London, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool and Cardiff. Consequently, in March 1920 he was offered a junior post at the Ministry of Health by Bonar Law on behalf of the Prime Minister, but was unwilling to serve under Lloyd George. Chamberlain was offered no further posts during Lloyd George's premiership. When Bonar Law resigned as party leader Austen Chamberlain took his place as head of the Unionists in Parliament. Unionist leaders were willing to fight the 1922 election in coalition with the Lloyd George Liberals, but on 19 October Unionist MPs held a meeting at which they voted to fight the election as a single party. Lloyd George resigned, as did Austen Chamberlain, and Bonar Law was recalled from retirement to lead the Unionists as Prime Minister.

Many high-ranking Unionists refused to serve under Bonar Law to the benefit of Chamberlain who rose over the course of ten months from backbencher to Chancellor of the Exchequer. Bonar Law initially appointed Chamberlain Postmaster General and Chamberlain was sworn of the Privy Council. When Sir Arthur Griffith-Boscawen, the Minister of Health, lost his seat in the 1922 general election and failed to win a by-election in March 1923, Bonar Law offered the position within the Cabinet to Chamberlain.

Two months later, Bonar Law was diagnosed with advanced, terminal throat cancer. He immediately resigned, and was replaced by Chancellor of the Exchequer Stanley Baldwin. In August 1923, Baldwin promoted Chamberlain to the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Chamberlain served only five months in the office before the Conservatives were defeated in the 1923 general election. Ramsay MacDonald became the first Labour Prime Minister, but the Labour government fell within months necessitating another general election. Chamberlain narrowly defeated Labour candidate Oswald Mosley (who later led the British Union of Fascists). Believing he would lose if he stood again in Ladywood, Chamberlain arranged to be adopted for Birmingham Edgbaston, the district of the city where he was born and which was a much safer seat which he would hold for the rest of his life. The Unionists won the election, but Chamberlain declined to serve again as Chancellor, preferring his former position as Minister of Health.

Within two weeks of his appointment as Minister of Health Chamberlain presented the Cabinet with an agenda containing 25 pieces of legislation he hoped to see enacted. Before he left office in 1929, 21 of the 25 bills had passed into law. Chamberlain sought the abolition of the elected Poor Law Boards of Guardians which administered relief—and which in some areas were responsible for rates. Many of the Boards were controlled by Labour, and such Boards had defied the government by distributing relief funds to the able-bodied unemployed. In 1929 Chamberlain initiated legislation to abolish the Poor Law boards entirely. Chamberlain spoke in the Commons for two and a half hours on the second reading of the Bill, and when he concluded he was applauded by all parties. The Bill passed into law.

Though Chamberlain struck a conciliatory note during the 1926 General Strike, in general he had poor relations with the Labour opposition. Future Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee complained that Chamberlain "always treated us like dirt", and Chamberlain in April 1927 wrote: "More and more do I feel an utter contempt for their lamentable stupidity." His poor relations with the Labour Party later played a major part in his downfall as Prime Minister.

Opposition and second term as Chancellor
Baldwin called a general election for 30 May 1929 which resulted in a hung parliament, with Labour holding the most seats. Baldwin and his government resigned and Labour leader Ramsay MacDonald (1866–1937) took office. In 1931, the MacDonald government faced a serious crisis, as the May Report revealed that the budget was unbalanced, with an expected shortfall of £120 million. On 24 August 1931 the Labour government resigned and MacDonald formed a National Government supported by most Conservative MPs. Chamberlain once again returned to the Ministry of Health.

After the 1931 general election, in which supporters of the National Government (mostly the Conservatives) won an overwhelming victory, MacDonald designated Chamberlain as Chancellor. Chamberlain proposed a 10% tariff on foreign goods and lower or no tariffs on goods from the colonies and the Dominions. Joseph Chamberlain had advocated a similar policy, "Imperial Preference". On 4 February 1932 Neville Chamberlain laid his bill before the House of Commons. Chamberlain concluded his address by noting the appropriateness of his seeking to enact his father's proposal. At the end of the speech, Sir Austen Chamberlain walked down from the backbenches and shook his brother's hand. The Import Duties Act 1932 passed Parliament easily.

Chamberlain presented his first budget in April 1932. He maintained the severe budget cuts that had been agreed to at the inception of the National Government. Interest on the war debt had been a major cost in each budget. Chamberlain was able to reduce the interest rate on most of Britain's war debt from 5% to 3.5%. Between 1932 and 1938, Chamberlain halved the percentage of the budget devoted to payment of interest on the war debt.

  Chamberlain hoped that a cancellation of the war debt owed to the United States could be negotiated. In June 1933, Britain hosted the World Monetary and Economic Conference. The Conference came to nothing. US President Franklin Roosevelt sent word that he would not consider any war debt cancellation.
By 1934, Chamberlain was able to declare a budget surplus and restore many of the cuts in unemployment compensation and civil servant salaries he had made after taking office. He told the Commons "We have now finished the story of Bleak House and are sitting down this afternoon to enjoy the first chapter of Great Expectations."

The Unemployed Assistance Board (established by the Unemployment Act 1934) was largely Chamberlain's creation and he wished to see the issue of unemployment assistance removed from party political argument. Moreover, Chamberlain "saw the importance of 'providing some interest in life for the large numbers of men never likely to get work', and out of this realisation was to come the responsibility of the U.A.B. for the "welfare", not merely the maintenance, of the unemployed".

Defence spending had been heavily cut in Chamberlain's early budgets. By 1935, faced with a resurgent Germany under Hitler's leadership (see German re-armament), he was convinced of the need for rearmament. Chamberlain especially urged the strengthening of the Royal Air Force, realising that Britain's traditional bulwark, the English Channel, was no defence against air power.

In 1935, MacDonald stood down as Prime Minister, while Baldwin became Prime Minister for the third time. In the 1935 general election the Conservative-dominated National Government lost 90 seats from the massive majority of 1931, but still retained an overwhelming majority of 255 in the House of Commons.

During the campaign, deputy Labour leader Arthur Greenwood had attacked Chamberlain for spending money on rearmament stating that the rearmament policy was "the merest scaremongering; disgraceful in a statesman of Mr. Chamberlain's responsible position, to suggest that more millions of money needed to be spent on armaments".

Chamberlain is believed to have had a significant role in the 1936 Edward VIII abdication crisis. He wrote in his diary that Wallis Simpson, Edward VIII's intended wife, was "an entirely unscrupulous woman who is not in love with the King but is exploiting him for her own purposes. She has already ruined him in money and jewels ..." In common with the rest of the Cabinet, except Duff Cooper, he agreed with Baldwin that the King should abdicate if he married Simpson and on 6 December he and Baldwin both stressed the King should make his decision before Christmas; by one account, he believed that the uncertainty was "hurting the Christmas trade". The King eventually abdicated on the 10th, four days after the meeting.

Soon after the abdication Baldwin announced that he would remain until shortly after the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. On 28 May, two weeks after the Coronation, Baldwin resigned, advising the King to send for Chamberlain. Sir Austen did not live to see his brother's final "climb ... to the top of the greasy pole", having died two months earlier.


Arthur Neville Chamberlain.
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
  Premiership (1937–40)
Upon his accession Chamberlain considered calling a general election, but with three and a half years remaining in the then current Parliament's term decided to wait. At age 68, he was the second-eldest person in the 20th century (behind Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman) to become Prime Minister for the first time, and was widely seen as a caretaker who would lead the Conservative Party until the next election, and then step down in favour of a younger man, with Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden a likely candidate. From the start of Chamberlain's premiership a number of would-be successors were rumoured to be jockeying for position. Chamberlain had disliked what he considered to be an overly sentimental attitude by both Baldwin and MacDonald on Cabinet appointments and reshuffles. Although he had worked closely with the President of the Board of Trade, Walter Runciman over the tariff issue, Chamberlain dismissed him from his post, offering Runciman the token position of Lord Privy Seal which an angry Runciman declined. Runciman, a member of the Liberal National Party, was thought by Chamberlain to be lazy. Soon after taking office, Chamberlain instructed his ministers to prepare two-year policy programmes. These reports were to be integrated with the intent of co-ordinating the passage of legislation through the current Parliament, the term of which was to expire in November 1940.
At the time of his succession Chamberlain's personality was not well known to the public, though he had made annual budget broadcasts for six years, which, according to Chamberlain biographer Robert Self, appeared relaxed and modern, showing an ability to speak directly to the camera.
Chamberlain had few friends among his parliamentary colleagues. An attempt by his Parliamentary Private Secretary, Lord Dunglass (later Prime Minister himself as Alec Douglas-Home) to bring him to the Smoking Room in the Commons to socialise with his colleagues, ended in embarrassing silence. Chamberlain compensated for these shortcomings by devising the most sophisticated press management system employed by a Prime Minister up to that time, with officials at Number 10 led by his chief of press George Steward, convincing members of the press that they were colleagues sharing power and insider knowledge, and should espouse the government line.
Domestic policy
Chamberlain saw his elevation to the premiership as the final glory in a career as a domestic reformer, not realising that he would be remembered for foreign policy decisions. One reason he sought the settlement of European issues was in the hope it would allow him to concentrate on domestic affairs.

Soon after attaining the premiership, Chamberlain obtained passage of the Factories Act 1937. This act was aimed at bettering working conditions in factories and placed limits on the working hours of women and children. In 1938, Parliament enacted the Coal Act 1938, which allowed for nationalisation of coal deposits. Another major piece of legislation passed that year was the Holidays with Pay Act. Though the act only recommended that employers give workers a week off with pay, the Act caused the great expansion of holiday camps and other leisure accommodation for the working classes. The Housing Act of 1938 provided subsidies aimed at encouraging slum clearance and maintained rent control. Chamberlain's plans for the reform of local government were shelved because of the outbreak of war in 1939. Likewise, the proposal to raise the school-leaving age to 15, scheduled for implementation on 1 September 1939, did not go into effect.

  Relations with Ireland
When Chamberlain became Prime Minister relations between the United Kingdom and the Irish Free State had been strained since the 1932 accession of the new Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Éamon de Valera. The Anglo-Irish Trade War, sparked by the withholding of money that Ireland had agreed to pay the United Kingdom, had caused economic losses on both sides, and the two nations were anxious for a settlement. The de Valera government also sought to remove the remaining ties between Ireland and the UK, such as ending the King's status as Irish Head of State. Chamberlain, as Chancellor had taken a hard-line stance against concessions to the Irish, but having been persuaded that the strained ties were having effects on relations with other Dominions he sought a settlement with Ireland.

Talks had been suspended under Baldwin in 1936 but resumed in November 1937. De Valera sought not only to alter the constitutional status of Ireland, but to overturn other aspects of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, most notably the issue of partition, as well as obtaining full control of the three "Treaty Ports" which had remained in British control. Britain, on the other hand, wished to retain the Treaty Ports, at least in time of war and to obtain the money that Ireland had agreed to pay.

The Irish proved very tough negotiators, so much so that Chamberlain complained that one of de Valera's offers had "presented United Kingdom ministers with a three-leafed shamrock, none of the leaves of which had any advantages for the UK". With the talks facing deadlock, Chamberlain made the Irish a final offer in March 1938 which acceded to many Irish positions though he was confident that he had "only given up the small things", and the agreements were signed on 25 April 1938. The issue of partition was not resolved, but the Irish agreed to pay £10 million to the British. There was no provision in the treaties for British access to the Treaty Ports in time of war, but Chamberlain accepted de Valera's oral assurance that in the event of war the British would have access. The agreements were attacked by Conservative backbencher Winston Churchill in Parliament for surrendering the Treaty Ports which Churchill described as the "sentinel towers of the Western Approaches". When war came, de Valera denied Britain access to the Treaty Ports under Irish neutrality. Churchill railed against these treaties in The Gathering Storm, stating that he "never saw the House of Commons more completely misled" and that "members were made to feel very differently about it when our existence hung in the balance during the Battle of the Atlantic". Chamberlain, however, believed that the Treaty Ports were unusable if Ireland was hostile and deemed their loss worthwhile to assure friendly relations with Dublin.
European policy
Early days (May 1937 – March 1938)
Chamberlain sought to conciliate Germany and make the Nazi state a partner in a stable Europe. He believed Germany could be satisfied by the restoration of some of her colonies, and during the Rhineland crisis of March 1936 he had stated that "if we were in sight of an all-round settlement the British government ought to consider the question [of restoration of colonies]".

The new Prime Minister's attempts to secure such a settlement were frustrated because Germany was in no hurry to talk to Britain. Foreign Minister Konstantin von Neurath was supposed to visit Britain in July 1937 but cancelled his visit. Lord Halifax, the Lord President of the Council visited Germany privately in November and met with Hitler and other German officials. Both Chamberlain and British Ambassador to Germany Nevile Henderson pronounced the visit a success. Foreign Office officials complained that the Halifax visit made it appear Britain was too eager for talks, and Foreign Secretary Eden felt that he had been bypassed.

Chamberlain also bypassed Eden while the Foreign Secretary was on holiday by opening direct talks with Italy, an international pariah for its invasion and conquest of Ethiopia. At a Cabinet meeting on 8 September 1937, Chamberlain indicated that he saw "the lessening of the tension between this country and Italy as a very valuable contribution toward the pacification and appeasement of Europe" which would "weaken the Rome–Berlin axis". The Prime Minister also set up a private line of communication with the Italian "Duce" Benito Mussolini through the Italian Ambassador, Count Dino Grandi.

In February 1938 Hitler began to press the Austrian government to accept "Anschluss" or union between Germany and Austria. Chamberlain believed that it was essential to cement relations with Italy in the hope that an Anglo–Italian alliance would forestall Hitler from imposing his rule over Austria. Eden, however, believed Chamberlain was being too hasty in talking with Italy and holding out the prospect of "de jure" recognition of Italy's conquest of Ethiopia. Chamberlain concluded that Eden would have to accept his policy, or resign. The Cabinet heard both men out but unanimously decided for Chamberlain. Despite efforts by other Cabinet members to prevent it, Eden resigned from office. In later years, Eden tried to portray his resignation as a stand against appeasement (Churchill described him in The Second World War as "one strong young figure standing up against long, dismal, drawling tides of drift and surrender") but many ministers[90] and MPs believed there was no issue at stake worth resignation. Chamberlain appointed Lord Halifax as Foreign Secretary in Eden's place.


Chamberlain arrives in Munich, September 1938
  Road to Munich (March 1938 – September 1938)
In March 1938 Austria became a part of Germany in the "Anschluß". Though the beleaguered Austrians requested help from Britain none was forthcoming. Britain did send Berlin a strong note of protest. In addressing the Cabinet shortly after German forces crossed the border, Chamberlain placed blame on both Germany and Austria. Chamberlain noted,

It is perfectly evident now that force is the only argument Germany understands and that "collective security" cannot offer any prospect of preventing such events until it can show a visible force of overwhelming strength backed by the determination to use it. ... Heaven knows I don't want to get back to alliances but if Germany continues to behave as she has done lately she may drive us to it.

On 14 March, the day after the "Anschluß", Chamberlain addressed the House of Commons and strongly condemned the methods used by the Germans in the takeover of Austria. Chamberlain's address met with the approval of the House.
With Austria absorbed by Germany, attention turned to Hitler's obvious next target, the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia. With three million ethnic Germans, the Sudetenland represented the largest German population outside the "Reich".

Hitler began to call for the union of the region with Germany. Britain had no military obligations toward Czechoslovakia, but France and Czechoslovakia had a mutual assistance pact. After the fall of Austria, the Cabinet's Foreign Policy Committee considered seeking a "grand alliance" to thwart Germany, or alternatively, an assurance to France of assistance if the French went to war. Instead, the committee chose to advocate that Czechoslovakia be urged to make the best terms it could with Germany. The full Cabinet agreed with the committee's recommendation influenced by a report from the chiefs of staff stating that there was little that Britain could do to help the Czechs in the event of a German invasion. Chamberlain reported to an amenable House that he was unwilling to limit his government's discretion by giving commitments.

Britain and Italy signed an agreement in April 1938. In exchange for "de jure" recognition of Italy's Ethiopian conquest, Italy agreed to withdraw some Italian "volunteers" from the Nationalist (pro-Franco) side of the Spanish Civil War. The Nationalists by now strongly had the upper hand in this war and completed their victory the following year. Later that month the new French Prime Minister, Édouard Daladier, came to London for talks with Chamberlain, and agreed to follow the British position on Czechoslovakia.

In May, Czech border guards shot two Sudeten German farmers who were attempting to cross the border into Czechoslovakia without stopping for border controls. This incident caused unrest among the Sudeten Germans, and Germany was then said to be moving troops to the border. In response to the report, Prague moved troops to the German border. Halifax sent a note to Germany warning that if France intervened in the crisis on Czechoslovakia's behalf, Britain might support France. Tensions calmed, and Chamberlain and Halifax were applauded for their "masterly" handling of the crisis. Though not known at the time, it later became clear that Germany had had no plans for a May invasion of Czechoslovakia. Nonetheless, the Chamberlain government received strong and almost unanimous support from the British press.

Negotiations between the Czech government and the Sudeten Germans dragged on through mid-1938. They achieved little result with Sudeten leader Konrad Henlein under private instructions from Hitler not to reach an agreement. On 3 August, Walter Runciman (by now Lord Runciman) travelled to Prague as a mediator sent by the British government. Over the next two weeks, Runciman met separately with Henlein, the Czechoslovak President Edvard Beneš and other leaders, but made no progress. On 30 August Chamberlain met with his Cabinet and Ambassador Henderson and secured their backing—with only First Lord of the Admiralty Duff Cooper dissenting against Chamberlain's policy to pressure Czechoslovakia into making concessions on the ground that Britain was then in no position to back up any threat to go to war.

Chamberlain realised that Hitler would likely signal his intentions in his 12 September speech at the annual Nuremberg Rally, and so Chamberlain discussed with his advisers how to respond if war seemed likely. In consultation with his close adviser Sir Horace Wilson, Chamberlain set out "Plan Z". If war seemed inevitable, Chamberlain would fly to Germany to negotiate directly with Hitler.


British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, 1938
Chamberlain (centre, hat and umbrella in hands) walks with German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop (right) as the Prime Minister leaves for home after the Berchtesgaden meeting, 16 September 1938.
On the left is Alexander von Dornberg.
September 1938: Munich

Preliminary meetings

Lord Runciman continued his work attempting to pressure the Czechoslovak government into concessions. On 7 September there was an altercation involving Sudeten members of the Czechoslovak parliament in the North-Moravian city of Mährisch-Ostrau. The Germans made considerable propaganda of the incident though the Prague government attempted to conciliate them by dismissing Czech police who had been involved.

As the tempest grew Runciman concluded that there was no point in attempting further negotiations until after Hitler's speech. The mission would never resume.

The final days before Hitler's speech on the last day of the Rally were spent amidst tremendous tension as Britain, France, and Czechoslovakia all partially mobilised their troops. Thousands gathered outside 10 Downing Street on the night of Hitler's speech in Nuremberg.

At last the Fuhrer addressed his wildly enthusiastic followers:

The condition of the Sudeten Germans is indescribable. It is sought to annihilate them. As human beings they are oppressed and scandalously treated in an intolerable fashion ... The depriving of these people of their rights must come to an end. ... I have stated that the "Reich" would not tolerate any further oppression of these three and a half million Germans, and I would ask the statesmen of foreign countries to be convinced that this is no mere form of words.

The following morning, 13 September, Chamberlain and the Cabinet were informed by secret service sources that all German embassies had been told that Germany would invade Czechoslovakia on 25 September.

Convinced that the French would not fight (Daladier was privately proposing a three-Power summit to settle the Sudeten question), Chamberlain decided to implement "Plan Z" and sent a message to Hitler that he was willing to come to Germany to negotiate.

Hitler accepted and Chamberlain flew to Germany on the morning of 15 September; this was the first time, excepting a short jaunt at an industrial fair, that Chamberlain had ever flown. Chamberlain flew to Munich and then journeyed by rail to Hitler's retreat at Berchtesgaden.

  The face to face meeting lasted about three hours. Hitler demanded the annexation of the Sudetenland, and through questioning him, Chamberlain was able to obtain assurances that Hitler had no designs on the remainder of Czechoslovakia or on the areas in Eastern Europe which had German minorities. After the meeting Chamberlain returned to London believing that he had obtained a breathing space during which agreement could be reached and the peace preserved. Under the proposals made at Berchtesgaden the Sudetenland would be annexed by Germany if a plebiscite in the Sudetenland favoured it. Czechoslovakia would receive international guarantees of its independence which would replace existing treaty obligations—principally the French pledge to the Czechoslovaks. The French agreed to the requirements. Under considerable pressure the Czechoslovaks also agreed, causing the Czechoslovak government to fall.

Chamberlain flew back to Germany, meeting Hitler in Bad Godesberg on 22 September. Hitler brushed aside the proposals of the previous meeting, stating "that won't do any more". Hitler demanded immediate occupation of the Sudetenland and that Polish and Hungarian territorial claims on Czechoslovakia be addressed. Chamberlain objected strenuously telling Hitler that he had worked to bring the French and Czechoslovaks into line with Germany's demands, so much so that he had been accused of giving in to dictators and had been booed on his departure that morning. Hitler was unmoved.

That evening, Chamberlain told Lord Halifax that the "meeting with Herr Hitler had been most unsatisfactory". The following day, Hitler kept Chamberlain waiting until mid-afternoon when he sent a five-page letter, in German, outlining the demands he had spoken of orally the previous day. Chamberlain replied by offering to act as an intermediary with the Czechoslovaks, and suggested that Hitler put his demands in a memorandum which could be circulated to the French and Czechoslovaks.

The leaders met again late on the evening of 23 September—a meeting which stretched into the early morning hours. Hitler demanded that fleeing Czechs in the zones to be occupied take nothing with them. He extended his deadline for occupation of the Sudetenland to 1 October—the date he had long before secretly set for the invasion of Czechoslovakia. The meeting ended amicably with Chamberlain confiding to Hitler his hopes they would be able to work out other problems in Europe in the same spirit. Hitler hinted that the Sudetenland fulfilled his territorial ambitions in Europe. Chamberlain flew back to London, stating "It is up to the Czechs now."

Munich conference
Hitler's proposals met with resistance not only from the French and Czechoslovaks, but also from some members of Chamberlain's cabinet. With no agreement in sight, war seemed inevitable. The Prime Minister issued a press statement calling on Germany to abandon the threat of force in exchange for British help in obtaining the concessions it sought. On the evening of 27 September, Chamberlain addressed the nation by radio, and after thanking those who wrote to him, stated:

How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing. It seems still more impossible that a quarrel that has already been settled in principle should be the subject of war.

On 28 September, he called on Hitler to invite him to Germany again to seek a solution through a summit involving the British, French, Germans, and Italians. Hitler replied favourably and word of this response came to Chamberlain as he was winding up a speech in the House of Commons which sat in gloomy anticipation of war, Chamberlain informed the House of this in his speech. The response was a passionate demonstration with members cheering Chamberlain wildly. Even diplomats in the galleries applauded. Lord Dunglass later commented, "There were a lot of appeasers in Parliament that day."

On the morning of 29 September Chamberlain left Heston Aerodrome (to the east of today's Heathrow Airport) for his third and final visit to Germany. On arrival in Munich the British delegation was taken directly to the "Führerbau" where Daladier, Mussolini and Hitler soon arrived. The four leaders and their translators held an informal meeting with Hitler stating that he intended to invade Czechoslovakia on 1 October. Mussolini distributed a proposal similar to Hitler's Bad Godesberg terms. In fact, the proposal had been drafted by German officials and transmitted to Rome the previous day. The draft was debated by the four leaders and Chamberlain raised the question of compensation for the Czechoslovak government and citizens which Hitler refused to consider.


Chamberlain (left) and Hitler leave the Bad Godesberg meeting, 23 September 1938.
The leaders were joined by advisers after lunch and hours were spent on long discussions of each clause of the Italian draft agreement. Late that evening the British and French left for their hotels on the grounds that they had to seek advice from their respective capitals. Meanwhile, the Germans and Italians enjoyed the feast which Hitler had intended for all the participants. During this break, Chamberlain adviser Sir Horace Wilson met with the Czechoslovaks informing them of the draft agreement and enquiring which districts particularly were important to them. The Munich Conference resumed about 10 p.m. and was mostly in the hands of a small drafting committee. At 1:30 a.m. the Munich Agreement was ready for signing, though a signing ceremony was delayed when Hitler discovered that the ornate inkwell on his desk was empty.

Chamberlain and Daladier returned to their hotel and informed the Czechoslovaks of the agreement. The two Prime Ministers urged quick acceptance by the Czechoslovaks of the agreement since the evacuation by the Czechs was to begin the following day. At 12:30 pm the Czechoslovak government in Prague objected to the decision but agreed to its terms.


From left to right, Chamberlain, Daladier, Hitler, Mussolini and Italian Foreign Minister Count Ciano as they prepare to sign the Munich Agreement
Aftermath and reception
Prior to leaving the "Führerbau", Chamberlain requested a private conference with Hitler which the German leader agreed to, and the two met at Hitler's apartment in the city later that morning. Chamberlain urged restraint in the implementation of the agreement and requested that the Germans not bomb Prague if the Czechs resisted, to which Hitler seemed agreeable. Chamberlain took from his pocket a paper headed "Anglo–German Agreement", which contained three paragraphs including a statement that the two nations considered the Munich Agreement "symbolic of the desire of our two people never to go to war again". According to Chamberlain, Hitler interjected "Ja! Ja!" ("Yes! Yes!") as the Prime Minister read it. The two men signed the paper then and there. When, later that day, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop remonstrated with Hitler for signing it, the "Führer" replied, "Oh, don't take it so seriously. That piece of paper is of no further significance whatever." Chamberlain, on the other hand, when he returned to his hotel for lunch patted his breast pocket and said, "I've got it!" Word leaked as to the outcome of the meetings before Chamberlain's return causing delight among many in London, though causing gloom amongst Churchill and his adherents.

Chamberlain returned to London in triumph. Large crowds mobbed Heston where he was met by the Lord Chamberlain, the Earl of Clarendon, who gave him a letter from King George VI assuring him of the Empire's lasting gratitude and urging him to come straight to Buckingham Palace to report. The streets were so packed with cheering people that it took Chamberlain an hour and a half to journey the nine miles from Heston to the Palace. After reporting to the King, Chamberlain and his wife appeared on the Palace balcony with the King and his wife, Queen Elizabeth. He then went to Downing Street where both the street and the front hall of Number 10 were packed. As he headed upstairs to address the crowd from a first-floor window someone called to him, "Neville, go up to the window and say 'peace for our time'." Chamberlain turned around and responded, "No, I don't do that sort of thing." Nevertheless, Chamberlain recalled the words of his predecessor, Benjamin Disraeli and his return from the Congress of Berlin in his statement to the crowd:

My good friends, this is the second time there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Now I recommend you go home, and sleep quietly in your beds.


Neville Chamberlain holds the paper signed by both Hitler and himself on his return from Munich to Heston Aerodrome.
King George issued a statement to his people, "After the magnificent efforts of the Prime Minister in the cause of peace it is my fervent hope that a new era of friendship and prosperity may be dawning among the peoples of the world." When the King met with Duff Cooper, who resigned as First Lord of the Admiralty over the Munich Agreement, he told Cooper that he respected people who had the courage of their convictions, but could not agree with him. He wrote to his mother, Queen Mary, that "the Prime Minister was delighted with the results of his mission, as are we all". The dowager queen responded to her son with anger against those who spoke against the Prime Minister: "He brought home peace, why can't they be grateful?" Most newspapers supported Chamberlain uncritically, and he received thousands of gifts, from a silver dinner service to many of his trademark umbrellas.

The Commons discussed the Munich Agreement on 3 October. Though Cooper opened by setting forth the reasons for his resignation and Churchill spoke harshly against the pact, no Conservative voted against the government. Only between 20 and 30 abstained, including Churchill, Eden, Cooper and Harold Macmillan.

Path to war (October 1938 – August 1939)
In the aftermath of Munich, Chamberlain continued to pursue a course of cautious rearmament. He told the Cabinet in early October, "[I]t would be madness for the country to stop rearming until we were convinced that other countries would act in the same way. For the time being, therefore, we should relax no particle of effort until our deficiencies had been made good."

However, later in October, he resisted calls to put industry on a war footing, convinced that such an action would show Hitler that the Prime Minister had decided to abandon Munich. Chamberlain hoped that the understanding he had signed with Hitler at Munich would lead toward a general settlement of European disputes. However, Hitler expressed no public interest in following up on the accord.

Having considered a general election immediately following Munich Chamberlain instead reshuffled his Cabinet. By the end of the year, however, public concerns caused Chamberlain to conclude that "to get rid of this uneasy and disgruntled House of Commons by a General Election" would be "suicidal".

Despite Hitler's relative quietness as the "Reich" absorbed the Sudetenland, foreign policy concerns continued to preoccupy Chamberlain. He made trips to Paris and Rome hoping to persuade the French to hasten their rearmament and to persuade Mussolini to be a positive influence on Hitler. However, several of his Cabinet members, led by the Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax, began to draw away from the appeasement policy.
Halifax was now convinced that Munich, though "better than a European war", had been "a horrid business and humiliating".
Public revulsion over the pogrom of Kristallnacht on 9 November made any attempt at a "rapprochement" with Hitler unacceptable, though Chamberlain did not abandon his hopes.

  Still hoping for reconciliation with Germany, Chamberlain made a major speech at Birmingham on 28 January in which he expressed his desire for international peace, and had an advance copy sent to Hitler at Berchtesgaden. Hitler seemed to respond; in his "Reichstag" speech on 30 January he stated that he wanted a "long peace". Chamberlain was confident that improvements in British defence since Munich would bring the dictator to the bargaining table. This belief was reinforced by a German official's conciliatory speech welcoming Ambassador Henderson back to Berlin after an absence for medical treatment in Britain. Chamberlain responded with a speech in Blackburn on 22 February hoping that the nations would resolve their differences through trade, and was gratified when his comments were printed in German newspapers. With matters appearing to improve Chamberlain's rule over the House of Commons was firm and he was convinced the government would "romp home" in a late-1939 election.

On 15 March, Germany invaded the Czech provinces of Bohemia and Moravia, including Prague. Though Chamberlain's initial parliamentary response was, according to biographer Nick Smart, "feeble", within 48 hours he had spoken more forcefully against the German aggression. In 17 March speech given at Birmingham, Chamberlain warned that "no greater mistake could be made than to suppose that because it believes war to be a senseless and cruel thing the nation has so lost its fibre that it will not take part to the utmost of its power in resisting such a challenge if it were ever made". The Prime Minister questioned whether the invasion of Czechoslovakia was "the end of an old adventure, or the beginning of a new" and whether it was "a step in the direction of an attempt to dominate the world by force". The Colonial Secretary, Malcolm MacDonald stated, "whereas the Prime Minister was once a strong advocate of peace, he has now definitely swung around to the war point of view". This speech was met with widespread approval in Britain and recruitment for the armed services increased considerably.
Chamberlain sought to build an interlocking series of defence pacts among the remaining European countries as a means of deterring Hitler from war. He sought an agreement among Britain, France, the USSR and Poland whereby the first three would go to the assistance of Poland if her independence were threatened, but Polish mistrust of the Soviet Union caused those negotiations to fail. Instead, on 31 March, Chamberlain informed an approving House of Commons of British and French guarantees that they would lend Poland all possible aid in the event of any action which threatened Polish independence. In the ensuing debate Eden stated that the nation was now united behind the government. Even Churchill and Lloyd George praised Chamberlain's government for issuing the guarantee to Poland.

The Prime Minister took other steps to deter Hitler from aggression. He doubled the size of the Territorial Army, created a Ministry of Supply to expedite the provision of equipment to the armed forces, and instituted peacetime conscription. The Italian invasion of Albania on 7 April led to guarantees being given to Greece and Romania.

Chamberlain was reluctant to seek military alliance with the Soviet Union, distrusting Joseph Stalin ideologically and feeling that there was little to gain given the massive purges that recently had taken place in the Red Army. However, much of his Cabinet favoured such an alliance, and when Poland withdrew her objection to Anglo–Soviet alliance Chamberlain had little choice but to proceed. The talks with Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, to which Britain sent only a low-level delegation, dragged on over several months and eventually foundered on 14 August when Poland and Romania refused to allow Soviet troops to be stationed on their territories. A week after the failure of these talks the Soviet Union and Germany signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact which committed the countries to non-aggression toward each other. A secret agreement divided up Poland in the event of war. Chamberlain had disregarded rumours of a Soviet-German "rapprochement", and was dismissive of the publicly announced pact stating that it in no way affected British obligations toward Poland. Nevertheless, on 23 August Chamberlain had Henderson deliver a letter to Hitler telling him that Britain was fully prepared to live up to its obligations to Poland. Hitler instructed his generals to prepare for an invasion of Poland, telling them, "Our enemies are small worms. I saw them at Munich."

War leader (1939–40)
Declaration of war

Germany invaded Poland in the early morning hours of 1 September 1939. The British Cabinet met late that morning and issued a warning to Germany that unless it withdrew from Polish territory Britain would carry out its obligations to Poland. When the House of Commons met at 6:00 p.m., Chamberlain and Labour deputy leader Arthur Greenwood (deputising for the sick Clement Attlee) entered the chamber to loud cheers. Chamberlain spoke emotionally, laying the blame for the conflict on Hitler.

No formal declaration of war was immediately made. French Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet stated that France could do nothing until its parliament met on the evening of 2 September. In fact, Bonnet was trying to rally support for a Munich-style summit proposed by the Italians to be held on 5 September. The British Cabinet, however, demanded that Hitler be given an ultimatum at once, and if troops were not withdrawn by the end of 2 September, that war be declared forthwith.
Chamberlain and Halifax were convinced by Bonnet's pleas from Paris that France needed more time for mobilisation and evacuation, and postponed the expiration of the ultimatum (which had in fact not yet been served). The House of Commons received Chamberlain's lengthy statement, which made no mention of an ultimatum, badly. Greenwood rose to "speak for the working classes". Conservative backbencher Leo Amery urged Greenwood to "Speak for England, Arthur", implying that the Prime Minister was not so speaking. Chamberlain replied that telephone difficulties were making it hard to communicate with Paris and tried to dispel fears that the French were weakening.
He had little success; too many members knew of Bonnet's efforts. National Labour MP and diarist Harold Nicolson later wrote, "In those few minutes he flung away his reputation."

  The seeming delay gave rise to fears Chamberlain would again seek a settlement with Hitler. Chamberlain's last peacetime Cabinet met at 11:30 that night, with a thunderstorm raging outside, and determined that the ultimatum would be presented in Berlin at nine o'clock the following morning—to expire two hours later prior to the House of Commons convening at noon. At 11:15 a.m., Chamberlain addressed the nation by radio stating that the United Kingdom was at war with Germany:

This morning, the British ambassador in Berlin, handed the German government, the final note, stating that unless we heard from them, by 11 o'clock, that they were prepared at once, to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now, that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently, this country is now at war with Germany. ... We have a clear conscience; we have done all that any country could do to establish peace. The situation in which no word given by Germany's ruler could be trusted, and no people or country could feel itself safe had become intolerable ... Now may God bless you all. May He defend the right. It is the evil things we shall be fighting against—brute force, bad faith, injustice, oppression, and persecution—and against them I am certain that the right will prevail.

That afternoon Chamberlain addressed the House of Commons' first Sunday session in over 120 years. He spoke to a quiet House in a statement which even opponents termed "restrained and therefore effective":

Everything that I have worked for, everything that I have hoped for, everything that I have believed in during my public life has crashed into ruins. There is only one thing left for me to do: that is devote what strength and power I have to forwarding the victory of the cause for which we have sacrificed so much.

"Phoney War"
Chamberlain instituted a War Cabinet and invited the Labour and Liberal parties to join his government which they declined. He restored Churchill to the Cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty with a seat in the War Cabinet. Chamberlain also gave Eden a government post (Dominions Secretary) but not a seat in the small War Cabinet. The new First Lord proved to be a difficult Cabinet colleague, deluging the Prime Minister with a sea of lengthy memos. Chamberlain castigated Churchill for sending so many memos as unnecessary when the two met in War Cabinet every day. Chamberlain suspected, correctly as it proved after the war, that "these letters are for the purpose of quotation in the Book that he will write hereafter". Chamberlain was also able to deter some of Churchill's more extreme plans, such as Operation Catherine, which would have sent several heavily armoured ships into the Baltic Sea with little support and no air cover as a means of stopping shipments of iron ore to Germany. With the naval war the only significant front involving the British in the early months of the war, the First Lord's obvious desire to wage a ruthless, victorious war established him as a leader-in-waiting in the public consciousness and among parliamentary colleagues.

With little land action in the west, the initial months of the war were dubbed the "Bore War", later renamed the "Phoney War" by journalists. Chamberlain, in common with most Allied officials and generals, felt the war could be won relatively quickly by keeping economic pressure on Germany through a blockade while continuing rearmament. Chamberlain was reluctant to go too far in altering the British economy. The government submitted an emergency war budget about which Chamberlain stated, "the only thing that matters is to win the war, though we may go bankrupt in the process". However, actual government expenditures rose by little more than the rate of inflation between September 1939 and March 1940. Despite these difficulties, Chamberlain still enjoyed approval ratings as high as 68% and almost 60% in April 1940.

In early 1940 the Allies approved a naval campaign that was devised to seize the northern part of Norway, a neutral country, including the key port of Narvik, and possibly also to seize the iron mines at Gällivare in northern Sweden from which Germany obtained much of its iron ore. Since the Baltic freezes in winters the iron ore was sent by ship south from Narvik during warmer times of the year. The Allies planned to begin by mining Norwegian waters, thus provoking a German reaction in Norway, and then the Allies planned to occupy much of the country. Unforeseen by the Allies, however, Germany had itself planned to occupy Norway, and on 9 April German troops occupied Denmark and began an invasion of Norway. German troops quickly overran much of the country. The Allies sent troops to Norway who met with little success, and on 26 April the War Cabinet ordered a withdrawal. The Prime Minister's opponents decided to turn the adjournment debate for the Whitsun recess into a challenge to Chamberlain who soon heard about the plan. After initial anger, Chamberlain determined to fight.

What became known as the "Norway debate" opened on 7 May, and lasted for two days. The initial speeches, including Chamberlain's, were nondescript, but Admiral of the Fleet Sir Roger Keyes, member for Portsmouth North, in full uniform, delivered a withering attack on the conduct of the Norway campaign, though he excluded Churchill from criticism. Leo Amery then delivered a speech which he concluded by echoing Oliver Cromwell's words on dissolving the Long Parliament: "You have sat here too long for any good you are doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!" When Labour announced that they would call for a division of the House of Commons, Chamberlain called upon his "friends—and I still have some friends in this House—to support the Government tonight". Though the use of the word "friends" was a conventional term to refer to party colleagues, and, according to biographer Robert Self, many MPs took it that way, it was an "error of judgment" for Chamberlain to refer to party loyalty "when the gravity of the war situation required national unity". Lloyd George joined the attackers and Churchill concluded the debate with a vigorous speech in support of the government.

  When the division took place, the government, which had a normal majority of over 200, prevailed by only 81, with 38 MPs in receipt of the government whip voting against it, with between 20 and 25 abstaining.

Chamberlain spent much of 9 May in meetings with his Cabinet colleagues. Many Conservative MPs, even those who had voted against the government, indicated on 9 May and in the days following that they did not wish Chamberlain to depart but rather would seek to reconstruct his government. However, Chamberlain decided that he would resign unless the Labour Party was willing to join his government, and so he met with Attlee later that day. Attlee was unwilling but did agree to consult his National Executive then meeting in Bournemouth. Chamberlain favoured Halifax as the next Prime Minister, but Halifax proved reluctant to press his own claims, and Churchill emerged as the choice.

The following day Germany invaded the Low Countries and Chamberlain considered remaining in office. However, Attlee confirmed that Labour would not serve under Chamberlain though it was willing to serve under someone else. Chamberlain went to Buckingham Palace to resign and advise the King to send for Churchill. Churchill later expressed gratitude to Chamberlain for not advising the King to send for Halifax who would have commanded the support of most government MPs. In a resignation broadcast that evening, Chamberlain told the nation,

For the hour has now come when we are to be put to the test, as the innocent people of Holland, Belgium, and France are being tested already. And you and I must rally behind our new leader, and with our united strength, and with unshakable courage fight, and work until this wild beast, which has sprung out of his lair upon us, has been finally disarmed and overthrown.

Queen Elizabeth told Chamberlain that her daughter, Princess Elizabeth wept as she heard the broadcast. Churchill wrote to express his gratitude for Chamberlain's willingness to stand by him in the nation's hour of need, and Lord Baldwin, the only living former Prime Minister besides Chamberlain and Lloyd George, wrote, "You have passed through fire since we were talking together only a fortnight ago, and you have come out pure gold."


Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain
Lord President of the Council and death
In a departure from usual practice, Chamberlain did not issue any resignation Honours list. With Chamberlain remaining leader of the Conservative Party, and with many MPs still supporting him and distrusting the new Prime Minister, Churchill refrained from any purge of Chamberlain loyalists. Churchill wished Chamberlain to return to the Exchequer, which he declined, convinced that accepting would lead to difficulties with the Labour Party. Instead, he accepted the post of Lord President of the Council with a seat in the shrunken five-member War Cabinet. When Chamberlain entered the House of Commons on 13 May 1940, for the first time since his resignation, "MPs lost their heads, they shouted, they cheered, they waved their order papers, and his reception was a regular ovation." However, Churchill was received coolly by the House. Some of Churchill's great speeches to the House, such as "We shall fight on the beaches", met with only half-hearted enthusiasm there.

His fall from power left Chamberlain deeply depressed, writing, "Few men can have known such a reversal of fortune in so short a time." He especially regretted the loss of Chequers as "a place where I have been so happy", though after a farewell visit there by the Chamberlains on 19 June, he wrote "I am content now that I have done that, and shall put Chequers out of my mind." As Lord President he assumed vast responsibilities over domestic issues and chaired the War Cabinet during Churchill's many absences. Attlee later remembered him as "free from any of the rancour he might have felt against us. He worked very hard and well: a good chairman, a good committeeman, always very businesslike". As chairman of the Lord President's Committee, he exerted great influence over the wartime economy. When Axis feelers for peace reached the War Cabinet on 26 May 1940, with the Low Countries conquered and France tottering, Halifax urged following up and seeing if the actual offer was worthwhile. The battle over the course of action within the War Cabinet lasted three days, and Chamberlain's statement on the final day that there was unlikely to be an acceptable offer and that the feelers should not be pursued at that time helped persuade the War Cabinet to reject negotiations.

Twice in May 1940 Churchill broached the subject of bringing Lloyd George into the government. Each time Chamberlain indicated that due to their longtime antipathy he would immediately retire if Lloyd George were appointed a minister. Churchill did not appoint Lloyd George but brought up the subject with Chamberlain again early in June. This time, Chamberlain agreed to Lloyd George's appointment provided Lloyd George gave a personal assurance to put aside the feud. However, Lloyd George declined to serve in Churchill's government.

  Chamberlain worked to bring his Conservative Party in line behind Churchill, working with the Chief Whip, David Margesson, to overcome members' suspicions and dislikes of the Prime Minister. On 4 July, after the British attack on the French fleet, Churchill entered the Chamber to a great cheer from Conservative MPs orchestrated by the two, and the Prime Minister was almost overcome with emotion at the first cheer he had received from his own party's benches since May. Churchill returned the loyalty refusing to consider Labour and Liberal attempts to expel Chamberlain from the government. When criticisms of Chamberlain appeared in the press, and when the former Prime Minister learned that Labour intended to use an upcoming secret session of Parliament as a platform to attack him, Chamberlain told Churchill that he could only defend himself by attacking Labour. The Prime Minister intervened with the Labour Party and the press, and the criticism ceased, according to Chamberlain, "like turning off a tap".

In July 1940, a polemic entitled Guilty Men was released by "Cato"—a pseudonym for three journalists (including future Labour leader Michael Foot). It attacked the record of the National Government, alleging that it had failed to prepare adequately for war. It called for the removal of Chamberlain and other ministers who had allegedly contributed to the British disasters of the early part of the war. The short book sold more than 200,000 copies, many of which were passed from hand to hand, and which went into twenty-seven editions in the first few months despite not being carried by several major bookshops. According to historian David Dutton, "its impact upon Chamberlain's reputation, both among the general public and within the academic world, was profound indeed".

Chamberlain had long enjoyed excellent health, except for occasional attacks of gout, but by July 1940, he was in almost constant pain. He sought treatment, and later that month entered hospital for surgery. Surgeons discovered that he was suffering from terminal bowel cancer, but they concealed it from him, instead telling him that he would not require further surgery. Chamberlain resumed work in mid-August. He returned to his office on 9 September. However, renewed pain, compounded by the night-time bombing of London which forced him to go to an air raid shelter and denied him rest, sapped his energy, and he left London for the last time on 19 September returning to Highfield Park in Heckfield. He offered his resignation to Churchill on 22 September, which the Prime Minister initially was reluctant to accept. However, as both men realised that Chamberlain would never return to work, Churchill finally allowed him to resign. The Prime Minister asked if Chamberlain would accept the highest order of British chivalry, the Order of the Garter, of which his brother had been a member. Chamberlain refused stating that he would "prefer to die plain 'Mr. Chamberlain' like my father before me, unadorned by any title".

In the short time remaining to him, Chamberlain was angered by the "short, cold & for the most part depreciatory" press comments on his retirement, according to him written "without the slightest sign of sympathy for the man or even any comprehension that there may be a human tragedy in the background". However, the King and Queen drove down from Windsor to visit the dying man on 14 October. He received hundreds of sympathetic letters from friends and supporters. He wrote to John Simon, who had served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in Chamberlain's government:

[I]t was the hope of doing something to improve the conditions of life for the poorer people that brought me at past middle life into politics, and it is some satisfaction to me that I was able to carry out some part of my ambition even though its permanency may be challenged by the destruction of war. For the rest I regret nothing that I have done & I can see nothing undone that I ought to have done. I am therefore content to accept the fate that has so suddenly overtaken me.

Chamberlain died of bowel cancer on 9 November 1940 at the age of 71. His funeral service took place at Westminster Abbey (due to wartime security concerns, the date and time were not widely publicised), and his ashes were interred there next to those of Andrew Bonar Law. Churchill eulogised Chamberlain in the House of Commons three days after his death:

Whatever else history may or may not say about these terrible, tremendous years, we can be sure that Neville Chamberlain acted with perfect sincerity according to his lights and strove to the utmost of his capacity and authority, which were powerful, to save the world from the awful, devastating struggle in which we are now engaged. This alone will stand him in good stead as far as what is called the verdict of history is concerned.

Though some Chamberlain supporters found Churchill's oratory to be faint praise of the late Prime Minister, Churchill added less publicly, "Whatever shall I do without poor Neville? I was relying on him to look after the Home Front for me." Amongst the others who paid tribute to Chamberlain in the Commons and in the House of Lords on 12 November were Lord Halifax, Attlee, and the Liberal Party leader and Air Minister, Sir Archibald Sinclair. Lloyd George, the only former Prime Minister remaining in the Commons, had been expected to speak, but absented himself from the proceedings. Ever close to his family, the executors of Chamberlain's will were his cousins, Wilfred Byng Kenrick and Sir Wilfrid Martineau; both of whom, like Chamberlain, were Lord Mayor of Birmingham.


Neville Chamberlain and his wife Annie2
  Legacy and reputation
A few days before his death, Neville Chamberlain wrote,

So far as my personal reputation is concerned, I am not in the least disturbed about it. The letters which I am still receiving in such vast quantities so unanimously dwell on the same point, namely without Munich the war would have been lost and the Empire destroyed in 1938 ... I do not feel the opposite view ... has a chance of survival. Even if nothing further were to be published giving the true inside story of the past two years I should not fear the historian's verdict.

Guilty Men was not the only Second World War tract that damaged Chamberlain's reputation. We Were Not All Wrong, published in 1941, took a similar tack to Guilty Men, arguing that Liberal and Labour MPs, and a small number of Conservatives, had fought against Chamberlain's appeasement policies. The author, Liberal MP Geoffrey Mander, had voted against conscription in 1939.

Another polemic against Conservative policies was Why Not Trust the Tories (1944, written by "Gracchus", who later proved to be future Labour minister Aneurin Bevan), which castigated the Conservatives for the foreign policy decisions of Baldwin and Chamberlain.

Though a few Conservatives offered their own versions of events, most notably MP Quintin Hogg in his 1945 The Left was Never Right, by the end of the war, there was a very strong public belief that Chamberlain was culpable for serious diplomatic and military misjudgments that had nearly caused Britain's defeat.

Chamberlain's reputation was devastated by these attacks from the left. In 1948, with the publication of The Gathering Storm, the first volume of Churchill's six-volume set, The Second World War, Chamberlain sustained an even more serious assault from the right. While Churchill stated privately, "this is not history, this is my case", his series was still hugely influential. Churchill depicted Chamberlain as well-meaning but weak, blind to the threat posed by Hitler, and oblivious to the fact that (according to Churchill) Hitler could have been removed from power by a grand coalition of European states. Churchill suggested that the year's delay between Munich and war worsened Britain's position, and criticised Chamberlain for both peacetime and wartime decisions. In the years following the publication of Churchill's books, few historians questioned his judgment.

Anne Chamberlain, the former premier's widow, suggested that Churchill's work was filled with matters that "are not real misstatements that could easily be corrected, but wholesale omissions and assumptions that certain things are now recognised as facts which actually have no such position".

Many of Chamberlain's family letters and his extensive personal papers were bequeathed by his family in 1974 to the Birmingham University Archives. During the war, the Chamberlain family had commissioned historian Keith Feiling to produce an official biography, and gave him access to Chamberlain's private diaries and papers. While Feiling had the right of access to official papers as the official biographer of a recently deceased person, he may not have been aware of the provision, and the Cabinet Secretary denied his requests for access.

Though Feiling produced what historian David Dutton described in 2001 as "the most impressive and persuasive single-volume biography" of Chamberlain (completed during the war and published in 1946), he could not repair the damage already done to Chamberlain's reputation.

Conservative MP Iain Macleod's 1961 biography of Chamberlain was the first major biography of a revisionist school of thought on Chamberlain. The same year, A. J. P. Taylor, in his The Origins of the Second World War, found that Chamberlain had adequately rearmed Britain for defence (though a rearmament designed to defeat Germany would have taken massive additional resources) and described Munich as "a triumph for all that was best and most enlightened in British life ... [and] for those who had courageously denounced the harshness and short-sightedness of Versailles".

The adoption of the "thirty-year rule" in 1967 made available many of the papers of the Chamberlain government over the subsequent three years, helping to explain why Chamberlain acted as he did. The resultant works greatly fuelled the revisionist school, although they also included books that strongly criticised Chamberlain, such as Keith Middlemas's 1972 Diplomacy of Illusion (which portrayed Chamberlain as a seasoned politician with strategic blindness when it came to Germany).

  Released papers indicated that, contrary to claims made in Guilty Men, Chamberlain had neither ignored the advice of the Foreign Office nor had he disregarded and run roughshod over his Cabinet.

Other released papers showed that Chamberlain had considered seeking a grand coalition amongst European governments like that later advocated by Churchill, but had rejected it on the ground that the division of Europe into two camps would make war more, not less likely. They also showed that Chamberlain had been advised that the Dominions, pursuing independent foreign policies under the Statute of Westminster, had indicated that Chamberlain could not depend on their help in the event of a Continental war. The Chiefs of Staff report, which indicated that Britain could not forcibly prevent Germany from conquering Czechoslovakia, was first publicly known at this time.

In reaction against the revisionist school of thought regarding Chamberlain a post-revisionist school emerged beginning in the 1990s, using the released papers to justify the initial conclusions of Guilty Men. Oxford historian R. A. C. Parker argued that Chamberlain could have forged a close alliance with France after the Anschluß, in early 1938, and begun a policy of containment of Germany under the auspices of the League of Nations. While many revisionist writers had suggested that Chamberlain had had few or no choices in his actions, Parker argued that Chamberlain and his colleagues had chosen appeasement over other viable policies. In his two volumes, Chamberlain and Appeasement (1993) and Churchill and Appeasement (2000), Parker stated that Chamberlain, due to his "powerful, obstinate personality" and his skill in debate, caused Britain to embrace appeasement instead of effective deterrence.
Parker also suggested that had Churchill held high office in the second half of the 1930s Churchill would have built a series of alliances which would have deterred Hitler, and perhaps would have caused Hitler's domestic opponents to procure his removal.
Dutton observes that Chamberlain's reputation, for good or ill, will probably always be closely tied to evaluation of his policy toward Germany:

Whatever else may be said of Chamberlain's public life his reputation will in the last resort depend upon assessments of this moment [Munich] and this policy [appeasement]. This was the case when he left office in 1940 and it remains so sixty years later. To expect otherwise is rather like hoping that Pontius Pilate will one day be judged as a successful provincial administrator of the Roman Empire.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gandhi Mahatma

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, byname Mahatma Gandhi (born October 2, 1869, Porbandar, India—died January 30, 1948, Delhi), Indian lawyer, politician, social activist, and writer who became the leader of the nationalist movement against the British rule of India. As such, he came to be considered the father of his country. Gandhi is internationally esteemed for his doctrine of nonviolent protest (satyagraha) to achieve political and social progress.

In the eyes of millions of his fellow Indians, Gandhi was the Mahatma (“Great Soul”). The unthinking adoration of the huge crowds that gathered to see him all along the route of his tours made them a severe ordeal; he could hardly work during the day or rest at night. “The woes of the Mahatmas,” he wrote, “are known only to the Mahatmas.” His fame spread worldwide during his lifetime and only increased after his death. The name Mahatma Gandhi is now one of the most universally recognized on earth.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Gandhi was the youngest child of his father’s fourth wife. His father—Karamchand Gandhi, who was the dewan (chief minister) of Porbandar, the capital of a small principality in western India (in what is now Gujarat state) under British suzerainty—did not have much in the way of a formal education. He was, however, an able administrator who knew how to steer his way between the capricious princes, their long-suffering subjects, and the headstrong British political officers in power.

Gandhi’s mother, Putlibai, was completely absorbed in religion, did not care much for finery or jewelry, divided her time between her home and the temple, fasted frequently, and wore herself out in days and nights of nursing whenever there was sickness in the family. Mohandas grew up in a home steeped in Vaishnavism—worship of the Hindu god Vishnu—with a strong tinge of Jainism, a morally rigorous Indian religion whose chief tenets are nonviolence and the belief that everything in the universe is eternal. Thus, he took for granted ahimsa (noninjury to all living beings), vegetarianism, fasting for self-purification, and mutual tolerance between adherents of various creeds and sects.
The educational facilities at Porbandar were rudimentary; in the primary school that Mohandas attended, the children wrote the alphabet in the dust with their fingers. Luckily for him, his father became dewan of Rajkot, another princely state.

Though Mohandas occasionally won prizes and scholarships at the local schools, his record was on the whole mediocre. One of the terminal reports rated him as “good at English, fair in Arithmetic and weak in Geography; conduct very good, bad handwriting.” He was married at the age of 13 and thus lost a year at school. A diffident child, he shone neither in the classroom nor on the playing field. He loved to go out on long solitary walks when he was not nursing his by then ailing father (who died soon thereafter) or helping his mother with her household chores.

He had learned, in his words, “to carry out the orders of the elders, not to scan them.” With such extreme passivity, it is not surprising that he should have gone through a phase of adolescent rebellion, marked by secret atheism, petty thefts, furtive smoking, and—most shocking of all for a boy born in a Vaishnava family—meat eating. His adolescence was probably no stormier than that of most children of his age and class. What was extraordinary was the way his youthful transgressions ended.

“Never again” was his promise to himself after each escapade. And he kept his promise. Beneath an unprepossessing exterior, he concealed a burning passion for self-improvement that led him to take even the heroes of Hindu mythology, such as Prahlada and Harishcandra—legendary embodiments of truthfulness and sacrifice—as living models.

In 1887 Mohandas scraped through the matriculation examination of the University of Bombay (now University of Mumbai) and joined Samaldas College in Bhavnagar (Bhaunagar). As he had to suddenly switch from his native language—Gujarati—to English, he found it rather difficult to follow the lectures.

Meanwhile, his family was debating his future. Left to himself, he would have liked to have been a doctor. But, besides the Vaishnava prejudice against vivisection, it was clear that, if he was to keep up the family tradition of holding high office in one of the states in Gujarat, he would have to qualify as a barrister. That meant a visit to England, and Mohandas, who was not too happy at Samaldas College, jumped at the proposal. His youthful imagination conceived England as “a land of philosophers and poets, the very centre of civilization.” But there were several hurdles to be crossed before the visit to England could be realized. His father had left the family little property; moreover, his mother was reluctant to expose her youngest child to unknown temptations and dangers in a distant land. But Mohandas was determined to visit England. One of his brothers raised the necessary money, and his mother’s doubts were allayed when he took a vow that, while away from home, he would not touch wine, women, or meat. Mohandas disregarded the last obstacle—the decree of the leaders of the Modh Bania subcaste (Vaishya caste), to which the Gandhis belonged, who forbade his trip to England as a violation of the Hindu religion—and sailed in September 1888. Ten days after his arrival, he joined the Inner Temple, one of the four London law colleges (The Temple).

Sojourn in England and return to India
Gandhi took his studies seriously and tried to brush up on his English and Latin by taking the University of London matriculation examination. But, during the three years he spent in England, his main preoccupation was with personal and moral issues rather than with academic ambitions. The transition from the half-rural atmosphere of Rajkot to the cosmopolitan life of London was not easy for him. As he struggled painfully to adapt himself to Western food, dress, and etiquette, he felt awkward.

His vegetarianism became a continual source of embarrassment to him; his friends warned him that it would wreck his studies as well as his health. Fortunately for him he came across a vegetarian restaurant as well as a book providing a reasoned defense of vegetarianism, which henceforth became a matter of conviction for him, not merely a legacy of his Vaishnava background. The missionary zeal he developed for vegetarianism helped to draw the pitifully shy youth out of his shell and gave him a new poise. He became a member of the executive committee of the London Vegetarian Society, attending its conferences and contributing articles to its journal.

In the boardinghouses and vegetarian restaurants of England, Gandhi met not only food faddists but some earnest men and women to whom he owed his introduction to the Bible and, more important, the Bhagavadgita, which he read for the first time in its English translation by Sir Edwin Arnold.

  The Bhagavadgita (commonly known as the Gita) is part of the great epic the Mahabharata and, in the form of a philosophical poem, is the most-popular expression of Hinduism.
The English vegetarians were a motley crowd. They included socialists and humanitarians such as Edward Carpenter, “the British Thoreau”; Fabians such as George Bernard Shaw; and Theosophists such as Annie Besant. Most of them were idealists; quite a few were rebels who rejected the prevailing values of the late-Victorian establishment, denounced the evils of the capitalist and industrial society, preached the cult of the simple life, and stressed the superiority of moral over material values and of cooperation over conflict. Those ideas were to contribute substantially to the shaping of Gandhi’s personality and, eventually, to his politics.

Painful surprises were in store for Gandhi when he returned to India in July 1891. His mother had died in his absence, and he discovered to his dismay that the barrister’s degree was not a guarantee of a lucrative career. The legal profession was already beginning to be overcrowded, and Gandhi was much too diffident to elbow his way into it. In the very first brief he argued in a court in Bombay (now Mumbai), he cut a sorry figure. Turned down even for the part-time job of a teacher in a Bombay high school, he returned to Rajkot to make a modest living by drafting petitions for litigants. Even that employment was closed to him when he incurred the displeasure of a local British officer. It was, therefore, with some relief that in 1893 he accepted the none-too-attractive offer of a year’s contract from an Indian firm in Natal, South Africa.

Years in South Africa
Africa was to present to Gandhi challenges and opportunities that he could hardly have conceived. In the end he would spend more than two decades there, returning to India only briefly in 1896–97. The youngest two of his four children were born there.

Gandhi photographed in South Africa
  Emergence as a political and social activist
Gandhi was quickly exposed to the racial discrimination practiced in South Africa. In a Durban court he was asked by the European magistrate to take off his turban; he refused and left the courtroom.

A few days later, while traveling to Pretoria, he was unceremoniously thrown out of a first-class railway compartment and left shivering and brooding at the rail station in Pietermaritzburg. In the further course of that journey, he was beaten up by the white driver of a stagecoach because he would not travel on the footboard to make room for a European passenger, and finally he was barred from hotels reserved “for Europeans only.” Those humiliations were the daily lot of Indian traders and labourers in Natal, who had learned to pocket them with the same resignation with which they pocketed their meagre earnings. What was new was not Gandhi’s experience but his reaction.

He had so far not been conspicuous for self-assertion or aggressiveness. But something happened to him as he smarted under the insults heaped upon him. In retrospect the journey from Durban to Pretoria struck him as one of the most-creative experiences of his life; it was his moment of truth.

Henceforth he would not accept injustice as part of the natural or unnatural order in South Africa; he would defend his dignity as an Indian and as a man.
While in Pretoria, Gandhi studied the conditions in which his fellow South Asians in South Africa lived and tried to educate them on their rights and duties, but he had no intention of staying on in South Africa. Indeed, in June 1894, as his year’s contract drew to a close, he was back in Durban, ready to sail for India. At a farewell party given in his honour, he happened to glance through the Natal Mercury and learned that the Natal Legislative Assembly was considering a bill to deprive Indians of the right to vote. “This is the first nail in our coffin,” Gandhi told his hosts. They professed their inability to oppose the bill, and indeed their ignorance of the politics of the colony, and begged him to take up the fight on their behalf.

Until the age of 18, Gandhi had hardly ever read a newspaper. Neither as a student in England nor as a budding barrister in India had he evinced much interest in politics. Indeed, he was overcome by a terrifying stage fright whenever he stood up to read a speech at a social gathering or to defend a client in court. Nevertheless, in July 1894, when he was barely 25, he blossomed almost overnight into a proficient political campaigner. He drafted petitions to the Natal legislature and the British government and had them signed by hundreds of his compatriots. He could not prevent the passage of the bill but succeeded in drawing the attention of the public and the press in Natal, India, and England to the Natal Indians’ grievances. He was persuaded to settle down in Durban to practice law and to organize the Indian community. In 1894 he founded the Natal Indian Congress, of which he himself became the indefatigable secretary. Through that common political organization, he infused a spirit of solidarity in the heterogeneous Indian community. He flooded the government, the legislature, and the press with closely reasoned statements of Indian grievances. Finally, he exposed to the view of the outside world the skeleton in the imperial cupboard, the discrimination practiced against the Indian subjects of Queen Victoria in one of her own colonies in Africa. It was a measure of his success as a publicist that such important newspapers as The Times of London and The Statesman and Englishman of Calcutta (now Kolkata) editorially commented on the Natal Indians’ grievances.

In 1896 Gandhi went to India to fetch his wife, Kasturba (or Kasturbai), and their two oldest children and to canvass support for the Indians overseas. He met prominent leaders and persuaded them to address public meetings in the country’s principal cities. Unfortunately for him, garbled versions of his activities and utterances reached Natal and inflamed its European population. On landing at Durban in January 1897, he was assaulted and nearly lynched by a white mob. Joseph Chamberlain, the colonial secretary in the British Cabinet, cabled the government of Natal to bring the guilty men to book, but Gandhi refused to prosecute his assailants. It was, he said, a principle with him not to seek redress of a personal wrong in a court of law.


Fasting, with young Indira Gandhi, mid-1920s
Resistance and results
Gandhi was not the man to nurse a grudge. On the outbreak of the South African (Boer) War in 1899, he argued that the Indians, who claimed the full rights of citizenship in the British crown colony of Natal, were in duty bound to defend it. He raised an ambulance corps of 1,100 volunteers, out of whom 300 were free Indians and the rest indentured labourers. It was a motley crowd: barristers and accountants, artisans and labourers. It was Gandhi’s task to instill in them a spirit of service to those whom they regarded as their oppressors. The editor of the Pretoria News offered an insightful portrait of Gandhi in the battle zone:

After a night’s work which had shattered men with much bigger frames, I came across Gandhi in the early morning sitting by the roadside eating a regulation army biscuit. Every man in [General] Buller’s force was dull and depressed, and damnation was heartily invoked on everything. But Gandhi was stoical in his bearing, cheerful and confident in his conversation and had a kindly eye.

The British victory in the war brought little relief to the Indians in South Africa. The new regime in South Africa was to blossom into a partnership, but only between Boers and Britons. Gandhi saw that, with the exception of a few Christian missionaries and youthful idealists, he had been unable to make a perceptible impression upon the South African Europeans. In 1906 the Transvaal government published a particularly humiliating ordinance for the registration of its Indian population. The Indians held a mass protest meeting at Johannesburg in September 1906 and, under Gandhi’s leadership, took a pledge to defy the ordinance if it became law in the teeth of their opposition and to suffer all the penalties resulting from their defiance. Thus was born satyagraha (“devotion to truth”), a new technique for redressing wrongs through inviting, rather than inflicting, suffering, for resisting adversaries without rancour and fighting them without violence.

The struggle in South Africa lasted for more than seven years. It had its ups and downs, but under Gandhi’s leadership, the small Indian minority kept up its resistance against heavy odds. Hundreds of Indians chose to sacrifice their livelihood and liberty rather than submit to laws repugnant to their conscience and self-respect. In the final phase of the movement in 1913, hundreds of Indians, including women, went to jail, and thousands of Indian workers who had struck work in the mines bravely faced imprisonment, flogging, and even shooting. It was a terrible ordeal for the Indians, but it was also the worst possible advertisement for the South African government, which, under pressure from the governments of Britain and India, accepted a compromise negotiated by Gandhi on the one hand and the South African statesman Gen. Jan Christian Smuts on the other.

“The saint has left our shores,” Smuts wrote to a friend on Gandhi’s departure from South Africa for India, in July 1914, “I hope for ever.” A quarter century later, he wrote that it had been his “fate to be the antagonist of a man for whom even then I had the highest respect.” Once, during his not-infrequent stays in jail, Gandhi had prepared a pair of sandals for Smuts, who recalled that there was no hatred and personal ill-feeling between them, and when the fight was over “there was the atmosphere in which a decent peace could be concluded.”

As later events were to show, Gandhi’s work did not provide an enduring solution for the Indian problem in South Africa. What he did to South Africa was indeed less important than what South Africa did to him. It had not treated him kindly, but, by drawing him into the vortex of its racial problem, it had provided him with the ideal setting in which his peculiar talents could unfold themselves.


Mohandas K. Gandhi and other delegates attending the Round Table Conference in London, 1931.
  The religious quest
Gandhi’s religious quest dated back to his childhood, the influence of his mother and of his home life in Porbandar and Rajkot, but it received a great impetus after his arrival in South Africa. His Quaker friends in Pretoria failed to convert him to Christianity, but they quickened his appetite for religious studies. He was fascinated by the writings of Leo Tolstoy on Christianity, read the Quʾrān in translation, and delved into Hindu scriptures and philosophy. The study of comparative religion, talks with scholars, and his own reading of theological works brought him to the conclusion that all religions were true and yet every one of them was imperfect because they were “interpreted with poor intellects, sometimes with poor hearts, and more often misinterpreted.” Shrimad Rajchandra, a brilliant young Jain philosopher who became Gandhi’s spiritual mentor, convinced him of “the subtlety and profundity” of Hinduism, the religion of his birth. And it was the Bhagavadgita, which Gandhi had first read in London, that became his “spiritual dictionary” and exercised probably the greatest single influence on his life. Two Sanskrit words in the Gita particularly fascinated him. One was aparigraha (“nonpossession”), which implies that people have to jettison the material goods that cramp the life of the spirit and to shake off the bonds of money and property. The other was samabhava (“equability”), which enjoins people to remain unruffled by pain or pleasure, victory or defeat, and to work without hope of success or fear of failure.
Those were not merely counsels of perfection. In the civil case that had taken him to South Africa in 1893, he had persuaded the antagonists to settle their differences out of court. The true function of a lawyer seemed to him “to unite parties riven asunder.” He soon regarded his clients not as purchasers of his services but as friends; they consulted him not only on legal issues but on such matters as the best way of weaning a baby or balancing the family budget. When an associate protested that clients came even on Sundays, Gandhi replied: “A man in distress cannot have Sunday rest.”

Gandhi’s legal earnings reached a peak figure of £5,000 a year, but he had little interest in moneymaking, and his savings were often sunk in his public activities. In Durban and later in Johannesburg, he kept an open table; his house was a virtual hostel for younger colleagues and political coworkers. This was something of an ordeal for his wife, without whose extraordinary patience, endurance, and self-effacement Gandhi could hardly have devoted himself to public causes. As he broke through the conventional bonds of family and property, their life tended to shade into a community life.

Gandhi felt an irresistible attraction to a life of simplicity, manual labour, and austerity. In 1904—after reading John Ruskin’s Unto This Last, a critique of capitalism—he set up a farm at Phoenix near Durban where he and his friends could live by the sweat of their brow. Six years later another colony grew up under Gandhi’s fostering care near Johannesburg; it was named Tolstoy Farm for the Russian writer and moralist, whom Gandhi admired and corresponded with. Those two settlements were the precursors of the more-famous ashrams (religious retreats) in India, at Sabarmati near Ahmedabad (Ahmadabad) and at Sevagram near Wardha.

South Africa had not only prompted Gandhi to evolve a novel technique for political action but also transformed him into a leader of men by freeing him from bonds that make cowards of most men. “Persons in power,” the British Classical scholar Gilbert Murray prophetically wrote about Gandhi in the Hibbert Journal in 1918,

should be very careful how they deal with a man who cares nothing for sensual pleasure, nothing for riches, nothing for comfort or praise, or promotion, but is simply determined to do what he believes to be right. He is a dangerous and uncomfortable enemy, because his body which you can always conquer gives you so little purchase upon his soul.


Mohandas K. Gandhi
  Return to India
Gandhi decided to leave South Africa in the summer of 1914, just before the outbreak of World War I. He and his family first went to London, where they remained for several months. Finally, they departed England in December, arriving in Bombay in early January 1915.

Emergence as nationalist leader
For the next three years, Gandhi seemed to hover uncertainly on the periphery of Indian politics, declining to join any political agitation, supporting the British war effort, and even recruiting soldiers for the British Indian Army. At the same time, he did not flinch from criticizing the British officials for any acts of high-handedness or from taking up the grievances of the long-suffering peasantry in Bihar and Gujarat. By February 1919, however, the British had insisted on pushing through—in the teeth of fierce Indian opposition—the Rowlatt Acts, which empowered the authorities to imprison without trial those suspected of sedition. A provoked Gandhi finally revealed a sense of estrangement from the British Raj and announced a satyagraha struggle. The result was a virtual political earthquake that shook the subcontinent in the spring of 1919. The violent outbreaks that followed—notably the Massacre of Amritsar, which was the killing by British-led soldiers of nearly 400 Indians who were gathered in an open space in Amritsar in the Punjab region (now in Punjab state), and the enactment of martial law—prompted him to stay his hand. However, within a year he was again in a militant mood, having in the meantime been irrevocably alienated by British insensitiveness to Indian feeling on the Punjab tragedy and Muslim resentment on the peace terms offered to Turkey following World War I.

By the autumn of 1920, Gandhi was the dominant figure on the political stage, commanding an influence never before attained by any political leader in India or perhaps in any other country. He refashioned the 35-year-old Indian National Congress (Congress Party) into an effective political instrument of Indian nationalism: from a three-day Christmas-week picnic of the upper middle class in one of the principal cities of India, it became a mass organization with its roots in small towns and villages. Gandhi’s message was simple: it was not British guns but imperfections of Indians themselves that kept their country in bondage. His program, the nonviolent noncooperation movement against the British government, included boycotts not only of British manufactures but of institutions operated or aided by the British in India: legislatures, courts, offices, schools. The campaign electrified the country, broke the spell of fear of foreign rule, and led to the arrests of thousands of satyagrahis, who defied laws and cheerfully lined up for prison. In February 1922 the movement seemed to be on the crest of a rising wave, but, alarmed by a violent outbreak in Chauri Chaura, a remote village in eastern India, Gandhi decided to call off mass civil disobedience. That was a blow to many of his followers, who feared that his self-imposed restraints and scruples would reduce the nationalist struggle to pious futility. Gandhi himself was arrested on March 10, 1922, tried for sedition, and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. He was released in February 1924, after undergoing surgery for appendicitis. The political landscape had changed in his absence. The Congress Party had split into two factions, one under Chitta Ranjan Das and Motilal Nehru (the father of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister) favouring the entry of the party into legislatures and the other under Chakravarti Rajagopalachari and Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel opposing it. Worst of all, the unity between Hindus and Muslims of the heyday of the noncooperation movement of 1920–22 had dissolved. Gandhi tried to draw the warring communities out of their suspicion and fanaticism by reasoning and persuasion. Finally, after a serious outbreak of communal unrest, he undertook a three-week fast in the autumn of 1924 to arouse the people into following the path of nonviolence. In December 1924 he was named president of the Congress Party, and he served for a year.

Mohandas K. Gandhi, 1942.
  Return to party leadership
During the mid-1920s Gandhi took little interest in active politics and was considered a spent force. In 1927, however, the British government appointed a constitutional reform commission under Sir John Simon, a prominent English lawyer and politician, that did not contain a single Indian. When the Congress and other parties boycotted the commission, the political tempo rose. At the Congress session (meeting) at Calcutta in December 1928, Gandhi put forth the crucial resolution demanding dominion status from the British government within a year under threat of a nationwide nonviolent campaign for complete independence. Henceforth, Gandhi was back as the leading voice of the Congress Party. In March 1930 he launched the Salt March, a satyagraha against the British-imposed tax on salt, which affected the poorest section of the community. One of the most spectacular and successful campaigns in Gandhi’s nonviolent war against the British Raj, it resulted in the imprisonment of more than 60,000 people. A year later, after talks with the viceroy, Lord Irwin (later Lord Halifax), Gandhi accepted a truce (the Gandhi-Irwin Pact), called off civil disobedience, and agreed to attend the Round Table Conference in London as the sole representative of the Indian National Congress.

The conference, which concentrated on the problem of the Indian minorities rather than on the transfer of power from the British, was a great disappointment to the Indian nationalists.
Moreover, when Gandhi returned to India in December 1931, he found his party facing an all-out offensive from Lord Irwin’s successor as viceroy, Lord Willingdon, who unleashed the sternest repression in the history of the nationalist movement. Gandhi was once more imprisoned, and the government tried to insulate him from the outside world and to destroy his influence. That was not an easy task. Gandhi soon regained the initiative. In September 1932, while still a prisoner, he embarked on a fast to protest against the British government’s decision to segregate the so-called untouchables (the lowest level of the Indian caste system) by allotting them separate electorates in the new constitution. The fast produced an emotional upheaval in the country, and an alternative electoral arrangement was jointly and speedily devised by the leaders of the Hindu community and the untouchables and endorsed by the British government. The fast became the starting point of a vigorous campaign for the removal of the disabilities of the untouchables, whom Gandhi referred to as Harijans, or “children of God.” (That term has fallen out of favour, replaced by Dalit; Scheduled Castes is the official designation.)

In 1934 Gandhi resigned not only as the leader but also as a member of the Congress Party. He had come to believe that its leading members had adopted nonviolence as a political expedient and not as the fundamental creed it was for him. In place of political activity he then concentrated on his “constructive programme” of building the nation “from the bottom up”—educating rural India, which accounted for 85 percent of the population; continuing his fight against untouchability; promoting hand spinning, weaving, and other cottage industries to supplement the earnings of the underemployed peasantry; and evolving a system of education best suited to the needs of the people. Gandhi himself went to live at Sevagram, a village in central India, which became the centre of his program of social and economic uplift.


Mohandas K. Gandhi, 1935.
The last phase
With the outbreak of World War II, the nationalist struggle in India entered its last crucial phase. Gandhi hated fascism and all it stood for, but he also hated war. The Indian National Congress, on the other hand, was not committed to pacifism and was prepared to support the British war effort if Indian self-government was assured. Once more Gandhi became politically active.

The failure of the mission of Sir Stafford Cripps, a British cabinet minister who went to India in March 1942 with an offer that Gandhi found unacceptable, the British equivocation on the transfer of power to Indian hands, and the encouragement given by high British officials to conservative and communal forces promoting discord between Muslims and Hindus impelled Gandhi to demand in the summer of 1942 an immediate British withdrawal from India—what became known as the Quit India Movement.

In mid-1942 the war against the Axis Powers, particularly Japan, was in a critical phase, and the British reacted sharply to the campaign. They imprisoned the entire Congress leadership and set out to crush the party once and for all.
There were violent outbreaks that were sternly suppressed, and the gulf between Britain and India became wider than ever before. Gandhi, his wife, and several other top party leaders (including Nehru) were confined in the Aga Khan Palace (now the Gandhi National Memorial) in Poona (now Pune). Kasturba died there in early 1944, shortly before Gandhi and the others were released.

  A new chapter in Indo-British relations opened with the victory of the Labour Party in Britain 1945. During the next two years, there were prolonged triangular negotiations between leaders of the Congress, the Muslim League under Mohammad Ali Jinnah, and the British government, culminating in the Mountbatten Plan of June 3, 1947, and the formation of the two new dominions of India and Pakistan in mid-August 1947.

It was one of the greatest disappointments of Gandhi’s life that Indian freedom was realized without Indian unity. Muslim separatism had received a great boost while Gandhi and his colleagues were in jail, and in 1946–47, as the final constitutional arrangements were being negotiated, the outbreak of communal riots between Hindus and Muslims unhappily created a climate in which Gandhi’s appeals to reason and justice, tolerance and trust had little chance. When partition of the subcontinent was accepted—against his advice—he threw himself heart and soul into the task of healing the scars of the communal conflict, toured the riot-torn areas in Bengal and Bihar, admonished the bigots, consoled the victims, and tried to rehabilitate the refugees. In the atmosphere of that period, surcharged with suspicion and hatred, that was a difficult and heartbreaking task. Gandhi was blamed by partisans of both the communities. When persuasion failed, he went on a fast. He won at least two spectacular triumphs: in September 1947 his fasting stopped the rioting in Calcutta, and in January 1948 he shamed the city of Delhi into a communal truce. A few days later, on January 30, while he was on his way to his evening prayer meeting in Delhi, he was shot down by Nathuram Godse, a young Hindu fanatic.


Gandhi with famous poet Rabindranath Tagore, 1940
Place in history
The British attitude toward Gandhi was one of mingled admiration, amusement, bewilderment, suspicion, and resentment. Except for a tiny minority of Christian missionaries and radical socialists, the British tended to see him at best as a utopian visionary and at worst as a cunning hypocrite whose professions of friendship for the British race were a mask for subversion of the British Raj. Gandhi was conscious of the existence of that wall of prejudice, and it was part of the strategy of satyagraha to penetrate it.

His three major campaigns in 1920–22, 1930–34, and 1940–42 were well designed to engender that process of self-doubt and questioning that was to undermine the moral defenses of his adversaries and to contribute, together with the objective realities of the postwar world, to producing the grant of dominion status in 1947. The British abdication in India was the first step in the liquidation of the British Empire on the continents of Asia and Africa. Gandhi’s image as a rebel and enemy died hard, but, as it had done to the memory of George Washington, Britain, in 1969, the centenary year of Gandhi’s birth, erected a statue to his memory.


Gandhi and Nehru in 1942
Gandhi had critics in his own country and indeed in his own party. The liberal leaders protested that he was going too fast; the young radicals complained that he was not going fast enough; left-wing politicians alleged that he was not serious about evicting the British or liquidating such vested Indian interests as princes and landlords; the leaders of the untouchables doubted his good faith as a social reformer; and Muslim leaders accused him of partiality to his own community.

Research in the second half of the 20th century established Gandhi’s role as a great mediator and reconciler. His talents in that direction were applied to conflicts between the older moderate politicians and the young radicals, the political terrorists and the parliamentarians, the urban intelligentsia and the rural masses, the traditionalists and the modernists, the caste Hindus and the untouchables, the Hindus and the Muslims, and the Indians and the British.


Mohandas K. Gandhi with his grandniece Manu (left) and his grandnephew Kanu’s wife, Abha.
Few of his political colleagues went all the way with him and accepted nonviolence as a creed; fewer still shared his food fads, his interest in mudpacks and nature cure, or his prescription of brahmacarya, complete renunciation of the pleasures of the flesh.

Gandhi’s ideas on sex may now sound quaint and unscientific. His marriage at the age of 13 seems to have complicated his attitude toward sex and charged it with feelings of guilt, but it is important to remember that total sublimation, according to the best tradition of Hindu thought, is indispensable for those who seek self-realization, and brahmacarya was for Gandhi part of a larger discipline in food, sleep, thought, prayer, and daily activity designed to equip himself for service of the causes to which he was totally committed. What he failed to see was that his own unique experience was no guide for the common man.


Mohandas K. Gandhi reading at home, 1946.
It was inevitable that Gandhi’s role as a political leader should loom larger in the public imagination, but the mainspring of his life lay in religion, not in politics. And religion for him did not mean formalism, dogma, ritual, or sectarianism. “What I have been striving and pining to achieve these thirty years,” he wrote in his autobiography, “is to see God face to face.”

His deepest strivings were spiritual, but unlike many of his fellow Indians with such aspirations, he did not retire to a cave in the Himalayas to meditate on the Absolute; he carried his cave, as he once said, within him. For him truth was not something to be discovered in the privacy of one’s personal life; it had to be upheld in the challenging contexts of social and political life.

Gandhi won the affection and loyalty of gifted men and women, old and young, with vastly dissimilar talents and temperaments; of Europeans of every religious persuasion; and of Indians of almost every political line.


Mohandas K. Gandhi
  Scholars have continued to judge Gandhi’s place in history. He was the catalyst if not the initiator of three of the major revolutions of the 20th century: the movements against colonialism, racism, and violence. He wrote copiously; the collected edition of his writings had reached 100 volumes by the early 21st century.

Much of what he wrote was in response to the needs of his coworkers and disciples and the exigencies of the political situation, but on fundamentals he maintained a remarkable consistency, as is evident from the Hind Swaraj (“Indian Home Rule”), published in South Africa in 1909. The strictures on Western materialism and colonialism, the reservations about industrialism and urbanization, the distrust of the modern state, and the total rejection of violence that was expressed in that book seemed romantic, if not reactionary, to the pre-World War I generation in India and the West, which had not known the shocks of two global wars or experienced the phenomenon of Adolf Hitler and the trauma of the atom bomb. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s objective of promoting a just and egalitarian order at home and nonalignment with military blocs abroad doubtless owed much to Gandhi, but neither he nor his colleagues in the Indian nationalist movement wholly accepted the Gandhian models in politics and economics.

In the years since Gandhi’s death, his name has been invoked by the organizers of numerous demonstrations and movements. However, with a few outstanding exceptions—such as those of his disciple the land reformer Vinoba Bhave in India and of the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., in the United States—those movements have been a travesty of the ideas of Gandhi.

Yet Gandhi will probably never lack champions. Erik H. Erikson, a distinguished American psychoanalyst, in his study of Gandhi senses “an affinity between Gandhi’s truth and the insights of modern psychology.” One of the greatest admirers of Gandhi was Albert Einstein, who saw in Gandhi’s nonviolence a possible antidote to the massive violence unleashed by the fission of the atom. And Gunnar Myrdal, the Swedish economist, after his survey of the socioeconomic problems of the underdeveloped world, pronounced Gandhi “in practically all fields an enlightened liberal.” In a time of deepening crisis in the underdeveloped world, of social malaise in the affluent societies, of the shadow of unbridled technology and the precarious peace of nuclear terror, it seems likely that Gandhi’s ideas and techniques will become increasingly relevant.

B.R. Nanda

Encyclopædia Britannica

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