British Prime Minister: 1902-5

"I am more or less happy when being praised, not very comfortable when being abused, but I have moments of uneasiness when being explained"

Arthur James Balfour was born on the 25th of July 1848 in East Lothian, Scotland and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge.

Balfour began his political career as the Conservative MP for Hertford in 1874. His uncle and mentor, Robert Cecil: the Marquess of Salisbury and Foreign Secretary, was to have Balfour as his private secretary in 1878.

He was elected as the MP for East Manchester in 1885 as a member of the the "Fourth Party". His uncle was now Prime Minister and appointed him as Secretary for Scotland and then Secretary for Ireland. His dynamic land reform policies resulted in him being credited with calming matters in Ireland for a generation. Strangely he attained the position of First Lord of the Treasury and Leader of the Commons in 1891 (and again in 1895), without actually being Prime Minister (The person normally associated with the titles).

"Conservative prejudices are rooted in a great past and Liberal ones in an imaginary future"

In 1902 he became Prime Minister, his primary policies were regarding Education and Defense. He put the 1902 Education Act through, and during his leadership the Boer War finally came to an end. Balfour set up the Committee for Imperial Defence which was to ensure Britain was ready in case of any future wars. He set up the "entente cordiale" with France, one of many alliances that would be significant during the First World War.

Tariff Reform caused a split in his government and "Bloody Balfour" resigned in 1905. With no government in place, Edward VII invited Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman to take on the role. In the Liberal landslide that followed, Balfour lost his seat in Parliament.

He remained leader of the Conservative Party until 1911 when Andrew Bonar Law took the reins. His career was not yet over though, in 1915 Herbert Asquith asked Balfour to be First Lord of the Admiralty in the coalition government during the First World War. The following year, David Lloyd George invited him to be Foreign Secretary where he penned the very famous Balfour Declaration. Balfour is one of the undersigned on the Treaty of Versailles and represented Britain in the League of Nations from 1920-1922.

Balfour left government, but returned in 1925 as Lord President of the Council until 1929 in Stanley Baldwin's government. He died on the 19th of March, 1930.

One of his passions was philosophy and he had two philosophy books published: "Defense of Philosophical Doubt" published in 1879 and "Theism and Humanism" published in 1914, a 35 year gap.

"Nothing matters very much, and very few things matter at all"


Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.