James Ramsay Macdonald

Macdonald, James Ramsay

 

Born Oct. 12, 1866, in Lossiemouth, Morayshire, Scotland; died Nov. 9, 1937, while on a journey to South America. British statesman and politician. A leader of the Labour Party. The son of a Scottish worker.

MacDonald was a schoolteacher. He joined the Social Democratic Federation in 1885, the Fabian Society in 1886, and the Independent Labour Party in 1894 (from 1906 to 1909 he served as chairman of the party). From 1900 to 1912, MacDonald was secretary of the Labour Party (which before 1906 was known as the Labour Representation Committee); from 1912 to 1924 he served as the party treasurer. MacDonald was first elected to Parliament in 1906. During World War I he took a pacifist position.

In 1924 and again from 1929 to 1931, MacDonald was the prime minister of Labourite governments. In 1931 he headed a “national” government, which emerged from a split in the Labour Party. At the same time he, J. H. Thomas, and P. Snowden formed the National Labour Party. MacDonald facilitated the adoption of the Dawes Plan. In February 1924 the MacDonald government recognized the Soviet government de jure and in the autumn of 1929 reestablished diplomatic relations with the USSR, which had been broken off in 1927 by a Conservative government. The MacDonald governments essentially continued the colonial policy of the Conservatives; they suppressed national liberation movements in India, Iraq, and other British colonies.

REFERENCES

Tiltman Hessell, H. J. R. MacDonald. New York, 1929.
Weir, L. M. The Tragedy of R. MacDonald [2nd ed.]. London, 1938.
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1924: James Ramsay MacDonald became Britain's first Labour Prime minister.
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1924: James Ramsay MacDonald (pictured) became Britain's first Labour Prime minister.
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