Joseph Chamberlain

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Related to Joseph Chamberlain: Neville Chamberlain

Chamberlain, Joseph,

1836–1914, British statesman. After a successful business career, he entered local politics and won distinction as a reforming mayor of Birmingham (1873–76). Entering Parliament as a Liberal in 1876, Chamberlain advocated radical social reform and served under William GladstoneGladstone, William Ewart,
1809–98, British statesman, the dominant personality of the Liberal party from 1868 until 1894. A great orator and a master of finance, he was deeply religious and brought a highly moralistic tone to politics.
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 as president of the Board of Trade (1880–85). In 1886, however, he broke with Gladstone, leading the defection from the Liberal party of the Liberal Unionists (those Liberals who opposed Home RuleHome Rule,
in Irish and English history, political slogan adopted by Irish nationalists in the 19th cent. to describe their objective of self-government for Ireland. Origins of the Home Rule Movement
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 for Ireland). In 1887–88 he negotiated a treaty with the United States to settle the fisheries dispute between that country and Canada. Chamberlain became leader of the Liberal Unionists in the House of Commons in 1891, and in 1895 he joined the Conservative government as colonial secretary. While maintaining his interest in social reform at home, he pursued a vigorous colonial policy aimed at imperial expansion, cooperation, and consolidation. Although a parliamentary inquiry cleared him of complicity in the Jameson Raid (see Jameson, Sir Leander StarrJameson, Sir Leander Starr,
1853–1917, British colonial administrator and statesman in South Africa. He went to Kimberley (1878) as a physician, became associated with Cecil Rhodes in his colonizing ventures, and was appointed (1891) administrator of Mashonaland. On Dec.
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), there is some evidence that he was at least aware of the conspiracy. His subsequent attempts to reach a settlement with the Boers failed, resulting in the South African WarSouth African War
or Boer War,
1899–1902, war of the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State against Great Britain. Background
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 (1899–1902). After the war he worked for a conciliatory peace. Chamberlain's belief in the need for closer imperial union led him to espouse the cause of imperial preference in tariffs. However, this proposed abandonment of Great Britain's traditional free trade policy provoked great controversy, and in 1903 he resigned from office to spend three years in an attempt, through the Tariff Reform League, to convert the country to his views. His campaign split the Liberal Unionist–Conservative bloc and contributed to its defeat in the election of 1906. Ill health ended Chamberlain's public life in 1906, but his tariff policy was adopted (1919, 1932) within the lifetime of his sons, Austen and Neville.


See E. E. Gulley, Joseph Chamberlain and English Social Politics (1926); W. L. Strauss, Joseph Chamberlain and the Theory of Imperialism (1942, repr. 1971); biography (to 1903 only) by J. L. Garvin and J. Amery (6 vol., 1932–51); studies by R. V. Kubicek (1969) and M. Balfour (1985).

Chamberlain, Joseph


Born July 8, 1836, in London; died there July 2, 1914. British state figure.

A manufacturer by profession, Chamberlain began his political career as a member of the radical wing of the Liberal Party. He was mayor of Birmingham from 1873 to 1876, when he entered Parliament. He served in W. Gladstone’s cabinets from 1880 to 1885 and in 1886. In 1886, Chamberlain opposed the home rule bill, which was designed to grant autonomy to Ireland, and thereby split the Liberal Party; the separate, influential group that emerged under his leadership, the Liberal Unionists, later merged with the Conservatives.

From 1895 to 1903, Chamberlain was colonial secretary in Conservative cabinets. During the Boer War of 1899–1902 he was a major spokesman and organizer of British expansionist policy. Beginning in 1903 he conducted an extensive campaign aimed at replacing free trade, which did not suit the interests of the monopolies, with a policy of protection. In 1906, illness forced Chamberlain to retire from politics.

References in periodicals archive ?
Such is Birmingham's gratitude to Joseph Chamberlain that its citizens held the biggest birthday party in their history to mark his 70th birthday in July 1906.
In 1895 Joseph Chamberlain accepted office as Secretary of State for the Colonies under Lord Salisbury, and gained a great reputation in that post.
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By 1875, Joseph Chamberlain had become one of the most popular men ever to live in the region but that year subjected him to more personal trauma than he could handle.
Despite dying a month shy of the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Sir Joseph Chamberlain is still said to have a presence in the building.
A cartoon mocking Joseph Chamberlain statue in Birmingham from a cartoon in The Dart in 1887 (above); political figures from Birmingham, including Joseph Chamberlain in The Dart in 1885 (far left) and (left) a cartoon of John Bright and a Zulu warrior from in 1882
JCC GETS A GLOWING OFSTED REPORT Having celebrated its best ever exam results a few months ago, Joseph Chamberlain College is celebrating again after a glowing Ofsted Inspection.
Joseph Chamberlain transformed Birmingham as mayor in the 1870s
The former site of Joseph Chamberlain Sixth Form College now offers views to the city centre.
So, if the Palace of Westminster considers Joseph Chamberlain surplus to requirements, should the state be brought to Birmingham on long-term loan?
Carl looks at the life of legendary Birmingham MP Joseph Chamberlain AT EXACTLY midday on Saturday, July 7, 1906, all the factories and shops in Birmingham closed in honour of both the 70th birthday of Joseph Chamberlain and of the 30th year of his continuous representation as a MP for the city.