Palmerston, Third Viscount

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Palmerston, Third Viscount


(Henry John Temple). Born Oct. 20, 1784, in London; died Oct. 18, 1865, in Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire. English statesman.

Born into an aristocratic family, Palmerston was educated at the universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge. At the beginning of his political career, he was affiliated with the Tories, but in 1830 he joined the Whigs. He was in the House of Commons from 1807. From 1809 to 1829, Palmerston was secretary of war; from 1830 to 1834, 1835 to 1841, and 1846 to 1851, foreign secretary; and from 1852 to 1855, home secretary. From 1855 to 1858, and again from 1859 until his death, he was prime minister.

In his domestic policy, Palmerston opposed any reforms whatsoever and was a proponent of repressive measures against the workers’ movement and the national liberation movement in Ireland. His foreign policy was based on the principle of the balance of power. This principle, which was traditional for Great Britain, envisioned the division of Europe into groups of powers that were mutually hostile and thus weakened each other.

At the beginning of Palmerston’s tenure in power, Great Britain’s relations with France and Russia were considerably strained. Palmerston’s Russian policy was defined by a fear of growing Russian power, which would take the form of greater influence in the Ottoman Empire and territorial expansion in the direction of India. During the Crimean War (1853–56), Palmerston advocated the seizure of Sevastopol’ and the separation of a number of regions from the Russian Empire. Palmerston promoted the expansionist foreign policy of the British bourgeoisie and the growth of the British colonial empire. His government suppressed the Indian popular uprising of 1857–59 and participated in the suppression of the Taiping Rebellion in China. During the US Civil War, Palmerston fostered plans for intervention in support of the slaveholders of the South.


Marx, K. “Lord Pal’merston.” K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 9.
Webster, C. K. The Foreign Policy of Palmerston, 1830–1841, vols. 1–2. London, 1951.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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