Palmerston, Henry John Temple, 3d Viscount

Palmerston, Henry John Temple, 3d Viscount,

1784–1865, British statesman. His viscountcy, to which he succeeded in 1802, was in the Irish peerage and therefore did not prevent him from entering the House of Commons in 1807. Initially a Tory, he served (1809–28) as secretary of war, but he differed with his party over his advocacy of parliamentary reform and joined (1830) the Whig government of the 2d Earl Grey as foreign minister. A firm believer in liberal constitutionalism, Palmerston was instrumental in securing the independence of Belgium (1830–31), and in 1834 he formed a quadruple alliance with France, Spain, and Portugal to help the Iberian countries put down rebellions aimed at restoring absolutist rule. He also organized the joint intervention with Russia, Austria, Prussia, and a reluctant France to prevent the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire as a result of the revolt of Muhammad AliMuhammad Ali,
1769?–1849, pasha of Egypt after 1805. He was a common soldier who rose to leadership by his military skill and political acumen. In 1799 he commanded a Turkish army in an unsuccessful attempt to drive Napoleon from Egypt.
..... Click the link for more information.
 of Egypt (1839–41). He was in opposition during Sir Robert Peel's administration (1841–46) but returned to the foreign office under Lord John Russell. Palmerston was an impulsive man who often acted without consultation; during his second period as foreign secretary he succeeded in offending not only foreign powers but also his colleagues and Queen Victoria. He quarreled with France in the affair of the Spanish Marriages (1846; see Isabella IIIsabella II,
1830–1904, queen of Spain (1833–68), daughter of Ferdinand VII and of Maria Christina. Her uncle, Don Carlos, contested her succession under the Salic law, and thus the Carlist Wars began (see Carlists).
..... Click the link for more information.
), gave encouragement to the European revolutionaries of 1848, and in 1850 caused widespread outrage by blockading Greece in order to secure compensation for Don Pacifico, a Portuguese merchant claiming British citizenship, whose house in Athens had been destroyed in a riot. Finally his unofficial and unauthorized approval of the coup in France by Napoleon III led to his dismissal in 1851. Nevertheless he became home secretary in 1852 and in 1855 succeeded the 4th earl of Aberdeen as prime minister. His vigorous prosecution of the Crimean WarCrimean War
, 1853–56, war between Russia on the one hand and the Ottoman Empire, Great Britain, France, and Sardinia on the other. The causes of the conflict were inherent in the unsolved Eastern Question.
..... Click the link for more information.
 increased his already great popularity, as did the effective suppression of the Indian MutinyIndian Mutiny,
1857–58, revolt that began with Indian soldiers in the Bengal army of the British East India Company but developed into a widespread uprising against British rule in India. It is also known as the Sepoy Rebellion, sepoys being the native soldiers.
..... Click the link for more information.
, and although he lost office in 1858, he returned to power in 1859 and remained prime minister until his death. His attitude greatly facilitated the progress of the Italian RisorgimentoRisorgimento
[Ital.,=resurgence], in 19th-century Italian history, period of cultural nationalism and of political activism, leading to unification of Italy. Roots of the Risorgimento
..... Click the link for more information.
 and the proclamation (1861) of the kingdom of Italy, but his attempt (1864) to help the Danes in the Schleswig-HolsteinSchleswig-Holstein
, state (1994 pop. 2,595,000), c.6,050 sq mi (15,670 sq km), NW Germany. Kiel (the capital and chief port), Lübeck, Flensburg, and Neumünster are the major cities.
..... Click the link for more information.
 question was unsuccessful. He maintained British neutrality in the American Civil War, despite his sympathy for the South and despite the irritating Trent AffairTrent Affair,
incident in the diplomatic relations between the United States and Great Britain, which occurred during the American Civil War. On Nov. 8, 1861, the British mail packet Trent, carrying James M.
..... Click the link for more information.
. Palmerston was not much interested in internal affairs, but he did firmly oppose further parliamentary reform. His diplomacy, reckless and domineering though it frequently was, usually served to advance British prestige.


See biographies by H. Lytton Bulwer and E. Ashley (5 vol., 1870–76), D. Southgate (1966), J. G. Ridley (1970), K. Bourne (Vol. 1, 1982); study by C. K. Webster (2 vol., 1951; repr. 1969).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.