Joseph Chamberlain

by Justin Widlund
Class of 1997

Joseph Chamberlain was born in 1836 in London. He was born into a wealthy family business that gave him the drive to go on to a more driving career. His family was a liberal nonconformist religion family. He entered the family business at the age of 16. The family business was a shoe manufacturer. He worked incredibly hard for the next 22 years breaking the backs of his competitors. At the age of 38 he was able to retire a very wealthy man and live off of his earnings. In 1873 he was elected mayor of Birmingham. This is where is his political career started.

In 1876 he was elected to Parliament. He took no time in becoming a power in congress. He was considered a socialist and a very powerful liberal. He appealed to the public for his middle class upbringings. His confidence and brash will scared off many of his opponents and peers. He fought year in and year out for the poor and middle class. He pushed forward with plan after plan creating a better life for theses two classes. As the party broke into two parts Chamberlain backed the conservative part of the party.

This new party was backed by the Liberal Unionists, "which Chamberlain was a part of." This new group controlled the British politics for some years. Between the 1886 and 1906. He used his power to push the conservatives into more social policies. Before 1892 he saw many policies that were for more progression.

In the office of Conservative Cabinet where he was made secretary of the cabinet, he became increasingly aware of the Boers in Africa. He was involved in the Jameson Raid, which was an a failed mission which led them to court. There, Chamberlain was able to defend himself in a court and got off Scot-free. At this point he was well known for his anti-Boer War stance and took a lot of flak for his ideas. When relations got worse he supported it with his heart and soul. This war made England look weak in the eyes of the rest of the world. It showed all of its problems form being a bully to being very weak. Chamberlain looked to giving the colonies self rule. He then created a new tariff that would cause England to be dependent on the colonies and vice -versa. He could not get this tariff through the stiff opposition of the conservatives. He resigned his position because he was upset and angry. In 1906 the conservatives went down during the election because of Chamberlain's view on the whole market.

Chamberlain then was paralyzed by a stroke in 1906 after his last political victory. He was considered one of Britain's strongest politicians and showed his power through his years in the lime light.