Joseph Chamberlain: A Most Radical Imperialist

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I.B.Tauris, Mar 30, 2011 - History - 288 pages
A powerful politician and brilliant orator, Joseph Chamberlain came to be one of the most dynamic political figures of the late-Victorian and early-Edwardian eras. He was the driving force of every political group of which he was a member, earning him the name 'Pushful Joe'. Yet despite this, Chamberlain is remembered as a somewhat contradictory figure. During his early career as a radical Liberal, Chamberlain sought to create a radicalised national movement, organising the National Liberal Federation as a means of spreading radical propaganda throughout the countryside. Soon after the establishment of this organisation and his subsequent rise in power, in which he became a member of Gladstone’s cabinet, Chamberlain supported British military intervention in Egypt - a decision said by many to reflect imperialist views, and to be contrary to Chamberlain’s Liberal ideals. In fact just a short time later, the parliamentary campaign of 1886 that resulted in the Liberal Split saw Chamberlain and his Liberal Unionist Party ally itself with the Conservatives. Furthering his departure from his early radical views, Chamberlain became Colonial Secretary to Lord Salisbury and was one of the main supporters of the Boer War. After taking up with the Conservatives, however, Joseph Chamberlain became deeply dissatisfied with the leadership of Salisbury and Arthur Balfour, and was instrumental in their downfall. But what drove Chamberlain to practice politics in manner in which he did? Travis Crosby here examines the motives of the ever-intriguing Chamberlain, exploring his continual personal quest for power and control, fostered by his upbringing and his ancestral tradition of entrepreneurship. Crosby considers Chamberlain’s considerable accomplishments and provides an illuminating analysis of one of Britain’s most influential politicians.

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About the author (2011)

Travis L. Crosby is Professor Emeritus of History at Wheaton College, Massachusetts, USA.