Biography of Joseph Chamberlain


Chamberlain, Joseph. Eminent British statesman. Born in London July, 1836. Educated in private school and University College, London. Joined the firm of Nettlefold, screw makers of Birmingham. Was one of the leaders of the defeated nonsectarian candidates of the school board of Birmingham in 1870, but in 1873 he was elected chairman, and was also a member of the town council (mayor, 1873). On the death of his father, Chamberlain retired from the firm in order to devote all his energies to public life. To him was due the transfer of the gas and water works to the borough authorities, and he was the author of the improvement scheme, which has entirely transformed the face of central Birmingham. In 1876 he entered parliament, and took his seat below the gangway with the Radicals. President Board of Trade with cabinet rank, 1880-85, and passed a patents bill and a bankruptcy bill. President of Local Government Board in 1885 until his divergence of views on the Irish policy of Mr. Gladstone caused his resignation (March, 1886). Chief commissioner to the conference at Washington for the settlement of the dispute between the United States and Canada on the fisheries question. Married Miss Endicott, November 15, 1888. In 1895, Chamberlain took office under Lord Salisbury as colonial secretary. The negotiations with the Transvaal, which ended in war, occupied him fully during 1899, and his South African policy was one of the main controversial features of the general election of 1900 and during 1901. He had charge in 1900 of the measure for the constitution of the Australian Commonwealth. In February 1902, he was presented with an address by the City of London Corporation. He presided over the 1902 Colonial Conference. In November 1902, Chamberlain visited South Africa, and on his return received an address from the Lord Mayor and Corporation of London (March, 1903). In May 1903, he launched, at Birmingham, his scheme for the revision of the fiscal policy of the country and the adoption of a policy of preferential tariffs; and in September, believing that policy to be at that time unacceptable to the majority in the constituencies, he resigned in order to be free to devote himself to explaining and popularizing his proposals. He began his campaign for this purpose at Glasgow on October 6, 1903, and the tariff commission was afterwards set up on his initiative. His 70th birthday and completion of 30 years' service as member of parliament for Birmingham were celebrated on July 7, 1906. He was returned for West Birmingham again in 1910. Died 1914.