Lord Randolph Churchill

From Academic Kids

The Lord Randolph Henry Spencer-Churchill (13 February 1849 - 24 January 1895) was a British statesman.

Lord Randolph was the third son of the 7th Duke of Marlborough and Frances, daughter of the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry. He was the father of the Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.

Contents

Early Life

He was born at Blenheim Palace, the family seat. His early education was conducted at home, and at Tabor's Preparatory School at Cheam. In January 1863 he went to Eton College, where he remained until July 1865. He did not stand out either at academic work or sport while at Eton; his contemporaries describe him as a vivacious and rather unruly boy. In October 1867 he matriculated at Merton College, Oxford. He had a liking for sport, but was also an avid reader, and obtained a second class degree in Jurisprudence and Modern History in 1870. In 1874 he was elected to Parliament as Conservative member for Woodstock, defeating George Brodrick, a fellow, and afterwards warden, of Merton College. His maiden speech, delivered in his first session, made no impression on the House.

Lord Randolph Churchill married, in June 1874, Jennie Jerome, daughter of Leonard Jerome, of New York in the United States, by whom he had two sons, including Winston Churchill.

The Fourth Party

It was not until 1878 that he came to public notice as the exponent of a species of independent Conservatism. He made a series of furious attacks on Sir Stafford Northcote, R. A. Cross and other prominent members of the "old gang". George Sclater-Booth (afterwards 1st Baron Basing), President of the Local Government Board, was a specific target, and the minister's County Government Bill was fiercely denounced as the "crowning dishonour to Tory principles", and the "supreme violation of political honesty". Lord Randolph's attitude, and the vituperative fluency of his invective, made him a parliamentary figure of some importance before the dissolution of the 1874 parliament, though he was not as yet taken quite seriously.

Missing image
Randolph_churchill_cartoon.png
1881 caricature from Punch

In the new Parliament of 1880 he speedily began to play a more notable role. Along with Sir Henry Drummond-Wolff, Sir John Gorst and occasionally Arthur Balfour, he made himself known as the audacious opponent of the Liberal administration and the unsparing critic of the Conservative front bench. The "fourth party", as it was nicknamed, at first did little damage to the government, but awakened the opposition from its apathy; Churchill roused the Conservatives by leading resistance to Charles Bradlaugh, the member for Northampton, who, though an avowed atheist or agnostic, was prepared to take the parliamentary oath. Sir Stafford Northcote, the Conservative leader in the Lower House, was forced to take a strong line on this difficult question by the energy of the fourth party. The long controversy over Bradlaugh's seat, showed that Lord Randolph Churchill was a parliamentary champion who added to his audacity much tactical skill and shrewdness. He continued to play a conspicuous part throughout the parliament of 1880 - 1885, targeting William Ewart Gladstone as well as the Conservative front bench, some of whose members, particularly Sir Richard Cross and William Henry Smith, he singled out for attack.

From the beginning of the Egyptian imbroglio Lord Randolph was emphatically opposed to almost every step taken by the government. He declared that the suppression of Arabi Pasha's rebellion was an error, and the restoration of the khedive's authority a crime. He called Gladstone the "Moloch of Midlothian", for whom torrents of blood had been shed in Africa. He was equally severe on the domestic policy of the administration, and was particularly bitter in his criticism of the Kilmainham treaty and the rapprochement between the Gladstonians and the Parnellites.

Tory Democracy

By 1885 he had formulated the policy of progressive Conservatism which was known as "Tory democracy". He declared that the Conservatives ought to adopt, rather than oppose, popular reforms, and to challenge the claims of the Liberals to pose as champions of the masses. His views were largely accepted by the official Conservative leaders in the treatment of the Gladstonian Franchise Bill of 1884. Lord Randolph insisted that the principle of the bill should be accepted by the opposition, and that resistance should be focused on the refusal of the government to combine with it a scheme of redistribution. The prominent, and on the whole judicious and successful, part he played in the debates on these questions, still further increased his influence with the rank and file of the Conservatives in the constituencies. At the same time he was actively spreading the gospel of democratic Toryism in a series of platform campaigns. In 1883 and 1884 he invaded the Radical stronghold of Birmingham, and in the latter year took part in a Conservative garden party at Aston Manor, at which his opponents paid him the compliment of raising a serious riot. He gave constant attention to the party organization, which had fallen into considerable disorder after 1880, and was an active promoter of the Primrose League.

Office

In 1884 progressive Toryism won out. At the conference of the Central Union of Conservative Associations, Lord Randolph was nominated chairman, despite the opposition of the parliamentary leaders. A split was averted by Lord Randolph's voluntary resignation; but the episode had confirmed his title to a leading place in the Tory ranks. It was strengthened by the prominent part he played in the events immediately preceding the fall of the Liberal government in 1885; and when Hugh Childers's budget resolutions were defeated by the Conservatives, aided by about half the Parnellites, Lord Randolph Churchill's admirers were justified in proclaiming him to have been the "organizer of victory". His services were, at any rate, far too important to be refused recognition; and in Lord Salisbury's cabinet of 1885 he was made Secretary of State for India. As the price of entry he demanded that Sir Stafford Northcote be removed from the Commons, despite being the Conservative leader there. Salisbury was more than willing to concede this and Northcote went to the Lords as the Earl of Iddlesleigh.

In the autumn election of 1885 he contested Central Birmingham against John Bright, and though defeated here, was at the same time returned by a very large majority for South Paddington. In the contest which arose over Gladstone's Home Rule bill, Lord Randolph again bore a conspicuous part, and in the electioneering campaign his activity was only second to that of some of the Liberal Unionists, Lord Hartington, George Goschen and Joseph Chamberlain. He was now the recognized Conservative champion in the Lower Chamber, and when the second Salisbury administration was formed after the general election of 1886 he became Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons.

Eclipse

His management of the House was on the whole successful, and was marked by tact, discretion and temper. But he had never really reconciled himself with some of his colleagues, and there was a good deal of friction in his relations with them, which ended with his sudden resignation on 20 December 1886. Various motives influenced him in taking this surprising step; but the only ostensible cause was that put forward in his letter to Lord Salisbury, which was read in the House of Commons on 27 January. In this document he stated that his resignation was due to his inability, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, to concur in the demands made on the Treasury by the ministers at the head of the naval and military establishments. It was commonly supposed that he expected his resignation to be followed by the unconditional surrender of the cabinet, and his restoration to office on his own terms. The sequel, however, was entirely different. The cabinet was reconstructed with Goschen as Chancellor of the Exchequer (Lord Randolph had "forgotten Goschen", as he is said to have remarked), and Churchill's own career as a Conservative chief was practically closed. However for the next few years there was some speculation about a return to frontline politics, as often happens when a Cabinet minister resigns.

Although he continued to sit in Parliament, his health was in serious decline throughout the 1890's. He bestowed much attention on society, travel and sport. He was an ardent supporter of the turf, and in 1889 he won the Oaks with a mare named the Abbesse de Jouarre. In 1891 he went to South Africa, in search both of health and relaxation. He travelled for some months through Cape Colony, the Transvaal and Rhodesia, making notes on the politics and economics of the countries, shooting lions, and recording his impressions in letters to a London newspaper, which were afterwards republished under the title of Men, Mines and Animals in South Africa. He attacked Gladstone's Second Home Rule Bill with energy, but it was soon apparent that his powers were undermined by the inroads of venereal disease(syphillis), or possibly a brain tumor. As the session of 1893 wore on his speeches lost their old effectiveness, and in 1894 he was listened to not so much with interest as with pity. His last speech in the House was delivered in the debate on Uganda in June 1894, and was a painful failure. He was, in fact, dying of general paralysis. A journey round the world failed to cure him. Lord Randolph started in the autumn of 1894, accompanied by his wife, but his illness made so much progress that he was brought back hurriedly from Cairo. He reached England shortly before Christmas and died in London.

His widow, Lady Randolph Churchill, married George Cornwallis-West in 1900.


Preceded by:
The Earl of Kimberley
Secretary of State for India
1885–1886
Succeeded by:
The Earl of Kimberley
Preceded by:
Sir William Harcourt
Chancellor of the Exchequer
1886–1887
Succeeded by:
George Goschen
Preceded by:
William Gladstone
Leader of the House of Commons
1886–1887
Succeeded by:
William Henry Smith

Template:End boxde:Randolph Churchill sv:Lord Randolph Churchill

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