Benjamin Disraeli

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The Right Honourable
The Earl of Beaconsfield

KG PC FRS
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
20 February 1874 – 21 April 1880
Monarch Victoria
Preceded by William Ewart Gladstone
Succeeded by William Ewart Gladstone
In office
27 February 1868 – 1 December 1868
Monarch Victoria
Preceded by The Earl of Derby
Succeeded by William Ewart Gladstone
Leader of the Opposition
In office
1 December 1868 – 17 February 1874
Monarch Victoria
Preceded by William Ewart Gladstone
Succeeded by William Ewart Gladstone
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
6 July 1866 – 29 February 1868
Preceded by William Ewart Gladstone
Succeeded by George Ward Hunt
In office
26 February 1858 – 11 June 1859
Preceded by Sir George Cornewall Lewis, Bt.
Succeeded by William Ewart Gladstone
In office
27 February 1852 – 17 December 1852
Preceded by Charles Wood
Succeeded by William Ewart Gladstone
Personal details
Born 21 December 1804(1804-12-21)
London, United Kingdom
Died 19 April 1881(1881-04-19) (aged 76)
London
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Mary Anne Lewis
Religion Church of England (for most of his life)

Judaism (until age 12)

Signature Cursive signature in ink

Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield (21 December 1804–19 April 1881), born Benjamin D'Israeli, was a British politician. He was Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1852, from 1858–1859 and from 1866–1868 He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1868 and from 1874–1880. His mainopponent was William Ewart Gladstone. Disraeli was also a novelist and biographer.

Disraeli was born into a Jewish family which converted to Anglicanism. He is the only Prime Minister of Jewish heritage in British history.[1] He followed his father, and converted to Anglicanism at the age of 12.

Political ideas[change | change source]

Disraeli invented the idea of "One Nation" conservatism, designed to appeal to all ranks in society.[2] This is conservatism that values paternalism and pragmatism. Paternalism means looking after people, and pragmatism means it was practical not ideological. Disraeli wanted it to appeal to working class men as a solution to worsening divisions in society. This idea was opposed to the Liberals (or "Whigs"), which was the party of the urban elite (moneyed and well-educated people in towns and cities).

Disraeli made the Conservatives the party that supported the British Empire and the military action to go with it. This was partly in reaction to Gladstone, who disliked the expense of empire, and partly because Disraeli knew it would be popular.

As well as Disraeli's One Nation idea, the Tories were also the party of the Church of England and most of the aristocracy. They were supported by the "Young England" group. This Victorian era political group was born on the playing fields of Cambridge University and Eton College. It was a group of Tory aristocrats who had attended public school together.

Balancing such widely different groups ("constituencies") is a problem faced by almost all political leaders. Lord John Manners in 1843, at the time of Young England, wrote "could I only satisfy myself that D'Israeli believed all that he said, I should be more happy: his historical views are quite mine, but does he believe them?"[3]

References[change | change source]

  1. "Benjamin Disraeli | Number10.gov.uk". number10.gov.uk. 2011 [last update]. http://www.number10.gov.uk/history-and-tour/prime-ministers-in-history/benjamin-disraeli. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
  2. One-nation conservatism is also known as one-nationism, or Tory democracy
  3. Smith, Paul. 1987. Disraeli's Politics, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Fifth Series, 37, pp. 65–66

Other websites[change | change source]