Arthur Balfour was a notable politician in the United Kingdom throughout the nineteenth century. Balfour didn’t have a difficult time breaking into politics because both of his parents’ families were involved in politics. Though Arthur is best known as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, his greatest contribution was his attention to Ireland’s growth. He popularized the ideology of ‘Unionism’ in the country, as well as did everything he could to help the poor. He was a key figure in a number of agreements between the UK and other countries, including France and Russia. Arthur was also known for being a devout Christian, and one of his favorite subjects was theology. Arthur also wrote a few novels about his religious beliefs. ‘A Defense of Philosophic Doubt’ was one of these works. Balfour’s idiosyncrasies, dubbed ‘Balfourian Manner,’ were well-known among authors and journalists. Many others were also concerned about his sexual orientation. Others suggested that he was gay, despite the fact that few of them spoke of his close ties with women.
Childhood and Adolescence
In Scotland, on July 25, 1848, Arthur Balfour was born to Lady Blanche Gascoyne-Cecil and James Maitland Balfour. He was the eldest son out of his parents’ eight children. The majority of his ancestors were well-known politicians in their day. His father was also a member of Parliament.
He attended the ‘Grange Preparatory School’ in Hertfordshire for his primary education. Arthur traveled to famous colleges such as ‘Elton College,’ the ‘University of Cambridge,’ and ‘Trinity College,’ where he studied for the following eight years after graduating in 1861.
Balfour was greatly affected by his professor, the great English poet William Cory, when he was a student. Arthur was encouraged to seek a political career by Cory.
Career of Arthur Balfour
After being elected as a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) in 1874, Balfour made headlines in English politics.
Balfour was appointed as the private secretary to Lord Salisbury, his uncle, four years after being elected as a Member of Parliament. Balfour gained a lot of political clout as a result of this mission.
He went to the ‘Congress of Berlin’ with his uncle, Lord Salisbury, to discuss the ‘Russo-Turkish Conflict,’ which was a major political problem at the time. Balfour’s political outlook changed dramatically as a result of this journey.
Balfour’s duties as a private secretary were terminated in 1880. In just six years, he earned enough political clout to make friends with political heavyweights such as Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, Lord Randolph Churchill, and John Gorst. The ‘Fourth Party’ was the name given to this group of musicians.
Balfour’s career flourished throughout the second part of the decade of the 1880s. In 1885, he was named ‘President of The Local Government Board.’ A year later, he was appointed Secretary of State for Scotland, which included a seat in the cabinet.
Over the next three years, Balfour was given more duties. One of them was his appointment as Ireland’s Chief Secretary in 1887. Sir Michael Hicks Beach, a well-known politician, stepped down as Chief Secretary, and Arthur was appointed in his place.
Balfour was keenly interested in Ireland’s progress. To help the cause, he teamed up with well-known politician Joseph Chamberlain. Arthur championed ‘Unionism’ in Ireland as a method to enhance administration after becoming an associate of Joseph’s ‘Liberal Unionist Party.’ He was a founding member of the ‘Congested Districts Board For Ireland’ in 1890.
Balfour was named ‘First Lord of the Treasury’ the following year. After his party lost the 1892 elections, he was forced to resign. The Conservatives regained power three years later, and Arthur was re-elected as the ‘First Lord of the Treasury.’
Balfour assumed charge of the Foreign Office when his uncle, Lord Salisbury, was ill. During this time, he spoke with the Russian government about north China’s infrastructure.
In Arthur’s political career, 1902 was a breakthrough year. Balfour took over as Prime Minister after Lord Salisbury stood down.
One of the most serious issues that the Balfour government encountered were disagreements among party members regarding trading laws. His long-time confidante, Joseph Chamberlain, stood down from power and became a fighter for tariff reform.
Balfour’s government’s relationship with the British Royals was extremely strained, which contributed to his demise. In 1905, Balfour resigned from his position.
Balfour continued his political career as the party’s head when his term as Prime Minister ended. The ‘House of Lords,’ along with fellow British politician Lord Landsdowne, demanded that the ‘House of Commons’ be kept informed about what was going on in the ‘House of Commons.’ This decision was met with a barrage of criticism.
Balfour became the ‘First Lord of the Admiralty’ in 1915, succeeding the famed British politician Sir Winston Churchill.
Balfour was the British Empire’s envoy at the ‘Washington Naval Conference,’ which took place from 1921-22. He also served as a temporary foreign secretary in the absence of Lord Curzon, who was sick at the time.
Under the administration of Stanley Baldwin, he was given the title of ‘Lord President of the Council.’ He retained this position until 1929, when the Baldwin government came to an end.
Major Projects of Arthur Balfour
The extension of the ‘Education Act,’ as well as the enactment of the ‘Irish Land Purchase Act,’ were two of Balfour’s first priorities as Prime Minister.
Balfour worked to enhance the relationship between the United Kingdom and its neighbors.
Personal History and Legacy
Balfour lived his entire life as a bachelor. Despite the fact that Scottish socialite Margot Asquith wanted to marry him, Balfour declined the engagement, claiming that he needed to focus on his political career.
Balfour is also said to have been close to a number of ladies, including Mary Charteris and Lady Elcho. Balfour and Elcho were reportedly quite close, and the potential of a loving involvement between the two cannot be ruled out. Balfour was gay, according to a few reports.
Balfour was also known for his demeanor, which became known as the ‘Balfourian way.’ Balfour was a self-obsessed man, according to one English journalist of the time, who believed he was far better than the rest of the throng.
Balfour was a fantastic tennis player right up until the end of his life. Balfour died on March 19, 1930, at the age of 81, from cardiovascular problems. In the United Kingdom, he was cremated near Whittingehame Church.
Balfour was portrayed in two novels, ‘Clara in Blunderland’ and ‘Lost in Blunderland,’ in a hilarious light. Both works were parodies of Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece ‘Alice in Wonderland.’
Estimated Net Worth
The estimated net worth of Arthur Balfour is unknown.