Temple, Henry John (Palmerston)
Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, KG, GCB, PC (20 October 1784 - 18 October 1865), known popularly as Lord Palmerston, was a British statesman who served twice as Prime Minister in the mid-19th century. Autograph Slip Signed, n.d. - 2 3/4 x 1 1/2 Leaf: signed in blk ink with dark and rich "age-toning" on old English fine wove parchment overall, fine condition.
Popularly nicknamed “Pam”, or "The Mongoose", he was in government office almost continuously from 1807 until his death in 1865, beginning his parliamentary career as a Tory and concluding it as a Liberal.
He is best remembered for his direction of British foreign policy through a period when Britain was at the height of its power, serving terms as both Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister. Some of his aggressive actions, now sometimes termed liberal interventionist, were greatly controversial at the time, and remain so today. He was the most recent British Prime Minister to die in office.
Henry John Temple was born in his family’s Westminster house to the Irish branch of the Temple family on 20 October 1784.
Henry was to become the 3rd Viscount Palmerston. His family derived their title from the Peerage of Ireland. His father was Henry Temple, 2nd Viscount Palmerston (1739–1802), and his mother Mary (1752–1805), daughter of Benjamin Mee, a London merchant.
From 1792 to 1794, the young future Lord Palmerston accompanied his family on a Continental tour of France, Switzerland, Italy, Hanover and the Netherlands.
Whilst in Italy Palmerston acquired an Italian tutor, Signor Gaetano, who taught him to speak and write fluent Italian.
In February 1806 Palmerston was defeated in the election for the University of Cambridge constituency.
In November he was elected for Horsham but was unseated in January 1807, when the Whig majority in the Commons voted for a petition to unseat him.
Palmerston's speech was so successful that Perceval, who formed his government in 1809, asked him to become Chancellor of the Exchequer, then a less important office than it was to become from the mid nineteenth century. Palmerston preferred the office of Secretary at War, charged exclusively with the financial business of the army. Without a seat in the cabinet, he remained in the latter post for 20 years.
Palmerston was a great orator. His language was relatively unstudied and his delivery somewhat embarrassed, but he generally found words to say the right thing at the right time and to address the House of Commons in the language best adapted to the capacity and the temper of his audience.
An attempt was made by the Duke of Wellington in September 1830 to induce Palmerston to re-enter the cabinet, but he refused to do so without Lord Lansdowne and Lord Grey, two notable Whigs. This can be said to be the point in 1830, when his party allegiance changed.
The revolutions of 1848 spread like a conflagration through Europe, and shook every throne on the Continent except those of Russia, Spain, and Belgium. Palmerston sympathised openly with the revolutionary party abroad. In particular, he was a strong advocate of national self-determination, and stood firmly on the side of constitutional liberties on the Continent. Despite this, he was bitterly opposed to Irish independence, being very opposed to the Young Ireland movement.
Palmerston's exile from his traditional realm of the Foreign Office meant he did not have full control over British policy during the events precipitating the Crimean War. One of his biographers, Jasper Ridley, argues that had he been in control of foreign policy at this time, war in the Crimea would have been avoided.
Palmerston argued in Cabinet, after Russian troops concentrated on the Ottoman border in February 1853, that the Royal Navy should join the French fleet in the Dardanelles as a warning to Russia. He was overruled, however.
Although both Palmerston and William Gladstone treated each other as gentleman, they disagreed fundamentally over Church appointments, foreign affairs, defence and reform. How to handle his Chancellor of the Exchequer was Palmerston's greatest problem during his last premiership. The MP Sir William Gregory was told by a member of the Cabinet that "at the beginning of each session and after each holiday, Mr Gladstone used to come in charged to the muzzle with all sorts of schemes of all sorts of reforms which were absolutely necessary in his opinion to be immediately undertaken. Palmerston used to look fixedly at the paper before him, saying nothing until there was a lull in Gladstone's outpouring. He then rapped the table and said cheerfully: “Now, my Lords and gentlemen, let us go to business”.
Palmerston told Lord Shaftesbury: "Gladstone will soon have it all his own way and whenever he gets my place we shall have strange doings". He told another friend that he thought Gladstone would wreck the Liberal Party and end up in a madhouse.