Historical Who is Who

BALFOUR, Arthur J

1848 - 1930
Scotland
POLITICS, PHILOSOPHY

 

Born into landed Scottish aristocracy, educated at Eton and Cambridge, and elected as a Conservative MP successively from age 26. It is likely that his social sophistication concealed his driving convictions – as evidenced in his books such as Defence of Philosophic Doubt in which he set out the importance of intellectual freedom as a guard against popular scientific dogmatism. Later in life he gave the famous Gifford Lectures on the theme of Theism and Humanism. He held a range of government positions including ones with responsibility for Scotland, for Ireland, the Treasury, and the House of Commons, becoming Prime Minister 1902 – 6 and later Foreign Secretary. He was therefore directly involved with the events of World War 1, the recognition of the legitimacy of Zionist hopes in Palestine (‘Balfour Declaration’) and support for the creation of the League of Nations.

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