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The Right Honourable
 Edwin Samuel Montagu 
PC

Edwin Montagu (left) Secretary of State for India, shown in the 1910s.

In office
17 July 1917 – 19 March 1922
Monarch George V
Prime Minister David Lloyd George
Preceded by Austen Chamberlain
Succeeded by The Viscount Peel

Born 6 February 1879 (1879-02-06)
Died 15 November 1924 (1924-11-16)
Nationality British
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Venetia Stanley
(1887-1948)
Alma mater University College London
Trinity College, Cambridge

Edwin Samuel Montagu PC (6 February 1879 – 15 November 1924) was a British-Jewish Liberal politician. He notably served as Secretary of State for India between 1917 and 1922.

Contents

Background and education

Montagu was the second son and seventh child of Samuel Montagu, 1st Baron Swaythling, by his wife Ellen, daughter of Louis Cohen. He was educated at Clifton College, the City of London School, University College London and Trinity College, Cambridge.[1]

Political career

Montagu was elected Member of Parliament for Chesterton in 1906, a seat he held until 1918, and then represented Cambridgeshire until 1922. He served under H. H. Asquith as Under-Secretary of State for India from 1910 to 1914, as Financial Secretary to the Treasury from 1914 to 1915 and again from 1915 to 1916 and as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (with a seat in the cabinet) in 1915 and 1916. In 1915 he was sworn of the Privy Council. In 1916 he was promoted to Minister of Munitions. He was initially left out of David Lloyd George's coalition government, but in 1917 he was appointed Secretary of State for India, which he remained until March 1922, when he resigned. He was primarily responsible for the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms which led to the Government of India Act 1919 which committed the British to the eventual evolution of India to dominion status.

Montagu led the Indian delegation at the Paris Peace Conference, where he opposed plans for dividing Turkey (including the Greek occupation of Smyrna and the projected removal of the Sultan from Constantinople). On this subject, at the Council of Four on 17 May 1919, he introduced representatives of Muslim India (including the Aga Khan) and urged that Muslim peoples were beginning to see the Conference as "taking sides against Islam".[2]

Zionism

Cartoon in Punch magazine 14 July 1920, on the occasion of Montagu labelling as "frightful" General Dyer for his role in the Amritsar massacre, as it was then known.

Montagu was the second Jew to enter the British Cabinet. However, he was strongly opposed to Zionism, which he called "a mischievous political creed", and opposed the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which he considered "anti-semitic" and whose terms he managed to modify. In a memo to the cabinet, he outlined his views on Zionism thus: "...I assume that it means that Mahommedans and Christians are to make way for the Jews and that the Jews should be put in all positions of preference and should be peculiarly associated with Palestine in the same way that England is with the English or France with the French, that Turks and other Mahommedans in Palestine will be regarded as foreigners, just in the same way as Jews will hereafter be treated as foreigners in every country but Palestine. Perhaps also citizenship must be granted only as a result of a religious test."[3] He was opposed by his cousin Herbert Samuel, a moderate Zionist who became the first High Commissioner of Palestine.

Family

Montagu married the Hon. Venetia Stanley, daughter of Edward Stanley, 4th Baron Stanley of Alderley, in 1915. She converted to Judaism upon her marriage. They had one daughter, Judith. Montagu died in November 1924 at the age of 45. His wife died in August 1948, aged 60.

References

  1. ^ Montagu, Edwin Samuel in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.
  2. ^ The Deliberations of the Council of Four: notes of the official interpreter Paul Mantoux tr. A. S. Link (Princeton, 1992) vol. 2 p. 99.
  3. ^ Montagu, Edwin (1917-08-23). "Memorandum of Edwin Montagu on the Anti-Semitism of the Present (British) Government". http://www.zionism-israel.com/hdoc/Montagu_balfour.htm. Retrieved 2007-08-29.  

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Walter Raymond Greene
Member of Parliament for Chesterton
1906–1918
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Cambridgeshire
1918–1922
Succeeded by
Harold William Stannus Gray
Political offices
Preceded by
The Master of Elibank
Under-Secretary of State for India
1910–1914
Succeeded by
Charles Henry Roberts
Preceded by
Charles Masterman
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
1914–1915
Succeeded by
Francis Dyke Acland
Preceded by
Charles Masterman
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
1915
Succeeded by
Winston Churchill
Preceded by
Francis Dyke Acland
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
1915–1916
Succeeded by
Thomas McKinnon Wood
Preceded by
Herbert Samuel
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
1916
Succeeded by
Thomas McKinnon Wood
Preceded by
David Lloyd George
Minister of Munitions
1916
Succeeded by
Christopher Addison
Preceded by
Austen Chamberlain
Secretary of State for India
1917–1922
Succeeded by
The Viscount Peel
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