Evelyn Baring, 1st Earl of Cromer: Wikis

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Lord Cromer, c. 1895.

Evelyn Baring, 1st Earl of Cromer, GCB, OM, GCMG, KCSI, CIE, PC, FRS (26 February 1841 – 29 January 1917), was a British statesman, diplomat and colonial administrator.

He was British controller-general in Egypt during 1879 and later agent and consul-general in Egypt from 1883 to 1907. During this period, Egypt had just been occupied by the British after running into financial and political trouble; far from the centre of the Empire, Cromer ran the territory with great drive and his actions eventually precluded British wishes to withdraw from Egypt.

Contents

Early Life and Military Career

Baring was born in 1841, the ninth son of Henry Baring and his second wife, Cecilia Anne. The Baring family descends from Francis Baring, the founder of Barings Bank. Henry Baring died in 1848, and young Evelyn, then seven year old, was sent to boarding school. At fourteen, he entered the Royal Military Academy, graduating at seventeen with a lieutenant's commission in the Royal Artillery. He was initially posted to a battery on the island of Corfu.

While on Corfu, Baring became aware of his own lack of education, and began a campaign of self-education, learning Greek and fluent Italian. He also took a mistress, and fathered an illegitimate daughter, Louisa Sophia.[1] In 1862, he accepted a position as aide-de-camp to Sir Henry Storks, High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands. This position ended in 1864, with the union of Corfu to Greece. Later in 1864, Storks was appointed governor of Malta, again employing Baring as an aide-de-camp. The next year Baring accompanied Storks to Jamaica, where Storks headed the official inquiry into the Morant Bay rebellion. In 1868, Baring was selected to attend the Army's Staff College; he graduated in late 1869. He then worked for two years in the War Office, helping to implement post-Crimean War reforms.

Baring went to India in 1872 as private secretary to his cousin Lord Northbrook, Viceroy of India. With Northbrook's resignation in 1876, Baring returned to England. He received the C.S.I., and was promoted to major. Baring married Ethel Errington in 1876. In 1877 he retired from the army.

Baring as the British Controller-General of Egypt

The Earl of Cromer.

Ismail Pasha, Khedive of Egypt, ran up massive debts in his project to modernize the Egyptian economy. His government projects depended on money obtained from Egypt's cotton industry, which flourished during the American Civil War. Yet, after the war, as American cotton entered European markets once again, the price of cotton fell dramatically. As a result, Egypt's cotton was no longer the cash crop it used to be. Ismail Pasha found himself unable to even pay off the interest on the enormous debts he had run up on the assumption of being able to pay them back from cotton revenues.[2]

At first, Ismail attempted to call on his parliament to raise more tax money, but parliament resisted, as it made up mostly of large landowners. In desperation, Ismail turned to the European powers to help him out of his financial troubles. After some rocky negotiations the Dual Control system was instituted, whereby a French and a British controller were appointed to oversee Egypt's finances. Sir Evelyn Baring was appointed as the British Controller. Egyptian historian Al-Sayyid Marsot considers this desperate attempt on Ismail's part to obtain European help to have opened the floodgates for the British control of Egypt's finances, and eventual incorporation into their empire.[2]

As the British Controller-General, Baring was enormously successful in serving British interests in the countries. His de facto control of Egypt's finances meant he wielded considerable influence in both the Egyptian and British governments. Owning a large proportion of Egypt's debt himself, when Ismail refused to declare bankruptcy, Baring pressured his government to depose Ismail, which they did in 1879. This came with little fuss from the general populace as most of the country blamed Ismail for the country's financial struggles. Ismail was succeeded by his son Tawfiq, who fell totally under the domination of the European consuls.[2] Effectively, Baring's control of Egypt's finances combined with his influence in the British government, meant that the Egyptian government could do almost nothing without European permission.

Baring as the British Consul-General of Egypt

The Earl of Cromer by John Singer Sargent.

The Urabi Revolt, led by Ahmed Urabi, a rising Egyptian colonel, created a situation in which British and French forces could once again interfere and assert their imperial interests on behalf of the Khedive. After the subsequent intervention by the British in Alexandria, Baring was once again installed in Egypt as the Consul-General: the effective ruler of Egypt.

Baring’s first act as Consul-General was to approve of the Dufferin Report, which essentially called for a puppet parliament with no power. In addition, the report asserted the need for British supervision of reforms deemed necessary for the country. Furthermore, it stated the interests of the Suez Canal zone should always be maintained. Baring believed that, because of Egyptian administrative incompetence, a long occupation was essential to any sort of reform . Moreover, he established a new guiding principle for Egypt known as the Granville Doctrine. The doctrine enabled Baring and other British officials to dismiss Egyptian ministers who refused to accept British directives. Under Baring, British officials were positioned in key ministries and a new system, known as the Veiled Protectorate, was introduced. Essentially, the government was a façade. Egyptians ministers were the outward form, yet British officials held the actual power. Despite these measures, the Khedive, although completely subservient to the British, sanctioned the system. Along with this new system, the Egyptian army was completely dismantled forcing the Egyptian people to rely solely on the British occupation force.

The primary focus of Baring’s efforts in Egypt was to restore its financial solvency. In effect, this would provide a means of continued British control restraining other foreign powers from intervening in Egyptian affairs. Under Baring’s tutelage, the Egyptian nationalist movement showed no signs of life. In fact, many Egyptians believed in Britain’s policy of "rescue and retire." Baring argued that "'subject races' were totally incapable of self-government, that they did not really need or want self-government, and that what they really needed was a 'full belly' policy which kept it quiescent and allowed the elite to make money and so cooperate with the occupying power."

In 1906, Baring was made a Member of the Order of Merit by King Edward VII.

Baring was embroiled in controversy in both Egypt and Britain in the wake the severe punishments meted out to Egyptian peasants following the 1906 Denshawai Incident. In April 1907, he resigned office, having held the post of British agent in Egypt for twenty-four years. The official reason given for his resignation was his poor health. In July of 1907, parliament awarded him £50,000 in recognition of his "eminent services" in Egypt.

Later Years

Baring returned to Britain at the age of 66, and spent a year regaining his health. In 1908, he published, in two volumes, Modern Egypt, a narrative of events in Egypt and the Sudan since 1876. In 1910, he published Ancient and Modern Imperialism, an influential comparison of the British and Roman Empires. In 1914, World War 1 broke out. The Khedive Abbas II supported the Ottomans, and was deposed by the British. This freed Baring to publish his impressions of the Khedive, Abbas II, in 1915.

Baring was active in politics. Having been raised to the peerage as Lord Cromer in 1892, Baring was entitled to sit in the House of Lords. He joining the free-trade wing of the Unionist party. Baring was a leader of the anti-suffragette cause, serving as the president of the Men's League for Opposing Woman Suffrage in 1908, then in 1910-12, the subsequent National League for Opposing Woman Suffrage. In 1916, Baring was appointed to the Dardanelles Commission but died before the signing of the first report.

Family

His brother was Edward Baring, 1st Baron Revelstoke.

Evelyn Baring, 1st Baron Howick of Glendale was his son.

References

  1. ^ Owen, Roger. Lord Cromer: Victorian Imperialist, Edwardian Proconsul. Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK. 2004.
  2. ^ a b c Al-Sayyid Marsot, Afaf Lutfi. A History of Egypt. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK. 2007.

Bibliography

  • Cromer, Evelyn Baring, Earl of (1908). Modern Egypt, by the Earl of Cromer. New York, The Macmillan Company. ASIN B000NPPRR8. ISBN 1402183399 (2001 reprint, vol 1.) ISBN 1402178301 (vol 2.)
  • Owen, Roger (2004). Lord Cromer: Victorian Imperialist, Edwardian Proconsul. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199253382.
  • Meyer, Karl E. and Shareen Blair Brysac "Kingmakers: the Invention of the Modern Middle East." New York, London, W.W. Norton 2008. ISBN 978-0-393-06199-4

External links

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Sir Edward Malet
British Agent and Consul-General in Egypt
1883 – 1907
Succeeded by
Sir Eldon Gorst
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Earl of Cromer
1901 – 1917
Succeeded by
Rowland Baring
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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

From: "Political and Literary Essays, 1908-1913"

"At the time this hazardous prophecy was made, the huge overgrown Roman Empire was tottering to its fall. Does a similar fate await the British Empire?"

"What should be the profession of faith of a sound but reasonable Imperialist? He will not be possessed with any secret desire to see the whole of Africa or of Asia painted red on the maps. He will entertain not only a moral dislike, but also a political mistrust of that excessive earth-hunger, which views with jealous eyes the extension of other and neighbouring European nations. He will have no fear of competition. He will believe that, in the treatment of subject races, the methods of government practised by England, though sometimes open to legitimate criticism, are superior, morally and economically, to those of any other foreign nation; and that, strong in the possession and maintenance of those methods, we shall be able to hold our own against all competitors."

"An Imperial policy must, of course, be carried out with reasonable prudence, and the principles of government which guide our relations with whatsoever races are brought under our control must be politically and economically sound and morally defensible."

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