- NAME: W.E. Gladstone
- OCCUPATION: Prime Minister
- BIRTH DATE: December 29, 1809
- DEATH DATE: May 19, 1898
- Did You Know?: All four of W.E. Gladstone's terms as prime minister were under Queen Victoria. She disliked having to work with him and was relieved when his last term came to an end.
- EDUCATION: Eton College, University of Oxford, Christ Church
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Liverpool, England, United Kingdom
- PLACE OF DEATH: Hawarden Castle, Flintshire, Wales, United Kingdom
- Full Name: William Ewart Gladstone
- AKA: William E. Gladstone
- AKA: William Gladstone
- AKA: W.E. Gladstone
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W.E. Gladstone was a British statesman and four-time prime minister of the United Kingdom (1868–74, 1880–85, 1886, 1892–94).
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Born in 1809, W.E. Gladstone was first elected to Parliament in 1832. After serving in different government posts, including as chancellor of the exchequer, he became prime minister in 1868; he would serve four terms in the office (1868–74, 1880–85, 1886, 1892–94). Gladstone's accomplishments included expanding the vote and reforms in Ireland. He died in 1898, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
"You cannot fight against the future. Time is on our side."
"All the world over, I will back the masses against the classes."
"My mission is to pacify Ireland."
"He has not a single redeeming defect."
Born on December 29, 1809, in Liverpool, England—though he was of Scottish descent—William Ewart Gladstone, who was also known as W.E. Gladstone and William Gladstone, was the fifth of six children. He studied at Eton and Oxford; at the latter he was a debater, a skill he would hone during his political career. Despite his personal inclinations, Gladstone heeded his father's wishes and did not pursue a career in the church.
Gladstone was first elected to Parliament in 1832, when he was 23 years old. A member of the Tory party, he held junior government positions before joining Robert Peel's Conservative cabinet in 1843. With Peel, Gladstone became a Liberal-Conservative following a Tory party split in 1846.
In 1852, Gladstone became chancellor of the exchequer, an office he would hold until 1855. He reclaimed the chancellorship from 1859 to 1866. As chancellor, Gladstone's budgets featured a balancing of expenditures and tariff reductions.
Having been a "Peelite" since the Conservatives broke apart, Gladstone joined the Liberals in 1859. He became head of that party in 1867.
When the Liberals won the election of 1868, Gladstone became prime minister. While in government, he disestablished Ireland's Protestant church and worked to grant Irish tenant farmers more rights vis-à-vis English landowners. His government also set up a national elementary education program, outlawed the purchase of military commissions and instituted secret ballots. While prime minister, Gladstone took over as chancellor once more in 1873.
When his party was defeated in the 1874 elections, Gladstone resigned as leader. However, he stepped back into the spotlight to oppose a lack of government action with regards to Turkish massacres in the Balkans. Amid a Liberal electoral triumph in 1880, Gladstone won a parliamentary seat in Scotland (he had previously represented Newark, Oxford University, South Lancashire and Greenwich). He retook the prime minister's office, while again becoming chancellor of the exchequer.
With Gladstone in office, another Irish Land Act—with more protections for peasants—was instituted in 1881. In 1884, the vote was expanded to a greater number of men. However, imperial misadventures in Sudan, and the death of a general there, hurt Gladstone's standing. When the government's budget was rejected in 1885, he resigned. Queen Victoria offered him an earldom, but Gladstone declined the honor.
The following year, 1886, Gladstone became prime minister for a third time. It would be a brief term, as his home rule bill for Ireland was defeated and the Liberals lost at the polls in July 1886. During his time in opposition, Gladstone campaigned to win approval for home rule in Ireland.
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