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Austen Chamberlain
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    (October 16, 1863-March 17, 1937)
    Born in Birmingham, England, United Kingdom
    Birth name was Joseph Austen Chamberlain
    Half-brother of Prime Minster Neville Chamberlain
    Member of Parliament for East Worcestershire (1892-1914) and Birmingham West (1914-37)
    Leader of the Conservative Party (1921-22)
    Held the cabinet posts Postmaster General (1902-03), Chancellor of the Exchequer (1903-05,1919-21), Secretary of State for India (1915-17), Minister without Portfolio (1918-19) and Foreign Secretary (1924-29)
    Won the Nobel Peace Prize (1925) for negotiating the Locarno Pact in which France and Great Britain guaranteed Germany’s Western borders and the three nations agreed to settle all differences among themselves by arbitration
    The Locarno Pact, much like the Kellogg-Briand Pact renouncing war, was one of those treaties that looked nice on paper but was proven completely worthless by World War II.
    The praise for the Locarno Pact went to his head and he became convinced he was the only person in the British government capable of settling disputes though diplomacy.
    He insisted on attending League of Nation meetings, even though that was the duty of another official, Lord Robert Cecil.
    He negotiated a disarmament treaty with France, then announced it in Parliament before getting the approval of the rest of the Cabinet (1928).
    When Arthur Balfour was asked why Chamberlain, despite his long service and many high offices, never became Prime Minister, he replied, ‘Don’t you think it is because he is a bore?’
    His maiden speech in Parliament was hailed by Prime Minster William Gladstone as ‘one of the best speeches which has been made,’ even though Chamberlain was speaking out against Gladstone’s bill.
    As post-WWI Chancellor of the Exchequer, he paid of Britain’s war debts while maintaining a stable currency and strengthening the nation’s credit.
    He failed to become Prime Minister largely because he refused to withdraw his support from David Lloyd-George’s coalition government, prompting a rebellion in the Conservative ranks that replaced him as party leader with Andrew Bonar Law.
    Anthony Eden said he was ‘incapable of a mean action and conscientious to a fault.’
    Unlike Neville, he recognized Hitler as a threat from the start and called for rearmament soon after the Fuhrer gained power.

Credit: C. Fishel

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