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Thomas Babington Macaulay
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    (October 25, 1800-December 28, 1859)
    Born in Leicestershire, England, United Kingdom
    Historian and Whig politician
    Wrote ‘Lays of Ancient Rome’ (1842), ‘Critical and Historical Essays’ (1843) and ‘The History of England from the Accession of James II’ (5 volumes, 1848-59)
    Member of Parliament for Caine (1830-32), Leeds (1832-34) and Edinburgh (1839-47,1852-56)
    Served on the Supreme Council of India (1834-38)
    Served as Secretary at War (1839-41) and Paymaster General (1846-48)
    Elevated to the Peerage as Baron Macaulay (1857)
    He wrote, ‘A single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia.’
    He planned to cover English history to the end of the reign of King George III in 1820, but had barely gotten past 1700 when he died.
    His tendency to view history as a drama led him to treat people whose views he opposed as villains and those he approved of as heroes.
    He went to great lengths to absolve King William III, one of his heroes, of responsibility for the Glencoe massacre (in which 38 members of the Clan MacDonald were killed for having been insufficiently prompt in pledging their allegiance to William and Mary).
    His approach to history drew criticism from figures ranging from Karl Marx (who called him ‘a systematic falsifier of history’) to Winston Churchill (who, upset at Macauley’s portrayal of his ancestor, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, wrote a four-volume rebuttal that he hoped would ‘fasten the label ‘Liar’ to his genteel coat-tails’).
    He was a klutz who regularly cut himself while shaving.
    He became the main support for his parents and siblings after his father’s business ran into financial trouble.
    He had a photographic memory.
    He taught himself Spanish, German and Dutch.
    He drafted a penal code for India that treated Europeans and natives identically.
    He was a founding trustee of the National Portrait Gallery and was honored with a bust over the main entrance.
    Historian George Richard Potter wrote, ‘The severity and minuteness of the criticism to which the ‘History of England’ has been subjected is a measure of its permanent value…. In the long roll of English historical writing, only Gibbon has surpassed him in security of reputation and certainty of immortality.’

Credit: C. Fishel

    For 2019, as of last week, Out of 13 Votes: 100% Annoying
    In 2017, Out of 2 Votes: 50.0% Annoying
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