Arthur Balfour

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Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, KG, OM, PC (25 July 184819 March 1930) was a British Conservative statesman and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 until 1905. The author of several influential works of philosophy, he was one of the more intellectual prime ministers of the 20th century. As Foreign Secretary he authored the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which supported the establishment of a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine.


  • The energies of our system will decay; the glory of the sun will be dimmed, and the earth, tideless and inert, will no longer tolerate the race which has for a moment disturbed its solitude. Man will go down into the pit and all his thoughts will perish.
    • The Foundations of Belief (1895).
  • His Majesty’s Government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
  • The General Strike has taught the working class more in four days than years of talking could have done.
    • Speech (May 7, 1926).
  • Biography should be written by an acute enemy.
    • Observer (London, Jan. 30, 1927).


  • From 1887 up to the end of his Premiership in 1905, he was the most skilful of all the House of Commons speakers of his day, with the exception of...Gladstone...he was a brave man—and a fearless one. In comparatively small things he shrank from conclusions and thus gave a false impression of irresolution, but on fundamental issues he never flinched or meandered. He was through and through a patriot and never lost confidence in the invincibility of his country...Clearly he was not the man to stimulate and organise the activity of the Navy in a crisis. But he was an ideal man for the Foreign Office and to assist the Cabinet on big issues. His contributions in the War and afterwards in the making of Peace were of the highest order. In personal charm he was easily first among all the statesmen with whom I came in contact. As to his intellectual gifts I doubt whether I ever met so illuminating an intelligence inside the Council Chamber.
    • David Lloyd George, War Memoirs of David Lloyd George. Volume I (London: Odhams, 1938), pp. 604-607.

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