Edward Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax

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Edward Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax

Edward Frederick Lindley Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax (16 April 188123 December 1959), known as The Lord Irwin from 1925 until 1934 and as The Viscount Halifax from 1934 until 1944, was a British Conservative politician. He is often regarded as one of the architects of appeasement prior to World War II. During the period he held several ministerial posts in the cabinet, most notably as Foreign Secretary at the time of Munich in 1938. He succeeded Lord Reading as Viceroy of India in April 1926, a post he held until 1931.


  • Instead of deluding public opinion with a notion that a sufficient application of force will provide a remedy, a wiser course would be to set about taking such steps as may be the means of recovering that consent without which society in Ireland cannot exist...[an offer should be made to the Irish] conceived on the most generous lines.
    • Speech in Parliament on the Irish insurgency after the Great War. Quoted in Lord Birkenhead, Halifax (Hamish Hamilton, 1965), pp. 121-2.
  • In the name of Indian national life, in the name of religion, I appeal to all in each of the two countries who hold position...let them begin each in their own community to work untiringly towards this end: boldly to repudiate feelings of hatred and intolerance, actively to condemn and suppress acts of violence and aggression, earnestly to strive to exorcise suspicions...I appeal in the name of national life because communal tension is eating into it as a canker...I appeal in the name of religion because I can appeal to nothing nobler, and because religion is the language of the soul, and it is a change of soul that India needs today.
    • Speech as Viceroy of India, 1926. Quoted in Birkenhead, pp. 223-4.
  • Though I am, as you know, a pacifist by nature, I am not disposed to go to all lengths to meet people who seem to be behaving with utter unreason.
    • Letter to William Wedgwood Benn, quoted in Birkenhead, p. 275.
  • [It is] a question of personal appeal and conviction, rather than any argument. The cards I fancy are sympathy, understanding of his hopes, suspicions and disappointments, but above all, striving to convey to him, through what one says, a real echo of the sincerity that pervaded your doings in London.
    • Letter of 16 February, 1931. Quoted in Birkenhead, p. 296.
  • [The Hore-Laval proposals] were not so frightfully different from those put forward by the Committee of Five. But the latter were of respectable parentage: and the Paris ones were too much like the off-the-stage arrangements of nineteenth-century diplomacy.
    • In 1935. Quoted in Keith Feiling, A Life of Neville Chamberlain (Macmillan, 1970), p. 275.
  • Nothing was more likely to aggravate the difficulties of the present situation than any suggestions that our ultimate objective was to unite France, Italy and ourselves against Germany.
    • To the Cabinet (15 March, 1938).


  • To history, until yesterday, Halifax was the arch-appeaser. This, it is now recognised, was a mistake. His rôle, however, was complicated. In these pages he is not the man who stopped the rot, but the embodiment of Conservative wisdom who decided that Hitler must be obstructed because Labour could not otherwise be resisted.
    • Maurice Cowling, The Impact of Hitler. British Politics and British Policy, 1933-1940 (University of Chicago, 1977), p. 9.

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