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The public career of Lord Reading

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A Thesis
Presented to
the Faculty of the Department of History
University of Southern California
In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree
Master of Arts
Allan Summers
February 1940
UMI Number: EP59470
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UMI EP59470
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T h i s thesis , w r i t t e n hy
,3 ^
u n d e r the d i r e c t io n o f h - . l s F a c u l t y C o m m i t t e e ,
a n d a p p r o v e d h y a l l it s m e m b e r s , has been
presented to a nd accepted by the C o u n c i l on
G r a d u a t e S t u d y a n d Research in p a r t i a l f u l f i l l ­
m ent o f the re q u ire m e n ts f o r the degree o f
Faculty Committee
The purpose of this work is to show how a man with
great ability, regardless of his status at birth, can reach
the highest position in the British Government.
Also, once
he has proven himself capable of solving complicated prob­
lems, the government is prompt to utilize his abilities to
master the most difficult tasks.
Lord Reading attained the
pinnacle of success, beginning his career as a member of
Parliament and working his way up the ladder until he ac­
quired the vice-royalty of India.
In gathering data for this study no difficulties
were encountered.
The few published works consulted were
of the greatest importance, for they handled in a thoroughly
comprehensive and accurate manner the special subjects of
which they treat.
Of great importance has been the material
derived from primary sources, and it is upon such data that
most emphasis has been placed.
Among these sources may be
cited: British Information Pamphlets, Committee Reports,
and the London Times.
’ 'I wish to express my obligations to those who have,
aided me in the preparation of this work.
indebted to Dr. Gilbert G. Benjamin.
study was begun.
I feel especially
Under his direction my
Besides Dr. Benjamin, I wish to thank
Dr. Carlton C. Rodee and Dr. Walter T. Wallbank for reading
and eritizing the thesis.
Nor can I fail to mention the
many courtesies shown me at the Edward Doheny Jr. Memorial
Library where the material related to my subject was placed
at my disposal.
University of Southern California
February, 1940
Allan Summers
Educational background
Lust for adventure.......................
Man of affairs...........................
His a p p o i n t m e n t .........................
Services during tbe w a r ..................
Object of his m i s s i o n ....................
Activities in America
Background . . .
Native discontent
Accepting responsibilities ............
National Congress' . . . . . . . . . . .
. .
Coping with the problems...........
Field of finance . . .
Welfare w o r k .............................
Last y e a r s ............ ...................
Rufus Daniel Isaacs was born in London on October 10
He was the second son of "'Mr. Joseph Michael Isaacs,
a fruit importer, who carried on an old established busi­
ness with his brother, Sir Henry Isaacs, Lord Mayor of
London, 1889-1890.-*At an early age Rufus was sent to a Jewish prepara­
tory school where he did not respond effectively in numbers
He had, however, great vitality and inexhaustible taste- for
These combined traits soon led to his expulsion
from the school.
He was then sent to school in Brussels.
Here a wel­
come improvement was early indicated by his winning of the
prix de memo ire in his first term.2
This was the first in­
stance wherein he showed his astonishing power of memory, a
faculty which was to be among his chief assets at the bar.
Rufus received his secondary education in England.
At the age of thirteen, in 1873, he entered the University
College School in London.
His career in this school was
short and, scholastically speaking, undistinguished.
-*- The London Times, December 31, 1935.
2 Walker-Smith, Lord Reading and His Cases, p. 11.
was soon withdrawn from University College School to pursue
his studies at Hanover where, besides learning the foreign
languages, he made himself familiar with the methods of
foreign merchants.
School life, however, was not to his liking, and for
a time he went to sea, serving as a ship’s boy on a tramp
He became a ship’s boy because he was from boyhood
of an adventurous spirit, and not because of economic pres­
His ship was bound for South America where it found
a cargo awaiting transport to India.
This adventure over, he went for a short time to
Magdeburg to look after the interest of the family business
in Germany, but his zest for adventure was still strong.
He therefore joined the Stock Exchange which seemed to him
a more exciting proposition than business.
At the Stock Exchange he was very industrious, for he
was beginning to feel the urge of ambition.
However, in 1884
misfortune overtook the firm with which he was associated,
and he found himself unable-to meet his obligations.
of course, meant disaster.
This experience, nevertheless,
t _
was not entirely futile, for the knowledge that-he had
gained of the workings of that vast financial machine was to
be invaluable to him and to his country many years later.
3 Ibid*, p. 10.
He now decided to go to America, the land of oppor­
tunity, and start life anew.
Because of the pleas of his
mother who urged him not to cut himself off from the family,
his country, and friends, Rufus agreed to remain in England
on condition that his parents provide him with the means to
study law.
His mother was convinced that if his desire was to go
to the Bar, that was the proper field for his talents; and
she promised him that his parents would assist him to that
At this point he met Miss Alice Cohen, the daughter of
an American merchant who had moved to London.
She insisted
that he was fitted for the law profession and should study
for it.
She succeeded in stimulating his ambition.4
1887 he passed the Bar, and in the same year he married Miss
In starting his career at the Bar, Rufus Isaacs made
a rule to go to bed every night at nine, so that he might
get up at,, four,.
When he retired at this hour, he had. his ,
briefs for the next day with him, 'but he knew nothing of
what was in them.
After his seven hours of sleep he rose
at four, winter and summer, dressed, shaved, and sat down
to master the papers.^
At eight he had breakfasted, and a
4 The Outlook. 127:664, April 27, 1921.
® C. J. C. Street, Lord Reading, p. 20.
little after nine he his office, ready for consulta­
tion with his clerk as to the immediate future program.
would then march off with the facts and details of the morn­
ing1s. cases so clear in his head that he never looked at the
papers in the court.
At the age of twenty-seven, Rufus Isaacs already had
made numerous friends.
His odd training had given him an
experience of men and things which few of his contemporaries
he had good looks, high spirits, and an
easy and attractive manner.
His style of speaking was
forensic, lucid, and persuasive.
He was very skillful in
picking out the features in a case which were significant
and driving them home with great power of argument.®
characteristics greatly contributed to his success.
Rufus. Isaacs had early settled in his mind that com­
mercial cases were the proper sphere for him.
attached himself to a commerical court.
He therefore
Work came to him
at once, and within two or three years he had acquired a
substantial practice in Stock Exchange cases..?
He had a
good working knowledge of legal principles, and his quick­
ness enabled him to cope at short notice with complicated
6 Walker-Smith, pp. pit., p. 3.
7 London Times, loc. pit.
The first ease which brought him prominently into the
public eye was the prosecution of the financier, Whitaker
Wright, in 1904, when having to thread his way through a
story of baffling complications, his memory for facts and
figures astonished everybody.
The years following saw a
steady advance; from now he was engaged in case after case
of increasing importance.
jurists, and clients.
phere seemed to change.
He was sedative to judges,
When he came into court, the atmos­
Irritations were appeased and
black looks vanished.
At the age of thirty-seven, Kufus Isaacs became
Queen's Counsel.
He took the silk partly as a rest cure.
He had established such a leadership as a junior in the
Commercial Court that he simply could not cope with the
number of his cases.8
Everybody wanted to employ him.
a measure he hoped that when he did take the silk he would
have more time to himself.
In England accepting the office of.Queen’s Councel
is often considered as a backward and not a forward stop,
for it is usually a cause of
Yet Isaacs
was perhaps the only outstanding junior at the Bar whose in­
come did not drop a cent from the day he became a Queen’s
His income was around $150,000 a year and often
8 Street, op. c i t ., p. 25
Isaacs was chiefly a' conciliator; he would advise a
settlement where another man might have said, "Fight*”
attitude appealed to commercial men who-came to the Commer­
cial Court expecting intelligent comprehension and practi­
cal solutions to their problems.
Isaacs was one of a very few specialists in the law
profession to make a great social success.
Society found
that the famous lawyer was a delightful person, simple and
always ready to joke, particularly about himself.
In 1904 Rufus Isaacs had won a seat in Parliament at
the by-election in Reading.
He took not only his Parlia­
mentary duties seriously, but also his duties to his consti­
Although Isaacs was successful in entering Parlia­
ment in 1904, it was not until 1906, when the Liberal Party
came into power, that his talents found opportunity for full
The Liberal Party stood for free trade, social reforms,
and to the Irish they were prepared to give, if not complete
rule, at*least preliminaries to it.
During the regular
election in 1906, Isaacs sought to retain his seat in Parlia­
He ran on the Liberal ticket and actively participated
in the campaign advocating the Liberal policies.
9 itid.> P* 39.
In his election address of January, 1906, issued to
the electors of Reading, he declared that in foreign affairs
he would abstain from any aggressive or adventurous policy.
He believed that any measure of protection would have the
effect of' making the rich richer and the poor poorer.10
The army should be brought to a thorough state of efficiency
and the volunteer forces should be fostered.
The Irish
should be given gradual control of such domestic affairs as
concerned them alone.
He was in favor of amending the exist
ing acts relative to education, licensing, and trade unions,
and was willing to support any sound schemes for providing
work for the unemployed.
He was in favor of reforms in
matters of housing, the conduct of elections, the registra­
tion of voters, and the taxation of land values.
He often spoke in Parliament and managed to gain the
attention of his colleagues, but he was never successful in
impressing Parliament as he did the court.H Yet beneath
the surface, among the high officials of government, the
value of his opinion and of his Judgment.^was fully known,
and appreciated.!^
In the legal sphere particular reforms were intro­
duced which he had advocated.
He strongly urged the es-
10 iM.a., p. 63.
11 London Times, loc. cit.
Street, o£. cut., p. 65.
tablishment of a Court of Criminal Appeal.
To his efforts
are due the succession of rulings which.established the
principle that the court should act as a true court of re­
vision, and not merely as a confirming authority,
in his
view the court should be competent to upset verdicts and
reduce sentences.
Many reforms proposed by the Liberals were defeated
by the House of Lords.
Many Liberals, among them Rufus
Isaacs, felt that so long as the House of Lords retains
its existing powers, no Liberal measure would have a chance
to become a-law.
In 1909 Mr. Lloyd George, then Chancellor
of the Exchequer, introduced a revolutionary proposal.
Estate, legacy, and succession duties were all enormously
increased, and a highly elaborate system of taxation of
land values was introduced.
These measures were intended
against the members of the House of Lords, who were mostly
land owners.
The budget proposed was, therefore, a direct
challenge to the Conservative Party and to the House of
In the election of 1910, the issue before the country
was not so much the passing of the budget itself as to clip
the wings of the House of Lords.
On January 1, 1910, Lloyd
George himself addressed a crowded meeting called at Read­
ing and urged the electors of Reading to reelect Rufus
Isaacs to Parliament.13
13 Ibid., p. 77.
Isaacs was a firm believer in the
official Liberal policy, especially as regards to the
abolition of the Lords* veto.
In this campaign, however, he
confined himself to the question of tariff reform versus
free trade.
He was reelected with little opposition.
After this election the Parliament Bill, 1910, was
introduced in the Parliament.
It provided: (1) that the
House of Lords be disabled by law from rejecting or amend­
ing a money bill; (£) that any other bill that passed three
times the House of Commons becomes a law without the consent
of the House of Lords; (3) that duration of Parliament was
limited to five years.
Isaacs supported strongly the
Liberals in this bill.
He' maintained the Lords* right of
veto must be abolished as regards all matters of finance,
and within certain limits regarding other legislation.
On March 7, 1910, an official announcement was made
that the King had been pleased to confer the honor of Knight­
hood upon Rufus Isaacs, K.C., M.P. , Solicitor-General.
October of-the same year Sir Rufus had exchanged the office
of Solicitor-General for that of Attorney-General, and he
was now the principal Law Officer of the Court.
Even as
Attorney-General he continued fighting for free trade and
for the policies of his party.
On October 6 he addressed
the electors of the city of London, the stronghold of con­
servatism, expounding to them Liberal doctrines.
This was
considered a very bold endeavour on his part.^Here he
pointed out that London stood in an entirely different posi­
tion from most of the great cities of the world.
He showed
how London depended upon her credit machinery and her
enormous shipping trade which she possessed as the greatest
port in the world.
He explained how her credit system in
itself was a national asset, and her shipping trade gave
her employment, directly and indirectly, to a large section
of the community; and that tariff reform meant the restric­
tion of imports, which in turn would mean a decrease of
shipping and of credit facilities.
The Parliament Act was finally passed in July, 1911,
by the House of Lords only after King George V threatened
to create enough peers to override the Lords* veto.
Parliament Act was the dominating issue of the years from
1910 until Rufus Isaacs* Parliamentary career closed with
his elevation to the post of Lord' Chief Justice in 1913.
The crisis of this issue reached its most acute stage in
June, 1911.
The Liberal government at this time was engaged
in legislation which affected the very foundations of the
It required the skill of the best brains at
their disposal to direct their policy from day to day, and
in this arduous duty the Attorney-General played a promin-
London Times, October 6 , 1910*
ent part.
Mr. Asquith, the Prime Minister, feeling the need
for the most able advice at. his disposal, assigned to Rufus
Isaacs, the Attorney-G-eneral, a seat in the Cabinet.
was the first time in the history of .England that such an
honor had been conferred Upon a Law Officer of the Crown.
Luring his Parliamentary career, he had fought two
general elections with unfailing skill, yet without stoop­
ing to the vulgar abuse employed by his colleagues in wag­
ing their campaign against the House of Lords.
He had re­
fused to be carried away by the excitement of the moment,
and his appeal for election had been based upon the princi­
ples of pure Liberalism.
He was careful not to identify the .
policies of the Liberals with that of Labor, as many of his
colleagues did.
Liberalism was to him a definite political
creed, separate and apart from those professed by all other
parties, and as such it was worth upholding for its own
The struggle over the Parliament Act had created a
state of intense bitterness and tension.
During the whole
of the period from 1910 onward, vague reports had been cur­
rent which tended to throw discredit upon the Liberal
In the midst of this over-heated political at­
mosphere an event occurred which was eagerly seized upon
Street, op. cit., p. 92.
by the opponents, who had been watching for an opportunity
of attacking the Liberals, and which at one time threatened
to bring eternal discredit upon more than one innocent
Commendatore Marconi and Mr. Godfrey Isaacs happen­
ing to be in New York upon some legal business connected
with the American Marconi Company, the occasion was taken
advantage of to give a banquet in their honor.
On the day
of the banquet Sir Rufus had sent a wireless message in
which the following words occurred: ftPlease congratulate
Signer Marconi and my brother on the successful development
of a marvelous enterprise.
I wish them all success in New
This telegram was used as a means to deride the
Major Archer-Shee, Conservative leader,
contended that it was a great mistake and most injudicious
proceeding on the part of a Cabinet member to send such a
message for the purpose of booming the American Marconi
Another accusation brought against Sir Rufus was at
the time when the agreement between the government and the
British Marconi Company, of which Mr. Godfrey Isaacs was
chairman, providing for the establishment of a number of
16 Street,
. cit.,
p. 99.
wireless stations in various parts of- the Empire, was only
awaiting the approval of the House of'Commons.
Sir Rufus
Isaacs subscribed for a considerable block of shares in a new,
issue of the American Marconi Company, and part of the shares
were passed on to Mr. Lloyd George.
The British and Ameri­
can companies were entirely independent organizations, but
rumors spread that members of the government had been taking
advantage of their official knowledge for their private
A select committee was appointed to,inquire into the
facts, and those concerned were acquitted of a charge of
grave impropriety by a majority of eight to six/'
In con­
nection with this acquittal Lord Birkenhead said that "Every
one who knew Rufus Isaacs personally or politically, knew
that he was one of those men who are absolutely incapable
of doing any act which they believed to be wrong.”-1-8
London Times, December 31, 1935.
Loc. cit.
Upon the death of Lord Alverstone in 1913, the Earl
of Reading succeeded him as Lord Chief Justice*
He was
appointed to this high office in recognition of his legal
abilities rather than as the reward of a Cabinet Minister.1
In January, 1914, he was created a baron and took the
title of Lord Reading*2
MAs Lord Chief Justice he was conspicuous for his
dignity and gentle courtesy; his freedom from fads or pre­
judice, and his willingness to spare no pains in arriving
at the truth."3
His judgments, whether delivered, orally
or put in writing, were always carefully organized and
well expressed.
As one observer remarked:
His conduct of the"court where for a time being he
was presiding was always admirable and was marked by
dignity and quietness. Accoustomed to dominate the
court while at the Bar, he was strong enough to domin­
ate it as a judge, without any apparent assertion or
exercise of his authority. Kindly compassion, a stern
sense of justice, and a dignified administration of
the' law were the hallmarks of his judicial career.4
^ T*10 Mancher Guardian, January 3, 1936.
S London Times, December 31, 1935.
Street, o£. cit*, p. 143.
^ London Times, loc. cit.
But he had been little more than half a year upon the Bench
when the war broke out.
The London Times stated:
The magnitude of the service which he rendered to the
nation then is not generally understood and is seldom
spoken of , but'those who knew him well in later life
know that there was no episode in his career on which
he looked back with greater satisfaction.5
During the short time which he was enabled to devote
to the duties of Lord Chief Justice he exhibited all the
high dualities which tradition and experience has led the
world to expect in a British judge.
At the outbreak of the World War, men of all posi­
tions and all shades of political opinion placed their ser­
vices at the disposal of their country.
At such a crisis
it was inevitable that the government should turn once more
to the man by whose wisdom they had often profited.
Throughout Lord Reading’s legal career he had been
associated with the leading financial.and commercial cases.
The financing of the great war was. perhaps the most urgent
problem which the government was called upon to solve.
shaping of the financial policy which saved Great Britain
from economic catastrophe a trthe beginning of the war was
due more to Lord Reading than to any other man.6
During the early weeks of the war, Great Britain was
6 London Times, loc. cit.
6 Loc. cit.
faced with two important problems, the reorganization of the
system of credit, and the financing of- the extensive schemes
for the provisions of men and materials for the continuance
of the struggle.
The predominate belief in Great Britain
that the war must terminate at an early date through the
collaps'e, financial and material, of the Central Powers
made it very difficult for the allied governments to 'demand
sacrifices from their peoples which would extend over a
lengthy period.
Very few statesmen ventured to warn the
public of what was yet to come, but Lord Heading was one of
the first to dare to warn the public of what could be ex­
On the occasion of a speech at Heading he expressed
his opinion in no uncertain terms.
ftI think that the man
who believes that we are at the end of the sacrifices to be
made in this war is living in a foolfs paradise,” he said.
”1 believe that we shall have to go through more than we
have hitherto had to suffer before we emerge in safety .and
see victory assured.
During the crisis of 1914 the Lord Chief Justice be­
came a member of the committee whose duty it was to deal
with the problem of high finance.
His advice
to. the com­
mittee was instrumental in securing the framing of the
^ Street, op.- cit. , p. 149.
measures which were taken at the time to avert the more
serious consequences to the hanks and financial houses of
the declaration of war.
Street said:
”It was Lord Reading who was chiefly responsible
for the stream of orders,, proclamations, and regulations
which followed the extension of the bank holiday, the mora­
torium, and the closing of the Stock Exchange.”8
It was said that of all the acts of courage in the
war, the arrangement by which the State, after the mora­
torium had been proclaimed, agreed to insure the payment
of bills was, perhaps, the most remarkable.
The liability ran into millions; the actual loss was a few
thousands at most.
"This was Lord Reading1s doing,” it was
written, ”and as a supreme example of intellectual courage
it is sufficient in itself to ensure him the niche in the
fame of the war.”9
In addition to the financial services Lord Reading
acted as peace-maker between the members of the Cabinet.
The Cabinet found as the war dragged on that its members .
were not always agreed upon the best method by which vic­
tory could be achieved.
As a former member of the govern­
ment he knew the views and opinions of each member of the
® London Times, December 31, 1935.
9 Loc. cit.
Cabinet, and since he no longer held a Ministerial post, he
could assume an impartial and detached view and exert his
persuasive power v/ithout the risk of incurring the charge
of personal bias.
The press generally agreed that the war must be won
at all cost, but opinions differed as to the wisdom of cer­
tain of the Cabinet’s decisions, and it was found necessary
for some one who enjoyed the confidence of all parties to
act as a mediator between the Cabinet and the press.
were many things which could be said to the editors, but
which could not be printed.
It was felt that Lord Reading
was the man to be relied upon, that any course of conduct
suggested by him was certain to be based upon a clear and
correct appreciation of the situation.
Thus behind the
scenes his powers of advocacy were again employed for his
country *s benef it.
The entry of America into the war in 1917 called
for a revision of the financial relationship hitherto ex­
isting between her and the Allies.
While the United
States was neutral J . P.. Morgan and Company had been Great
Britain’s agent in America, but upon the entrance of the
United States into the war the government had taken over
the function which .1. P. Morgan and Company had heretofore
been performing.!
Meanwhile Great Britain had incurred a
debt to Morgan and Company of some f400,000,000, which she
was quite unable to pay.
In this emergency Great Britain
intended to send over some eminent politician to straighten
the matter, but the American Government made it plain that
she wanted Lord Reading.
At the same time, in December,
1917, Sir Cecil Spring-Riee, the British Ambassador to the
United States, resigned.because of ill health.
Lord Read­
ing, because of his great success in America on previous
missions, was appointed to fill the vacant post.
The act
of appointment described him as "His Majesty’s Commissioner
in the United States of America in the character of Ambassa
London Times, December 31, 1935.
^ Ibid., January 8, 1918.
dor Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Special Mission.
As High Commissioner and Special Ambassador, besides
the work -of the British Washington, he had full
authority over the members of all British Missions sent to
the United States in connection with the prosecution of the
Discussing the duties of Lord Reading, Lord North-
cliff declared:
The nation is indebted to Lord Reading for taking up
the tremendous task of representing the War Cabinet,
the British War Mission to the United States, the
Treasury, the Ministry.of Munitions, the Air Board, and'
in fact all British interests in the United States at a
time when the interdependence of the united Kingdom on
each other’s war efforts has been assumed a scale
little imagined by the public, the speed of the AngloAmerican efforts has been impaired by the need of one
controlling head of all British affairs in the United
States. Precious weeks have been wasted in corres­
pondence and equally precious hours in cabling. . . .
The diplomatic and financial aspects of Lord Reading’s
mission are only part of his task. In addition, he
will be- in charge in the United States of an enormous
organization. The daily difficulties in Lord Reading’s
task will be mitigated by the good will extended to him
” eople of the United States and
The London Times, in a leading article dealing with the
appointment, declared that
The appointment of Lord Chief Justice of England
to be British High Commissioner in the United States
is remarkable in many respects. It recalls a proud
period in English history when English judges were,
as he is, versed in statescraft, and it gives evidence
3 The London Times, January 8 , 1918.
New ¥ork Times, January 8 , 1918.
^ Tfre London Times, loc. cit.
of a desire on the part of the government to make use
of indisputable financial and diplomatic ability. . . .
It is known that few men in England would be received
more cordially in America than Lord Heading.®
On this side of the Atlantic,equal satisfaction and
praise was expressed concerning his appointment as ambassa­
dor to the united States.
In an editorial the New York '
Times made the following comment:
Varied training in business, finance, and law joined
to abilities of a very high order, give' Lord Heading
special qualifications for the unusual duties he will
be called upon to perform as British Ambassador at
Washington. . . .The Ambassador is a man accoustomed
to large affairs, and he is especially skilled in fin­
ance. It is in that branch of .relation of the two
countries that his experience and abilities will be of
greatest service, and it is with large financial and
business transactions of his country with the United
States that he will chiefly concern himself at his
present post. . . . He is sure of a warm and sincere
welcome here, for he not only has many friends and
acquaintances in the United States, but the story of
his brilliant career and of his rise to that place of
great distinction which he occupies at home has won
for him the admiration of Americans.7
Before leaving for the United States the SolicitorGeneral, Sir Gordon Hewart, K.C., speaking in behalf of the
Bar, wished'his Lordship God-speed in his visit to the
United States.
During the course of his address he stated
that the occasion was without precedent and without parallel.
Never before in'the history of this country, in war
6 London Time s, January 18, 1918.
^ New York Times, January 8, 1918.
or peace, has the King appointed a Lord Chief Justice
of England to discharge the duties of High Commis­
sioner ? Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Pleni­
He further stated:
In the unexampled needs of the present crisis no
no other course was open. Already in the brief leisure
of his great office, his Lordship had rendered, from
the first moment of the war, such service to the state
as was possible. His Lordship was called to the
supreme task by the unanimous voice of the Englishspeaking world, and the satisfaction universally ex­
pressed on both sides of.the Atlantic at the announce­
ment of his appointment rested, as they all knew, on
the ardent belief that, as Lord Chief Justice of Eng­
land, he would bring to every difficult and complicated
problem not only to perfect impartiality of temper,
but also an unsurpassed clearness of vision.8
It was understood that Lord Heading would remain Lord
Chief Justice of England during his tenure of the office of
ambassador to the United States.
His appointment had been
dictated primarily by the needs of the war.
It also was
expected that after the war Lord Reading would resume his
brilliant career in the English Courts of Justice.
On February 9 Lord Reading arrived in the United
The American press gave him a very sympathetic
The British ambassador struck exactly the note
which the American people desired to hear when in a state­
ment to the newspapers he said,
I am indeed glad that I find myself once again, and
for the third time since the beginning of the war in
8 London Times, January IS, 1918.
America. . . . I return this time charged with many
and varied duties which I should scarcely have the
courage to undertake had I not known from the past ex­
perience that my Government could implicitly rely upon
the cordial good-will of the American people in their
complete co-ordination with the Allies in all measures
necessary for the vigorous prosecution of the war. . . .
Let me impress upon you that when I left England the
determination to carry the war to the end was as fixed
as ever.
Lord Heading went on to say,
The British people are willing to face the critical
months before us, perhaps the most critical of the war,
with grim tenacity; they are prepared to endure what­
ever suffering, privation, or sacrifice may be neces­
sary to obtain the only possible conclusion of this
war. That the American people are equally prepared to
exert every effort to bring about this result is the
surest guarantee that the cause is just and righteous.9
On February 14, 1918, he presented his credentials
before President Wilson.
On this occasion the President
expressed the belief that the "righteous cause" in which
the people of the United States and Great Britain are allied,
would bind them more closely with one another and with the
people of all other nations, "which desire the triumph of
justice and liberty and;the establishment of a peace which
shall last."-*-0
To which Lord Heading replied:
His Majesty has directed, me to express to you, Mr.
President, his earnest wish that the cordial rela­
tions which happily exist and have so long existed be­
tween Great Britain and the United States of America,
and are now especially strengthened by the whole­
hearted cooperation of the two nations in a great
New York Times, February 1 0 , 1 9 1 8 .
Ihid., February 1 5 , 1 9 1 8 .
Common cause, may forever be maintained and may ever
gain in strength. . . .
And I am sure that in discharging my duties I shall
find the greatest assistance in the hearty accord of an
administration, which is inspired by an ardent and sin­
cere desire to cooperate in bringing the present con­
flict to a successful issue, thereby establishing the
principles of liberty and justice between nations.1^
One of the first acts of Lord Reading was to meet all
the most influential correspondents in Washington and to
establish cordial relations with the American press.
The '
result of this had been that it removed the widespread mis­
apprehension that had existed in the United States about
Breat Britain.
America was under the impression that Eng­
land was maintaining her own trade despite the war.
Reading made it perfectly plain through the press that Great
Britain was not doing ’’business as usual/’ that she had
sacrificed virtually all trade in non-essentials and had
adopted the most drastic measures for the release of ship­
ping for the Trans-Atlantic war.
Another one of Lord Reading’s immediate acts was to
reorganize the whole Embassy Staff so as to coordinate the
activities of the war mission and all other British Missions
in .America.
Thus, for example, he appointed Sir Hardman
Lever, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, to be Assistant
Commissioner in other matters with the Personal rank of
New York Times, February 15, 1918.
Sir Richard Crawford was to be Commercial
Commissioner.12 .
Lord Reading, unlike other ambassadors, did not con­
fine his work to diplomacy only, but rendered the cause of
the Allies a great service by bringing this cause to the
American people.
He had the rare faculty of reconciling
American and European points of view.
He visited the prin­
cipal cities of the- united States and addressed large
audiences and thus became known to the majority of the
American people.
Knowing the psychology of the Americans he brought
the Allies1 cause to them in their own language.
Thus, for
example, on March 29, speaking before the Lotos Club, he
stirred his audience when he declared Mthe British and
American nations can together secure almost all that is
worth having, to ’the end not that one sovereignty might be
greater than another, but that justice and peace may pre­
vail on earth.
In addressing the conference of American war lec­
tures he pointed out to them why America entered the war:
You watched, you weighed, you considered not from
fear, but because there were great responsibilities
naturally upon you and upon those who were your
12 New York Times, February 27, 1918.
1^ London Times, March 29, 1918.
leaders . . . there were movements when your very soul
stirred with indignation at what was happening. There
came, eventually after interchanges of notes, acts
which made it impossible for you as a self respecting
nation, according to the views of your President, to
abstain from taking part in the conflict, therefore,
America stepped into the war, and with it the whole
plan of the conflict was raised, because we know per­
fectly well that America has only fought, and will
fight for liberty, and democracy was that for which
alone she would draw the sword.14
He urged his:listeners to go forth and arouse the
people of America to a realization of the war.
on the subject, "Is war worth it?” he again shows his
ability to speak to the American people in their own
He said:
You will say to yourself, as very likely others say
to themselves: Is it worth it? The answer is yes, it
is worth it: and worth doing it again and again. It
would not be worth it if we were fighting for the
aggrandizement of one Power over another, but it is
worth it if we realize that we are fighting for liberty
and justice. To my mind this war is the challenge of
brute force to justice. It means that liberty is to
be crushed by military despotism if Germany can tri­
umph. it means that if we succeed, if you and we, and
the Allies win the victory, as we must certainly shall,
then it means that justice and liberty will triumph;
it will mean that the-cause of which we are fighting,
the great'conflict by which we hope, in your President’s
words to make the world safe for democracy . . . to' take
care that justice shall' be done between nations— shall
Lord Heading addressed the sixth annual meeting of
14 Ibid.. April 11, 1918.
Loc. cit.
Lord reading addressed the sixth annual meeting of
the Chamber of Commerce of the United states held in Chicago
on April 11, 1918,
Luring the course of his address he was
greatly cheered, especially when he declared:
The liberty of the whole world is the issue, and
there will be no German peace. The end of this con­
flict can come only by the signing of a just and
lasting peace,and Germany shall never dictate its
The issue at stake is as sacred as the religion
each of us possesses. It means that the liberty of
the world is at stake, that the freedom of all the
nations is in the balance. It means that here is a
challenge by sword to justice, an attack'by military
despotism upon democracy. It means that everything
you and I hold dear in this world is taken in this
war. . . .I6
Speaking on the same subject a few months later he
again said, "Gradually, as evidence unfolded America came
to realize that this was a struggle between two- systems of
government which could no longer co-exist."
Lord Reading
further stated:
They were' at the death-grapple. They are still.
One or the other must survive. We know perfectly well
that democracy will triumph. The one striking-feature
of American institutions and of the American'people is
the all-abiding faith they have in democracy as the
true system of all government. In their unalterable
conviction autocracy is the enemy of manking. Auto­
cracy must always mean military despotism, and military
despotism must rest upon the power to make war. The
London Times, April 15, 1918.
power to make war, exercised as a means to keep a
G-overnment in power, inevitably as a means that war must
ensue. It means further, that the u-overnment beset by
any difficulties, plots for war. They are convinced as
we are in this country, that no democracy, whatever may
be said of what it might do in passion, ever sets out
to plot for war. Therefore they come to the conclusion
that it was necessary to engage in this war for the
rescue of democracy as a system of government, with all
that is involved for truth, for liberty, for justice
prevailing amongst men.1?
Lord Reading knew how to appeal to American sentiment.
This ability is clearly seen from his address delivered at a
luncheon given by the Merchant Association where he was
guest of honor.
His address was broken repeatedly by ap­
plause, especially at such times as when he stated his cause
as in the following:
In the end, we shall together be able to say that we
have conquered for liberty and for justice. You will
be able again to assert that passion for liberty for
justice which has characterized the American people
ever since they have been a people has once more tri­
umphed as it has in the past. Once again you will have
attained the high ideal; you will have taken this time
a place among nations which possibly many of you neverthought would be taken: but you will have done it hold­
ing on high the banner of liberty, calling to all to
follow that banner--pointing out that when America
does fight, it is not for aggression, it is not for
territory, it is not for conquest, it is not for vanity
or for any dynasty, but that it fights alone for liberty,
for the benefit of humanity.18
In another speech given at the National Press Club he
London Times, August 22, 1918.
18 New York Times, March 8, 1918.
pointed out the differences of the philosophies upon which
the respective governments rest.
He said:
America at the- moment of call from the Allies
responded swiftly and unhesitating with troops to the
utmost of the shipping capacity, to he used as deemed
best for the unselfish object of assisting to the best
of her ability in the emergency. As time has passed
and the vision has become clearer, it is apparent that
this titanic conflict is one in which you must inevi­
tably have borne your part, for the struggle is between
two systems of government, the one where the individual
exists for the greater glorification of the state or
dynasty, the other where the state exists for the pro■ tection of the weak and oppressed, and the safeguarding
of the rights and liberties, and is based upon those
principles of morality which are the only safe guides
for -human conduct. . . ,
Under the latter system two great commonwealths have
been involved as steps in the development of the human
race upon this earth, the one sprung from the loins of
the other and with all the virility and enthusiasm of
its young manhood now fighting along side of the elder,
to vindicate those ideals to which both the British
Empire and the American Republic are dedicated.!9
As the war dragged on the Allies' position became
precarious, so much so that Sir Douglas Haig, British Chief
of Staff, made the following declaration:
With our backs to the wall, and believing‘in the
^ justice of our cause, each one of us must, fight on to
the end. The safety of our homes and freedom of manking
depend alike upon the conduct of each one of us at this
critical moment.2-0
At this very critical moment Lloyd George, too, appealed to
the President that American troops should be sent abroad to
New York Times, May 12, 1918.
London Times, April 13, 1918.
save the Allies from defeat.
Lord Reading read the follow­
ing Premier1s message at the'Lotus Club dinner on May 27.,
We are at the crisis of the war. Attacked by an
immense superiority of German troops, our army has been
forced to retire. . . . Ihe situation is being faced
with splendid courage and resolution . . . but this
battle, the greatest and the most momentous in the
history of the world, is only .gust beginning. Through­
out it the French and British are buoyed with the
knowledge that the great Republic in the west will
neglect no effort which can hasten its troops and its
ships to Europe, it is impossible to exaggerate the
importance of getting American reinforcements across
the Atlantic in the shortest possible space of time.2!
President Wilson immediately took steps to transport
American troops to Europe.
On April 2, 1918, Lord Reading
sent a message of thanks to President Wilson in behalf of
the British Government.
It read:
The knowledge that owing to the President’s prompt
cooperation the Allies will receive the strong re­
inforcement necessary during the next few months is
most welcome to the British Government and people.22
On many occasions after this momentous decision by
the President, Lord Reading showed the importance that
America now assumed as partner in the war and her responsi­
bility to achieve victory for the Allies.
On April 24,
1918, he was guest of honor at a banquet given by the St.
George’s Society.
During the course of his address he
New York Times, March 28, 1918.
22 Ibid.. April 3, 1918.
stated that last month had brought the most severe trial
that Great Britain had ever known.
resulted in undoubted benefit.
That supreme trial had
It had cemented more closely
the alliance between the British and French nations, and had
led to the establishment of a united command.
Lord Reading described the consent given by President
Wilson to the British urge that American troops might be
brigaded with the French and British divisions as a factor
of supreme importance unhesitatingly given in a spirit of
noble and unselfish devotion to the cause of the Allies.
The audience rose with an accord to their feet and cheered
as Lord Reading described the action of General Pershing,
in presenting himself to General Foch and saying, "Here I
am with American troops.
Everything we have is at your
Proceeding with his speech Lord Reading said:
We are not likely to forget that prompt and.unhesi­
tating reply of the United States. . . . 1 am not en­
titled to tell you exactly what happened, but I am
justified in saying that ever since then there has been
a greater activity among the American soldiers in this
country.' Ships* that had been required for other pur­
poses were used to carry soldiers. I know I am speak­
ing the sentiment of all of you in saying that, when
the moment arrives at which American, British, French,
and .Italians will all fight side by side, there will be
one idea dominating all and in the hour of victory no
petty question will be raised, no one will ask who was
responsible among the Allies for winning the victory.
It will be simply our victory, for all of us will be
London Times, April 25, 1918.
24 Loc. cit.
With the decision of the President to send American
troops abroad many, problems arose.
It was now necessary to
send more men, food, war materials and other supplies abroad.
Among these was the problem of food supply, transportation,
shipping, and the supply of man power.
Lord Heading took
a hand in each of these problems and was instrumental in
bringing them to a successful conclusion.
One' of the first acts of the American government was
to regulate all exports and imports so as to cut down nonessentials and save tonnage for war purposes.
This caused
many hardships on the American people and the question was
raised as to whether England was making equal sacrifices,
as there was still an impression here that England had
maintained her own trade and despite the war was doing
"business as usual.”
To remove this widespread misapprehen­
sion Lord Reading, in a frank and free discussion, made it
plain to the American press that Great Britain had sacrificed
virtually all trade of non-essentials and had adopted the
most drastic measures for the release of shipping for the
Trans-Atlantic war service and was carrying nothing but
food and war
s u p p l i e s .
During the early months of the American entry into
the war, there were difficulties in the conveyance of food-
25 London Times, February 22, 1918.
stuffs by rail from-the interior to the coast for shipment
abroad owing to the excessive cold.
These were -overcome by
the action of Mr. MacAdoo, the Director-General of the Rail­
ways who issued orders that the transport of food to the
seaboard for the Allies should have absolute precedence over
all other traffic.
On February 22, 1918, Mr. MacAdoo had a conference
with Lord Reading and told him that six trains loaded with
meat products would be moved to the coast daily for the next
four weeks for export to the Allies until a great quantity
had been transported.
Mr. MacAdoo also stated that between
1,500,000 to 2,000,000 bushels of corn were being taken to
primary markets in the West daily that would be shipped to
the Allies.2^A few months later, speaking on the American
aid to the Allies, Lord Reading said:
It is no secret that in February the food situation
in France, Italy, and Great Britain was causing seri­
ous anxiety. That situation, however, had been relieved
by the indefatigable extertions of Mr. Hoover cordially
supported by the American people. It would be im­
possible to speak too highly of his efforts to provide
foodstuffs for the Allies and the way in which he in­
variably responded to the joint request of my French
and Italian colleagues and myself, who throughout acted
in the closest and most intimate cooperation. There
came a time early in the year when wheat could not be
supplied to the Allies from the United States unless
the American people were willing themselves to go short.
Mr. Hoover placed the facts before them. The response
London Times, August 14, 1918.
to the appeal for self-denial was immediate and remark­
able, and enabled large shipments to be made at a time
when, according to all calculations, there was no ex­
portable surplus in America.
As an appreciation of the cooperation afforded by the
United States Government in solving the food problem of
England Lord Reading issued the following statement to the
American people:
I am sure I need.not tell you how beholded we are
to the Americans for the supplies which we are receiv­
ing, more particularly of food, at this moment and •
during the last few months. The value to the allied
cause of these exports is incalculable.2®
The British were able to institute a rationing system
because the American vessels replenished their food supply.
The rationing of meat, butter, and sugar had put an end to
the feeling of insecurity caused under previous conditions,
when long lines of buyers had to wait before provisions
shops which were sometimes sold out before the purchasers
at the end of the line had their turn to purchase.
rationing system guaranteed that whatever there was, it was
equally divided among poor and rich, thus producing a better
feeling of security. *
Another problem that faced the administration and the
London Times, August 14, 1918.
New York Times, March 7, 1918.
29 Loc. cit.
Allies was the transport of troops.
America did not have
sufficient ships to carry men and supplies and the Allies1
ships were busy in action.
Because of the efforts of Mr.
Hurley, with the assistance of Mr. Schwab, ships were
.launched and placed in commission within a period of two
Lord Reading summarized the situation in the follow­
ing words:
When that moment came the demand had to be made to
the United States from the British Government for
assistance in the shape of quickened transport of men,
and what had hitherto seemed impossible became a
living thing almost as the request was put forward. The
great difficulty had always been to find the transport.
The chief difficulty that had prevented America from
sending over a larger number of troops was that trans­
ports were not available; but there were difficulties
also in landing and dealing with men. When the supreme
moment came, somehow or other no one knows how— the
British Ministry of shipping, the Admiralty, and all
concerned managed to find the ships, cost what it might.
America was determined to be equal to us in any sacri­
fice that was necessary, and she also put forth her
best effort, and the result of those efforts was, as
you are seeing now, these great number of men coming
over. It seems most difficult to picture to ourselves
what the^advent-of close upon 300,000 men a month
transported across the Atlantic means.- America, what­
ever else may be said, or whatever'may happen, will
always be entitled to receive, and will receive, from
the Allies the credit due to her. . . .50
In the last analysis the factor that helped the Allies
to win the war was American man power.
Nearly 1,500,000
American soldiers were in France by August, 1918.
The impor­
tance that these men played in winning the war can be seen
30 London Times, August 22, 1918.
from the testimony given by Lord Reading in the report, to his
fellow countrymen on his return to England.
He said:
When I arrived in the United States I found their
American Military Law already in operation, and when- ever the history of the war comes to be written . . .
■ very high will rank the achievements of the adminis­
tration and the legislature in passing within so
short a period after war was declared an Act which
gave them compulsory military service of their huge
population, which gave to every one there the personal
interest which is so necessary of a relative or friend
engaged in the struggle.- If any one doubts the value
of it, let him turn to what has happened so recently,
when you see as I do, 1,300,000 men and more in France
at the present moment sent over by the United States,
in so short a period . . . when America announced her
entry into the war-— all doubts were once for all re­
moved, and the end, however long delayed, was quite
certain. But even so, we probably never imagined that
in so short a period America could play such a splendid
part in war. . . .
In the period of March, and the period which has
‘continued -up to now, we have had this magnificent
spectacle, which has not only proved so inspiring and
encouraging to all our troops and to all our people,
but has actually given results. You know what has
happened . . . you know the change that has taken place
in the aspect of things since American troops arrived.
. . . We feel as proud of their heroism and valour as
if it had been that of our own soldiers.
During his stay in England Lord Reading visited the
American troops onr French soil.
He took the opportunity to
address them and told them the significance of their ac­
complishments, saying:
I doubt if you yourselves know what your presence
has done to encourage the British and French troops
fighting here on the soil of France. From the time
London Times, August 2£, 1918.
your President said that you were to he sent over as
fast as ships could carry you there has been no holding
back. The submarine has hot held you back. . . .
You have.only to look at the map to see what America
is doing. But there is something more than your achieve­
ments.- There*is the Inspiration which your presence
affords to the British and the French who are fighting
with you to reclaim the devastated homes of this land
of France, which is being won back for France, for France
who has withstood this great struggle so heroically for
four long years. You are helping t o d o this. . . . It
is the support of all Americans, who, with all the
British and all the French, are determined to fight to
the end to make this a better world for all lovers of
human freedom.32
During his brief career as Ambassador to the United
States Lord Heading received honorary degrees from four
great American universities^-Columbia, Princeton, Yale, and
Harvard--an honor never before conferred on any ambassador.
After conferring an honorary degree upon Lord Reading at Columbia University, Mr. Lansing, Secretary of State,
delivered an address in'which he stated, "Prussia wickedly
sought war and Prussia shall have war, more war, and more
war, until the very thought of war is abhorrent to the
Prussian mind."33
.Upon conferring an honorary degree upon Lord Heading,
Dean Andrew Fleming West said:
not alone for his great personal distinction, but also
as supremely standing for the majesty of English law,
Eofldon Times, September 6, 1918.
33 Ibid., June 25, 1918.
ancestral to our own and supremely representing here the
free and the brave, and decent British people and their
mighty empire, now passing with us, through the ordeal
of fire we acclaim his presence with utmost favor,
pledging to the limit of our power all we have and are,
both hero and side by side on the field of France or
wherever freedom flies her flag in the storm, until the
arch enemy of free people shall fall to rise no more.34"
After receiving an honorary degree at Harvard Lord
Reading took the opportunity to propose that permanent ties
should be established between the United States and the
British Empire.
He said:
Our desire is to join you, to cooperate with you,
to combine with you as fully as you will let us for
the benefit of humanity, for the preservation of the
liberties of the world, for the securing of justice
among nations. . . . Having, as I verily believe,
raised, or helped to raise among the Allies the ideals
of men, let us combine to keep these ideals ever con­
tinue to raise these ideals even higher, so that in
the end we may b e 'joined together. In that way we may
transmit to our posterity, your descendents and ours,
the same principles, the same ideals, the same deter­
mination, which indeed, make life'better, purer,
juster, freer, for as long as we can work together-that means. I do believe, as long as the world shall
In addition to receiving four honorary degrees from
American universities, Lord Reading also received an honor­
ary degree from the University of Toronto.
Here, too, he
advocated a union between all the English-speaking people.33
34 New York Times, June 16, 1918.
London Times, June 25, 1918.
36 Ibid.. May 20, 1918.
In the early part of August, Lord Reading returned to
England for a brief .stay.
object of his mission.
Many rumors were spread as to the
It was said that he would not return
to the United States, but that he wanted to work out plans
for an alliance with this country.
However, he repudiated
all such rumors in a speech made in England soon after his
He said:
May I say -. . . that when I returned to this country
I came in order that I might have the advantage of
conferring with the Prime Minister, with the Foreign
Office, and with his Majesty’s Government so that we
might discuss matters as we can so much better in con­
versation than by cable. I emphasize it because I
have seen various reasons attributed for my visit here,
I can only refer to one. It is said that I came here
for the purpose of drawing up the terms of an offensive
and defensive alliance between the United States and
Great Britain. There is not a word of truth in that
The second rumor that he would not return to the
United States was denied by the London Times, which stated:
We understand that, while no definite period has
been fixed to Lord Reading’s stay in England, it will
'not be.of long duration. As soon as the conferences
in which he is engaged in London are terminated he will
return to Washington.38
Commenting on the duration .of his visit the New York Times
It was well understood by the United States Govern­
ment when Lord Reading departed from Washington that
London Times% August £2, 1918.
Ibid., August 8, 1918.
his business in England was of temporary character only.
This Government would feel real concern if Lord
Reading should fail to resume his official duties here.
He has established the most cordial relations with
President Wilson and members of the Administration and
his recall would be regarded as a real deprivation,
particularly at this important time when Lord Reading
was working in close harmony with the United States
Government in the arrangement of measures for winning
the war.39
The return of Lord Reading to England was the cause
of interesting comments by the English and American press.
All agreed that his achievements in the United States were
of the greatest value to the victory of the Allies.
London Times evaluated his work in the United States in the
following editorial:
Lord Reading has managed to achieve in a few months
a prestige and an influence at least equal and probably
greater than any Ambassador, British or foreign, has
ever enjoyed in the United States. . . .
Much of the work which the British Ambassador has
done must necessarily remain secret, but it is no ex­
aggeration to say that in the critical period of -the
war beginning with the German super-offensive last
March, the name Reading will be indelibly associated
in the history with that of President Wilson and General
Foch in bringing unity of command and unity of action
among the Entente Allies. He is the most helpful in­
fluence that has appeared in a generation in bringing
the English-speaking democracies closer together. He
has done more than any written pact or agreement ever
could have done. He has brought about between the two
governments an understanding of the heart and mind of
their peoples.40
39 New York Times, August 7, 1918.
London Times, August 8, 1918.
Equal praise was showered upon him by the American press.
In an editorial the New York Times stated:
All Americans will rejoice that Lord Reading, who
recently left these shores for a return voyage, has■
safely reached an English port. They will be equally
unanimous and cordial in expressing the hope that his
return to England may prove to be but a temporary and
brief interruption of his extraordinary useful and
valuable labors as"Ambassador of the British Govern­
ment at Washington.
The service of Lord Reading . . . was of the highest
order of diplomacy and statesmanship. It was an in­
dispensable service. He saw clearly that swift trans­
portation across the Atlantic of American troops in
large numbers and of American foodstuffs in an enormous
volume was vital need of the hour.
With his remarkable genius . . . he was able to make
the resources of Great Britain and the United- States
supplement each other . . . with the result that British
shipping has made American armies and American supplies
promply available for the reinforcement and sustenance
of the allied forces in the field. . . .
Americans may well feel that Lord Reading has been
in no exclusive sense a representative.of Great Britain,
since it is in no inconsiderable measure due to his
ability and his labor that the United States has been
able in so short a time to fill so large a place among
-the forces arrayed against the enemies.41
During his stay in England he went to France and
visited the American troops who captured Juvigny.
After a
brief visit of inspection Lbrd Reading addressed a large
number of American officers attached to Headquarters.
ing in a deep dug-out quite near the front line he said:
General I am glad to be here.
I made up my mind
41 New York Times, August 7, 1918.
when I came to France that I would not go back to
America without seeing you, so that when I got back,
I could tell them about you and what you are doing . . .
it is magnificent. You have come over here over 3,000
miles. You are ready to risk your lives and you are
fighting for an ideal, the highest ideal of all men,
an ideal of'justice and liberty . . . you came in the
war with no desire to conquer, but fully convinced that
it was necessary for the good of the world that you
should take your stand with u s . ^
Lord Reading1s address was embodied by the American
commander in General Orders and read to the troops of all
He also visited General Pershing and General
Foch's headquarters..
With the declaration of the Armistice Lord Reading's
position at Washington was completed.
He now took an active
part in formulating the peace treaties.
On October 15, 1918,
he was summoned to a meeting of the War Cabinet, after a
conference with Premier Lloyd George, presumably to give the
Cabinet his personal opinion regarding President Wilson1s
views of concluding the war.
Again on October 31, 1918,
Lord Reading together with the. Prime Minister represented
Great Britain at the Supreme War Council, which met at Versailles. 4-^ He returned to London from Paris on November 6,
1918, and on the eighth of that month he was stricken with
a feverish cold that kept him in bed until November 17,
London Times, September 6, 1918.
43 Ibid... October 31, 1918.
While in England he acted as a member of the War
Cabinet, and participated in its daily sessions.
Five times
he arranged to return to America, but each time his sailing
was postponed at the request of Premier Lloyd George.
At a
luncheon given by the Pilgrim Club of England Lord Reading
As you know, I came here to consult with our own
Government, and ever since there have been events
happening which have necessitated my remaining. Five
times I have been almost within twenty-four hours of
leaving and five times I have been stopped. I remain
here now, as is my duty, for, according to the tradi­
tion in the Diplomatic Service. I being accredited to
the President of the United States, should be here
when the President comes to this country. . . .45
This prolonged stay in England again gave rise to
rumors that Lord Reading would not return to the United
States and that he would retire from the bench.
It was not
until February 13, 1919, that the Associated Press learned
authoritatively that Lord Reading would return to America.
On February 20 he sailed to the United States after having
postponed previous departures because of illness.
going on board he informed the press that he was anxious to
get back to Washington because there were matters to attend
to, including the completion of the British High Commission.
London Times, November 8, 1918.
45 Ibid.. November 29, 1918.
He hoped to return to England in April.^
On March 1, 1919, he issued the following statement
on his arrival in the United States.
It is with great pleasure that I find myself for the
fourth time since the war in the United States . . .
when I left for. England in August of last year my in­
tention was to stay there a few weeks. The rapidly
changing situation in Europe led to repeated postpone­
ments of my intended return to "Washington. . . .
After the terms of the Armistice had been settled by
the associated powers, came the news that your President
would visit Europe for the purpose of attending the
Peace Conference. It then became my duty, as it is my
privilege, to await his arrival and to remain in England
during his visit. Those who were present will always
remember the wonderful reception given to him by the
British people. They were delighted to have the oppor­
tunity of paying their tribute to your President and
through him to the American people.
However, it was understood that he would not remain
long in this country.
After completing some of the unfin­
ished business that was left in Washington, he prepared to
return to England.
On May 4, 1919, he returned to resume
his post of Lord Chief Justice of England.
Upon his arrival
David L. -George, British Prime Minister, addressed a letter
to Lord Reading, conveying the Government’s thanks for the
conspicuous services rendered the Empire while he was acting
ambassador to the United States.
The letter assured him
that he was returning to his high judicial duties with the
New York Times. February 21, 1919.
Ibid., February 3, 1919.
gratitude and good will of the nation and empire.4®
It was now difficult for him to settle down to the
routine of his former work.
"The War," he said, "had spoilt
In truth, he had in his missions and ambassadorship
shown such qualities that the government could not afford
to let him remain even in the Chief Justiceship.49
4® New York Times, May 26, 1919.
49 London Times, December 31, 1935.
India, a territory of 1,808,629 square miles, equiva­
lent to about one half of the United States, belongs to
Great Britain,
It is administered by the British sovereign,
as Emperor of India through the viceroy.
In addition to the
religions directly governed by British officials, it in­
cludes native states that are under the control of the
British government.
The population, according to the figures of*the
census of 1921, consisted of 216,734,586 Hindus, 68,735,233
Moslems, and 11,571 Buddhists.1
the population are literate.
Only six per cent of all
About seventy-two per, cent
of the people are engaged in agriculture and pastoral pur­
Raw cotton is the chief export.
Rice is the most
important food crop.
India had been profoundly affected by the war.
Gritain had, during the war, found herself faced with the
necessity of conciliating large blocks of people under her
The simplest way in which to secure the sup­
port of these peoples was to promise them either independence
1International Year Book. 1923.
2L. R. Street, Lord Reading, p. 178.
or a measure of self government in accordance with the de­
mands of their most advanced advocate.
Such promises were
made by English politicians to the people of India, but
after the war had been won, the promises were not fulfilled,
because the natives were not prepared for self-government.
The period immediately after the war was truly in­
English prestige had vanished in India and
the natives had lost their traditional respect for the
A humiliating treaty with Afghanistan had des­
troyed among the Indians their former reverence for British
Eor it is a curious fact that EnglandTs victory
over Germany lowered, rather than raised her military repu­
tation in India.
The masses had hitherto regarded English­
men as all-powerful, and their respect was turned to some­
thing resembling contempt, when they learned that their
ruler had been forced to seek the aid of other nations to
win a victory.
Thus, for the' first time in its thousands
of years of history, the hundred races, religions, and
languages of the Indian Peninsula united in their hatred
toward the English.4
In fact the whole country was in a'
state of turmoil and on every hand one could sense the
3 Capolla, "Visiting the Viceroy," Living Age, 315:
20, October 7, 1922.
4 Loc. cit.
mounting bitterness against the ruler of India*5
In spite of British efforts to solve the Indian af­
fairs, the state of India appeared to be going from bad to
At this critical period Viceroy Chelmsford's term
expired; and in January, 1921, it was announced that Lord
Heading was to succeed him as Viceroy of India.
Reading, himself, had no ambition to become Viceroy, for he
had previously held the highest judicial post in the British
Empire, which in those days, at least, was greatly to be
preferred to the hard task of governing India.
He was
further reluctant to accept the position because he feared
that Lady Reading would not be able to stand the Indian
But it was Lord Curzon who overcame his fears by
insisting that India had many climates, and for the Viceroy
it was always possible to choose what climate he pleased.7
The London Times, commenting on his appointment, said:
In Lord Reading India will have a Viceroy of an un­
usual, and as we think, a suitable type, well fitted
to the changing conditions. The next Viceroy must be
a man of,exceptional mental caliber and of varied ex­
perience, and Lord Reading possesses these qualities
in an ample degree.8
^ "Lord Reading’s Rule," New York Times, May, 1922.
^ London Times, December 31, 1935.
7 Loc. cit.
® Quoted in the Literary Digest, February 19, 1921,
p . 22.
Lord Heading went to India with the spirit of up­
holding the traditions of British justice in India,
In a
speech delivered before the British Bar members he said:
'We. have learned that there are calls of duty which
must be obeyed. To be the representative of the King.Emperor in India is to be the representative of justice.
I leave the seat of justice, not forsaking the pursuit
of justice, but rather pursuing it in a larger field.
Going to India, with the sole desire to do right, I
undertake this task gladly, because it was represented
to me that in doing so I could be of service to my
country. I am confident that in India, as in England,
justice must reign supreme.9
Lord Reading arrived in India April 2, 1921.
landing at Bombay the new 'Viceroy received a cordial wel­
come from a brilliant throng of high officials.
The muni­
cipal corporation presented an address to which Lord Read­
ing r e p l i e d . I n this reply he declared that he fully
recognized the seriousness of his undertaking and the vast
responsibilities which would devolve upon him.
He concluded
by stressing his belief in justice administered with rigor­
ous impartiality.
These words‘created a strong and favor­
able impression upon the Indian people..
Speaking of the wel­
come, he declared it to show "that the people of India have
not set their hearts against the new Viceroy, but rather
9 L. R. Street, op. cit., p. 189.
"India's Welcome to her new Viceroy," New York
Times Current History, 14:528, May, 1921.
that they gladly welcomed a Viceroy who wished to he in
sympathy with them."!-*- Thus, it was in the spirit of " jus­
tice according to equality” that Lord Heading at the age of
sixty started out on his new undertaking.
Lord Heading inherited from his predecessor a great
and .difficult burden.
He assumed office in April, 1921,
during times of grave danger and anxiety.
G-andhiTs protest
movement had just then reached greater height than ever ber
Gandhi was everywhere, visiting all the principal
cities, advocating cooperation of Hindus and Mohammedans,
and was universally reverenced as a god.
The "God, Gandhi,
sent down to earth to drive the last of the hated whites
■from the sacred soil of India, and'to prove for all time
the undisputed superiority of the Asiatics to the Euro­
Because of Gandhi*s influence there developed among
the masses of India, who were formerly courteous and loyal,
a violent hatred toward the government and a tendency to
obstruct and insult officials to such an unprecedented ex­
tent that in certain parts of the country Europeans were
living in constant fear of attack.
many anti-British demonstrations.
His activities led to
One of these was a popu-
"India’s Welcome to her new Viceroy," loc. cit.
Capolla, op. cit., p. 20.
lar movement to burn in public all cloth of British manufac­
ture and many of his followers threw into the fire the for­
eign cloth in their
p o s s e s s i o n . 1 3
Theoretically, G-andhi preached a passive revolt
against all Western influence and a return to an idyllic
condition in which India knew neither suffering nor disease,
poverty nor hunger.
In practice, his non-cooperative move­
ments meant boycotting all western goods, European employees,
and murderous attacks upon police officers.
Passive re-
sistance involved refusal to pay taxes, refusal to perform
military or civil service, and to disobey civil authority.
The inciting speeches of Gandhi and his associates
led to fatal conflicts between the police and non-cooperat­
ing mobs at numerous centers.
were frequent riots.
Throughout the year there
In August fighting took place in the
streets of Calcutta, where nearly seven hundred insurgents,
who had been disturbing the southern and south-eastern
quarters of the city, were killed by British troops sent to
put down the riots, and seventy of the soldiers and seven­
teen of the policemen were missing.^
A few European resi­
dents were also killed and a large number of Hindus were
I rz
International Year Book, 1921, p. 344.
14 Ibid.,
Towards the end of the same month there commenced in
the southern province of Malabor among the fanatic Mohamme­
dans an attack directed at first at the European planters
and later in wholesale fashion against the. Hindu population.
It was not long before this conflict began to assume the
dimensions of a civil war. 15
2,339 persons.
i>he Mohammedans lost about
Of these 1,652 were wounded and 5,955. were
The murdered Hindus numbered in the hundreds and
the forced conversions to Mohammedanism were estimated by
the thousands.IS
At the same time there had occurred at
the shrine of Nankhana sahib one of the most.terrible reli­
gious massacres of all time.;
About two hundred Reformist
Siks were admitted to the interior of the shrine, the great
doors were closed behind them, and every man, woman, and
child of the company was murdered.
To deal with this unrest the government adopted a
firm policy.
It put in operation the Rowlatt Bill, which
was passed in 1919 by both houses of Parliament.
This bill
gave extra-judicial power for dealing with rioting and
s e d i t i o n . I t suspended all civil rights and,left the
George Pilcher, "Lord Reading*s Indian Viceroyalty,"
Edinburgh Review, 1926, p. 227.
Po°» cit.
17 L. R. Street,
o jd.
cit., p. 198.
natives at the mercy of the government.
However, instead
of helping the government *to subdue the riots, it greatly
angered the intelligent natives, who were till then co- *
operating with the English.1®
jn order to defeat this
measure, Gandhi advocated his passive resistance policy,
which brought about more riots in which many were killed.
The success of the Turks in Asia Minor was celebrated
by the Indian Mohammedans everywhere.
At Bombay the date,
September 18, 1922, was made a day of prayer and thanksgiv­
ing and the Moslem quarters of the city were draped with
Turkish flags.
In Calcutta, also, the same day, Moslems
were summoned from all quarters to pray for Turkish success.
A pilgrimage of thousands of Moslems was made to the Mosques,
where Lloyd George was denounced for his persecution of the
Resolutions were passed at a great meeting at
Ahmedabad, protesting against the British dispatch of troops
to Constantinople, and the speakers threatened to aid the
Turks on the battle field, if Great Britain declared war
against Turkey.19
In response to the discontent, the British govern­
ment made promises to comply with the Moslem demands, but
ahead with measures of repression, such as the arrest of the
International Year Book, 1921, p. 545.
19 International Year Book, 1922, p. 351.
Mohammedan leaders, the Ali brothers, and Dr. Hitchlew, sen­
tencing them to two years imprisonment.
On this occasion
Gandhi proceeded to declare that the time had come for the
refusing of any cooperation with the government.
This .in­
volved refusal to pay taxes and to perform military ser­
Mohammed-Ali, the Moslem leader of India, declared
that "if the people of India followed the advice of Gandhi
they would have freedom and home rule within a .year."^®
The fomenters of disorder were given an unusual
opportunity for dramatic display of their power in the first
year of Lord Reading’s office; namely, the visit to India of
the Prince of Wales which was made at the Viceroy’s own in­
As early as July, 1921, Gandhi had made it quite
clear that, regarded as an ambassador of British influence,
the'Prince of Wales, when he came to India, would be made
the subject of a non-cooperative strike demonstration when­
ever and wherever possible.22
On November 17, 1921, on the day of the landing of
the Prince of Wales in Bombay, the ceremonials of welcoming
him were accompanied by rioting in the native quarters, but
where the Prince appeared he was received with the apparent
New York Times Current History, 14:635.
London Times, December 31, 1935.
George Pilcher', op. cit., p. 228.
enthusiasm by great crowds made up of all classes of the
population. ■At the same time Gandhi called for a general
Rioting occurred during the Prince’s procession in
the quarter of the city where the Nationalist element was
About twenty thousand natives took part in the dis­
order, which resulted in the burning of property, assaults
on the police, and the killing of over fifty persons, and
the wounding of four hundred.
The Prince’s journey continued with somewhat similar
results in other cities— being received magnificently by
the official class, but with protests and rioting by the
The news about the shedding of blood was re­
ceived with great regret by Gandhi because of his inability
to prevent violence on the part of the masses.
The behavior
of the Nationalists during the visit of the Prince of Wales
produced such a powerful reaction in England that it
startled even Lloyd George from his preoccupation.2^
took the opportunity to point out that the reforms intro­
duced in India were in force during an experimental period,
and were subject to repeal, should they be found unworkable.
The policies advocated by Gandhi were carried out by
23 George Pilcher, ’’Lord Reading’s Indian Viceroyalty,”
Edinburgh Review, 1926, p. 228.
24: Street, op. cit., p. 248.
the representatives of the Indian people, who worked in a
body known as the Indian National Congress.
This Congress
met yearly and decided upon ways and means t o ‘gain complete
independence of Great. .Britain.
The Nationalist Congress
that met in the year 1921 was attended by IS,000 people.
At this time a proposal was introduced by Gandhi which
called for a policy of non-violence.
This proposal was
carried with only twelve dissenting votes.
The resolution,
according to its author, was a challenge to an arrogant
government, which had disregarded the opinion of the mil­
lions of natives and was attempting to crush out their free­
The resolution declared that Gandhi was the sole
executive authority of the movement and that neither he nor
any of his successors, .if theywould .be arrested, should
be authorized to make peace with the government without the
previous consent of the Congress. ^
The people were advised
to organize public meetings throughout the country without regard to the law forbidding them and were exhorted to join
the Khalifat volunteers and to submit quietly if they were
arrested. ^
The Nationalist appealed to racial and sentimental
prejudices of the people and took advantage of the existing
InternationaI Year Book, 1921, p. 346.
26 Ibid., p. 344.
economic discontent, resulting from after-war conditions.
The various methods employed by the national agitators
against the government included: the instigating of Nation­
alist courts whose decisions were, if necessary, carried
out by force; and the economic boycott of imports of
British or other foreign cloths.
In general, there was
among the masses a deep hostility toward the government.
Addressing the Congress, Gandhi said that independence was
within their reach and that it was in their power to organ­
ize their own government.
If the public would refuse to
pay the taxes, the government could be compelled to give
up its military and political s e r v i c e s . H e told the
people that it rested with them whether they would remain
under the flag of the Satan or under the flag of God.
this Congress it was further recommended that the subdivi­
sions of this Congress should gather together foreign
cloths in order to burn them in public demonstrations.
However, Gandhi did not hold together the Indian
National Congress very long.
During the next Congress
which met in December, 1922, there developed a break among
the Nationalists.
One group favored the policy of continu­
ing boycotting the New Legislature in order to discredit it
in the eyes of the people; another group favored the entry
27 International Year Book, loc. cit.
of Indians in the Legislative Council.
By 19£4 Gandhi’s
influence was greatly weakened, as it is shown by the fol­
lowing statement that he made at a meeting of the all
Indian Congress Committee in which he said:
I am not a lunatic. I am a reasonable man. I am
losing ground gradually and would have ho hesitation
in bending before the Swarajists ^home rule party)
and Liberals. If necessary I shall bend before the
English also, if only they show a change o f h e a r t .2 8
To all appearances Gandhi was now completely discredited as
a leader because his non-violence policy became a long cam­
paign of violent recriminations between the followers of
the Hindu and Moslem religions.29
Such were the problems that confronted Lord Reading
when he took office.
Believing in the principle ’’that
justice and kindness have never failed to create friendship
between men of all races,” he first attempted to cope with
the. problems with a kind and lenient
h a n d .8 9
one of his earliest moves was to invite Gandhi to a series
of personal conferences.
In inviting Gandhi for the inter­
view Lord Reading stated:
I am thoroughly satisfied from long experience and
some knowledge of public affairs that it is only by
the interchange of thoughts and by constant communica-
28 Quoted in International Year Book, p. 353, 1924.
2^ Pilcher, op. cit., p. 229.
88 Living Age, 315:23.
tion between members of different races existing under
the same government.and having precisely the same
objectives in view the welfare of India— that we can
arrive at satisfactory results,31
Similar interviews with Mahomed Ali and Shankat Ali
resulted in these leaders issuing a proclamation of regret
that their speeches had incited the people to violence.
They pledged themselves publicly not to repeat this type
of speech as long as they remained associated with Gandhi.
However, although the incitement of violence was stopped
as a result of the interviews, rioting and disorder con­
tinued to take place.
For this was perhaps characteristic
of Gandhi that while constantly avowing his- devotion to a
"non-violent” policy, he continued to preach doctrines
which could ultimately lead only to bloodshed.3^
although Lord Heading was at first lenient in his dealing
with the extremist, he changed his attitude when he saw
that the Indians were taking advantage of it.
I readily admit that we have sought to avoid action
which might either be misconceived or misrepresented,
as too severe or as provocative, but recent events
have made it imperative that the full strength of the
Government should be exerted for the purpose of vin-'
dicating the law and preserving order.33
Furthermore, he learned from the extremist that they were
Street, op. cit., p. 205.
32 London Times, December 31, 1935.
Street, op. cit., p. 239.
reckless, agitators who were careless of the true interest of
India and that their only objective was destruction.
therefore, concluded that the "non-cooperation could be
combated by administrative methods and that the outbreak of
violence could only end by a display of force.
With this
determination he ordered the arrest of hundreds of agitators,
and on-February 9, 1922, he ordered the arrest of Gandhi
Gandhi’s arrest took place March 10, 1922, on the
charge of sedition, and he was sentenced to prison for six
In the course of the trial he made a severe in­
dictment of the British rule in India.
The court in pass­
ing judgement, on the other hand, paid high tribute to the
prisoner’s character.^
Immediately after Gandhi’s convic­
tion the executive committee of the Indian National Congress
called upon the people to exercise self-r.estraint, but to
continue boycotting British made cloth and to continue the
passive resistance policy.
However, with Gandhi’s arrest and imprisonment the
’’non-cooperative” party, left without an able successor to
its former leader, showed increasing signs of disintegra­
In December, 1922, some of the influential members
of the All-India Congress formed a new party which agreed
International Year Book, 1922, p. 350.
to enter into the elections for various provincial and
national assemblies, and by this action they virtually
ceased to be non-cooperators whose fundamental creed was
abstention from participation in any form of governmental
activity whatever. ^
Furthermore, one year later the execu­
tive committee of the Indian Congress approved the stand
of Gandhi himself, abolishing the policy of non-cooperation
and permitting the Swarajists to sit in the legislative
assemblies and to participate in the government in general.^6
The year of 1925 was a comparatively quiet one.
Gandhi announced at the beginning of the year that he had
decided to take a rest for at least a year.
This was inter­
preted as meaning that he was going to retire from politics
and permit the movement to go its own way.
Another task that confronted Lord Reading was put
into operation in a new and highly theoretical constitu­
It was in 1918 that Lord Chelmsford and Montagu drew
up a report which contained recommendations for' the future
government of India. *The•over-centralized government that
existed till then was no more workable, for it was a govern­
ment in which the Indians themselves had practically no
33 International Year Book, 1925, p. 351.
36 Ibid., 1924, p. 353.
3? George Pilcher, "Lord Heading's Indian Viceroyalty,"
The Edinburgh Review, 1926, p. 225.
The report proposed that the administration should
be divided into two parts: (a) The Reserved subjects to be
administered by the governor and his executive council: (b)
the Transferred subjects to be.transferred to ministers
chosen by the governor from among the elected members of
the Legislature.
According to the recommendations of the ChelmsfordMontagu report, Parliament passed a bill on December 23,
1919, which gave the natives a share in the government.38
The bill provided that the legislature.should consist of
two chambers: the Council of State and the Legislative
The Council of State was to have a membership of
sixty of whom only twenty could be officials of the govern­
The Legislative Assembly was to have 144 members of
whom twenty-six were to b e officials and the rest elected.
The term of the’ Council was to be five years and of the
Assembly, three years; but the dissolution might be ordered
sooner or the term might be extended at the wish of the
The Legislature was impowered, subject to cer­
tain restrictions, to make laws throughout British India
for all persons whether native or British, for British sub­
jects in the Native States, and for British Indian subjects
38 Street,
o jd .
cit., p. 198.
39 International Year Book, 1921, p. 343.
in all parts of the world.
This new parliament under the..reform program was/
opened for the first time at Delhi by the Duke of Connaught
on February 8, 1921.
At the same time a permanent Chamber
of Princes was also inaugurated.
Its function concerned the
rights and welfare of about one fifth of the population.
was consultative, not executive, consisting of the making of
recommendations in respect to treaties, the rights and
privileges of the princes and their states.^
It was up to
Lord Heading to put into a successful operation these com­
plicated and novel reforms.
To do this Lord Reading met
many obstacles.
During the first two years of its existence, Parlia­
ment did not function properly.
The work was hampered by
extreme nationalists who sought to block all reforms.
extremists were led by Mahatma Gandhi who- advocated "noncooperation" and boycotting of elections.
At the Indian National*Congress which met at Delhi,
September 15, 1923, it was resolved in accordance with the
wishes of Gandhi that the nationalist should propose candi­
dates for the Legislative Assembly and the provincial
The Home Rule Party in assenting to this designed
International Year Book, 1921, p. 343.
'merely to send their candidates to obstruct the necessary
legislation. 43In the election of the same year for the provincial
council and the Legislative Assembly the extremists, that
is to say those who favored immediate home rule, failed to
obtain a working majority in any of the provinces but ap­
peared to be assured of a sufficiently strong minority to
block desirable reforms.
The result of this was the block­
ing of necessary business legislation.
When the new
Assembly opened in January, 1924, Lord heading, in the
course of his opening address, declared that all attempts
to obstruct Parliamentary procedure would damage the in­
terests of the reformers themselves.
However, the Legis­
lative Assembly had succeeded with the cooperation of the
Moderates in drawing up a set of rules and had established
precedents which it was believed would enable it to with­
stand the attacks of its foes.' As a result of these tac-.
tics on the part of the Moderates, the government succeeded
to pass many of its measures.^2
It-was largely owing to
the Viceroy’s tact and personal popularity that this grave
danger was avoided.
The Moderates among the Nationalist
party knew that in. Lord Heading they had a viceroy whom they
^ International Year Book, 1923.
Street, o j d . cit., p. 280.
.could trust and who was prepared to trust them.43
The. re­
sult was the practical abandonment of the policy of "non­
cooperation. rf Also the Nationalists now decided to fight
for self-government on a constitutional line.
They entered
the legislature and during the.summer of 1924 actually
voted with the government upon a tariff measure.44
Lord Reading’s most conspicuous accomplishment in
India was in the field of finance.
The three years pre­
ceding his arrival in India had been heavy annual deficits
in the Budget.43
The budget on which the government was
operating when Lord Reading arrived in India resulted at
the end of the year of 1921 in a deficit of h 22,000,000
on a gross estimated expenditure of some h 85,000,000.43
Heavy new taxation had been imposed--the vote of the first
Reformed Assembly— a few weeks before Lord Reading’s ar-'
rival, and still heavier taxation was necessitated in the
first budget of Lord Reading’s Viceroyalty in order to meet
yet another prospective deficit amounting to about
h 21,000,000 on the then existing basis of taxation..
Under these financial conditions Lord Reading set
42 Street, o£. cit. , p. 280.
43 Ibid., p. 287.
43 London Times, December 31, 1935,
43 Edinburgh Review, 1926, 233.
himself to' secure a balanced budget on the capacity of the
Indian taxpayer to pay.
One of his earliest and most im­
portant acts in the. financial sphere was the appointment in
1922 of the Inchcape Retrenchment Committee which made a
thorough overhaul of Indian finances and suggested recur­
ring-saving over L 1 2 , 0 0 0 , 0 0 0 . After three years of Lord
Reading’s administration the great bulk of the economies
that had been suggested by the Inchcape committee had been
incorporated in successive budgets.
terminated in.1923.
to 1926.
The era of deficits
Financial progress was made from 1923
This resulted in a steady surplus of from
£ 1,000,000 t o t 5,000,000.
This was accomplished in spite
of the salt tax which had been greatly reduced.
The much
hated cotton excise had been removed at a sacrifice of.
between one to two million sterling.48
Also military ex­
penditure had been reduced some L 38,000,000.
Above; all,
the Viceroyalty of Lord Reading had brought India nearer to- ‘
a sound practice in railway outlay and administration than
at any other time in her previous history.
However, these
economic improvements were made possible not only by Lord
Reading’s sound financial policies, but also by the good
fortune of excellent crops that India enjoyed during his
47 Ibid., p. 334.
48 London Times. December 31, 1935.
In his speech at Bombay on his first arrival in India
Lord Heading declared that he had set out hopefully upon an
arduous task because "all his experience of human beings
and human affairs had convinced him that justice and sym­
pathy never failed to evoke responsive chords in the hearts
of men of whatever race, creed, or class."
Throughout his
term of office in India, Lord Heading was as good as his
His policy throughout observed a scrupulous regard
for legality.
The earliest evidence of Lord Readingrs
determination in this matter was the resignation in July,
1921, of a powerful member of his Viceroyal Council, fol­
lowing a disclosure in court showing that instructions had
been received nominally from the Government of India to
withdraw a case against two Bengali merchants charged with
delinquency in the supply of munitions.
The author of the
instructions' proved to be-the Commerce Member who had not
conculted the Viceroy, Lord Heading, and the said member
parted company without further, ado and India afforded im­
pressive evidence of a sterner interpretation of the spirit
of British justice.^9
During his administration a factory act was passed
and went into effect in 1922, limiting the hours of employ-
inburgh Review, 1922, p. 237.
ment to sixty in any one week and to eleven in any one day.
A six-day week was instituted and further restrictions placed
on the employment of women and c h i l d r e n . L o r d Reading
consented to a restrictive hut very definite experiment in
the Indianisation of a selected group of cavalry and in­
fantry units.
He also had warmly approved a campaign for
elimination of the scourge of leprosy from India by new
curative methods.51
Lord Reading’s term of office had been prolific with
inquiries into problems affecting the welfare of the people
of India*.
At the suggestion of the Assembly in inquiry was
ordered into the working of the Montagu-Chelmfor reforms.
The status of the North-West frontier provinces was simi-.
larly examined.
A preliminary inquiry into'the bases of
the system of Indian taxation was yet another subject of
The Edinburgh Review stated:
In.every case these inquiries were the suggestion
of Indian sponsors; in assenting to the inquiries Lord
Reading showed his desire to govern, as far as pos­
sible, in full accord with advanced Indian opinion.
Many examples’are available of Indian demands which had
long been resisted on the score of economy, or of their
conflict with British standards and conceptions, but
which were conceded during Lord Reading’s regime on the
principle of respect for the will of the governed.52
International Year Book.
Edinburgh Review, 1926, p. 239.
52 Loc. cit.
On March 26-,1926, -Lord Reading’s term expired.
referring to it':the London Times said:
It is a fact,that at the end of Lord Reading’s term
of office the condition of India was better, more
prosperous, and more peaceful than five years earlier
the most sanguine prophet could have predicted.53
He had succeeded in introducing the elements of selfgovernment in most of the.provinces and established, mainly
by the force of his own personality, almost friendly rela­
tions between the parties in the Central Legislature.
menace of the non-cooperation was at an end, and the strug-*
gle between Indian aspirations and British caution had
entered upon the constitutional phase.
Lord Reading de­
clared that he had striven after many things: economic
prosperity, the advance of India to a new status and dig­
nity, and the encouragement of India to build her own
responsible government within the community of nations
which form the British Empire.
In a speech prior to leaving India Lord Reading con­
Peace reigns in our borders. International distur­
bances have been set at rest: law and order have been
vindicated and established; the financial.situation has
been stabilized, with beneficial reaction on the nationbuilding activities of the reformed constitution.54
With these words Lord Reading laid down the burden of office
as Viceroy of India.
London Times. December 12, 1935.
Street, o£. cit., p. 284.
Lord Reading was born in London on October 10, 1860.
He was then known as Rufus Daniel Isaacs,
He found early
school life unimportant, and was thus inclined to seek
other interests.
Fired with imagination and the lust for
adventure, he sailed the seas in search for new diversions
and excitement.
In his early twenties he-became a member of the
Stock Exchange.
Ambition, however, stirred him on to seek
a better position.
Law was one of them.
He visioned new fields of conquest.
His interest in this profession was
heightened by the encouragement given him by his friend,
Miss Alice Cohen, whom he later married.
'At twenty-seven
he possessed the necessary qualities for a successful career
at. the-Bar.
Steadily'he' made-his way to the top; first,
assuming the position as Queen1s Counsel; then making his
way to, Parliament .as a member of the Liberal Party.
Parliament he advocated many reforms in foreign and dom­
estic affairs.
The value of his judgment and of his
opinion were fully known and appreciated.
In 1910 the King was pleased to confer the honor
of Knighthood upon Rufus Isaacs.
by the office of Attorney General.
This honor was followed
In this position he
continued to fight for the policies of his party.
In 1913,
upon the death of Lord Alverstone, Isaacs became Lord Chief
His appointment to this position was in recogni­
tion of his legal abilities rather than as the reward of a
Cabinet Minister.
In January, 1914, he was created a-baron
and took the title of Lord Reading.
During the short time
that he was able to devote to the duties of Lord Chief
Justice, he exhibited all the high qualities which tradi­
tion and experience had led the world to expect in a British
At the outbreak of the World War men of all positions
and all shades of political opinion placed their services at
the disposal of their country. .At such a time it was in­
evitable that the government should turn once more to the
man by whose wisdom they had often profited.
The shaping
of the financial policy which saved Great Britain from
economic catastrophe at the beginning of the war was due
in no small measure to Lord Reading.
As the war dragged on it became increasingly evident
that the Allies could not rely upon their own financial re­
sources to bring about a successful conclusion.
As a result
Lord Reading assumed the position as Envoy and Ambassador to
the United States, and immediately sailed to negotiate a
loan In which his attempts were successful.
After he
accomplished his mission he- returned to England to resume
his brilliant career in the English Courts of Justice.
Following the war Britain had trouble with the Indian
India had been profoundly affected by the war.
spite of British efforts to solve her affairs, things in
India went from bad to worse.
In 1921 it was announced that
Lord Reading was to succeed Viceroy Chelmsford, whose term
had expired.
Lord Reading went to India with the spirit of uphold­
ing the traditions of the British Courts of Justice.
confronted-with many problems when he took office.
He was
ing in the principle "that justice and kindness have never
failed to create friendship between men of all races,tf he
first attempted to cope with the problems with a kind and
lenient hand.
When it appeared that they were taking ad­
vantage of his leniency, he changed his attitude in dealing
with the natives.
Lord Reading*s most conspicuous accomplishment was
in the field of finance.
He set himself to secure a bal­
anced budget on the Indian tax-payer*s capacity to pay.
Act after act was passed benefitting populace of India.
On March 26, 1926, he.completed his term of office
in India.
During the period in which he had served as
Viceroy there, conditions had taken a turn for the better;
the country was assuming a more prosperous and peaceful
pattern than had existed previous to his Viceroyalty..
his work was complete.
Having laid aside his position as
Viceroy of India, he returned to. England to rece.ive the
applause of his countrymen.
In an attempt to summarize the qualities that en­
abled Lord Heading to gain the praises of a nation and of a
world, one finds that as a thinker Lord Reading was great.
His thought, coming as it did from a man of great, intel­
lectual power and large experience of life, had value.
was one who fearlessly penetrated the heart of things; and
was, therefore, original in the true sense.
He spoke with
He had rare industry and considerable organiz­
ing power.
He had, too, the true statesman’s gift of
leadership and inspiration.
And above all, Lord Heading
bore the stamp of pure sincerity— he was gentle, affection­
ate, a friend and counsellor, and an inspiration to those
who knew' him.
His was a large and loving view of life.
Lord Reading’s love for his country proved that his
essential" greatness lay in his activity.
He gave to one
long, selfless service for the good of men.
In the last
analysis he valued sacrifice and duty above everything
For this he will remain in the hearts of his country­
men and throughout the world as a champion’ of liberty and
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