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Edwin Samuel Montagu PC (6 February, 1879 – 15 November, 1924) was a Britishmarker-Jewish Liberal politician. He notably served as Secretary of State for India between 1917 and 1922.

Background and education

Montagu was the second son and seventh child of Samuel Montagu, 1st Baron Swaythling, by his wife Ellen, daughter of Louis Cohen. He was educated at Clifton Collegemarker, the City of London Schoolmarker, University College Londonmarker and Trinity College, Cambridgemarker.

Political career

Montagu was elected Member of Parliament for Chesterton in 1906, a seat he held until 1918, and then represented Cambridgeshire until 1922. He served under H. H. Asquith as Under-Secretary of State for India from 1910 to 1914, as Financial Secretary to the Treasury from 1914 to 1915 and again from 1915 to 1916 and as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (with a seat in the cabinet) in 1915 and 1916. In 1915 he was sworn of the Privy Council. In 1916 he was promoted to Minister of Munitions. He was initially left out of David Lloyd George's coalition government, but in 1917 he was appointed Secretary of State for India, which he remained until March 1922, when he resigned. He was primarily responsible for the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms which led to the Government of India Act 1919 which committed the British to the eventual evolution of Indiamarker to dominion status.

Montagu led the Indianmarker delegation at the Paris Peace Conference, where he opposed plans for dividing Turkeymarker (including the Greekmarker occupation of Smyrnamarker and the projected removal of the Sultan from Constantinoplemarker). On this subject, at the Council of Four on 17 May 1919, he introduced representatives of Muslim India (including the Aga Khan) and urged that Muslim peoples were beginning to see the Conference as "taking sides against Islam".

Zionism

Montagu was the second Jew to enter the British Cabinet. However, he was strongly opposed to Zionism, which he called "a mischievous political creed", and opposed the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which he considered "anti-semitic" and whose terms he managed to modify. In a memo to the cabinet, he outlined his views on Zionism thus: "...I assume that it means that Mahommedans and Christians are to make way for the Jews and that the Jews should be put in all positions of preference and should be peculiarly associated with Palestine in the same way that England is with the English or France with the French, that Turks and other Mahommedans in Palestine will be regarded as foreigners, just in the same way as Jews will hereafter be treated as foreigners in every country but Palestine. Perhaps also citizenship must be granted only as a result of a religious test." He was opposed by his cousin Herbert Samuel, a moderate Zionist who became the first High Commissioner of Palestine.

Family

Montagu married the Hon. Venetia Stanley, daughter of Edward Stanley, 4th Baron Stanley of Alderley, in 1915. She converted to Judaism upon her marriage. They had one daughter, Judith. Montagu died in November 1924 at the age of 45. His wife died in August 1948, aged 60.

References

  1. The Deliberations of the Council of Four: notes of the official interpreter Paul Mantoux tr. A. S. Link (Princeton, 1992) vol. 2 p. 99.


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