Top: Jewish Occupied Governments: United Kingdom

Top: Jewish Occupied Governments: United Kingdom

Benjamin Disraeli, P.M. 1874-1880

BENJAMIN DISRAELI (1804-1880) (nicknamed “Dizzy”) was an English statesman from 1837 to 1880. He was Prime Minister of England in 1868, and again from 1874 to 1880. He was England’s first Jewish Prime Minister. When he was young, his father had a severe argument with his synagogue, and, as a result, baptized his children as Christians. If he hadn’t been baptized, his career would have been very different (Jews were not allowed in Parliament until 1858).

His early life was a series of failures. In 1824 he lost all of his money in South African mining shares, and didn’t get out of debt until middle age. He became a novelist like his father (he wrote many books throughout his life) and then decided in 1831 to enter politics. He lost as an independent radical in both 1832 and 1835, and decided he needed to affiliate himself with a political party.
He finally won a seat in the House of Commons in 1837 as a Conservative. His first speech was so pompous and poorly delivered that he was shouted at and forced to sit down. He uttered this famous quote: “I will sit down now, but the time will come when you will hear me.” He was right; in 1846, when the Liberals repealed the Corn Laws (protective tariffs on foreign grain), he became the leader of the opposition in the House of Commons. Then he became the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He was Prime Minister for a very short time during 1868, then resigned when the Liberals won the elections.