Benjamin Disraeli was born on the 21st of December 1804. He was twice elected as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Besides, he was a novelist, too. Disraeli is identified as the only British Prime Minister of Jewish descent.
He is remembered as someone who played a significant role in forming the modern Conservative Party in Britain. He spent thirty-seven years of his life in the field of politics before finally becoming the Prime Minister for the first time.
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Formative Years of Disraeli
Benjamin Disraeli was born in Bloomsbury in London. He had 4 siblings; one sister, Sarah, and three brothers, James, Naphtali, and Ralph. He was closer to his sister than to his brothers. His family followed Judaism however when Benjamin was 12, he and his siblings were baptised by their father, who was a historian as well as a literary critic. The conversion allowed him to pursue a career as a politician as it was mandatory for the Members of Parliament to have a minimal conversion to Christianity.
His education was strictly classical at Dame School. He wished to go to Winchester College as they provided staffs to political leaders. Although he did not get a chance to study at WC, at the age of seventeen, he was hired as a clerk by an organization of barristers. His service there was satisfactory albeit he was not particularly fond of his job.
Disraeli commenced his political career in 1831. Initially, he contested the elections individually but failed to get elected twice. Later, he decided to join a party to increase his chances of winning. He united with the Conservative Party and contested the elections in 1835, however, lost again. In 1837, he tried yet again and finally won. He secured a place in the House of Commons and delivered a speech in the British Parliament following the victory.
The then Prime Minister Robert Peel refused to offer Benjamin Disraeli a place in the cabinet ministry, which led Disraeli to revolt against Peel. The revolt sustained until Peel decided to quit from his post in 1846, after a few years of the criticism.
In 1847, Disraeli contested from Buckinghamshire and got appointed as one of the members of parliament. Following this, he emerged as one of the most influential men of Britain. Subsequent to his decision of making it legally possible for Jewish to participate in administrative functions, in 1868, Disraeli became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He held the office for less than 10 months before the Conservatives fell from power and the Liberals took over. He continued as a member of the opposition party, nevertheless.
In 1874, he got appointed as the Prime Minister once again and this time he successfully held the office for nearly 6 years. It was then that he made numerous new laws for the betterment of his country.
It was his work and leadership skills at the Conservative Party that made Queen Victoria give him the title of the Earl of Beaconsfield. Following this, he also got a place in the House of Lords. His work not only influenced his followers but also his rivals. This explains why his political rival, William Gladstone, suggested building a statue in his honour, shortly after his death.
Disraeli published around 28 literary pieces in the course of his life where Endymion marks his final work. While 20 of those novels are fiction, 8 are inspired by true events (non-fiction.) Most of his political views can be derived from his novels.
Although he shared a romantic relationship with Lord Lyndhurst’s wife, Henrietta Skyes, Disraeli did not marry her. She, however, became an inspiration to one of his books Henrietta Temple. He married Mary Anne Lewis in 1839, a woman who was 12 years older than him. She was a widow and despite the rumours that stated that Benjamin married Mary for her wealth, it has been acknowledged that they both truly cared for each other.
Disraeli fell prey to Asthma and Gout after publishing his final work Endymion. His condition worsened and he took his final breath in 1881. His death not only disturbed the commoners but also the royalty of Britain. Queen Victoria wished to attend his funeral but she could not because of the prevailing tradition of women not attending funerals, in those days. However, she did provide aide to his family. His life work also inspired a 1929 feature film titled ‘Disraeli,’ which gained so much success that the actor who played Benjamin received an Academy Award for his performance.
Benjamin Disraeli’ Quote
Benjamin Disraeli’s quote, “When men are pure, laws are useless; when men are corrupt, laws are broken,” still holds significance in political, historical, ethical, and philosophical fields across the world.