- Haldane, Richard Burdon
- (1856–1928)Richard Haldane was a British Liberal imperialist in the 1890s and a supporter of the Boer War. He is remembered for his army reforms of 1907, which created the British Territorial Army reserve system still in use, a system that served Britain well in the World Wars. Haldane was born into a Scottish Calvinist family, although like many young men of his generation he developed religious doubts. Educated at the Universities of Edinburgh and Göttingen, he was called to the bar in 1879. Haldane was known throughout his life for his philosophic temperament. Henry Campbell-Bannerman, with whom he periodically crossed swords politically, referred to Haldane as “Schopenhauer.” Haldane was involved in the founding of the London School of Economics in 1895 and in higher education reform.He was first elected to Parliament as a Gladstonian Liberal in 1886, along with his friend H. H. Asquith. Haldane had friends across the political spectrum, ranging from the Webbs to A. J. Balfour, but as a Liberal imperialist he supported, along with Asquith and Lord Rosebery, a strong stance against France in the Fashoda Incident of 1898. With other Liberal imperialists, he also broke rank with the Liberal Party leader Campbell-Bannerman, supporting the Conservative government’s policy at the outbreak of the Second Boer War in 1899.Haldane initially opposed Campbell-Bannerman’s accession to the premiership in 1905, thinking the latter too anti-imperial, but he went to the War Office in his government. He became an active reformer and succeeded in gaining the wholehearted cooperation of the army staff. He was responsible for founding the Officers’ Training Corps, which drew many educated young men into the army; the Territorial Army, effectively the army reserves; and the Imperial General Staff. He took relatively little part, owing to ill health, in the passing of the Parliament Act of 1911, but went to the Lords in that year and in 1912 became Lord Chancellor. He briefly returned to the War Office during the crisis of August 1914, and left office for the last time in May 1915. Although attacked for his philo-Germanic leanings by the Tory press, in fact his work at the War Office was a solid contribution to the British cause in the World Wars.See also <
>; < >.FURTHER READING:Koss, S. E. Lord Haldane: Scapegoat for Liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press, 1969;Matthew, H.C.G. The Liberal Imperialists. Oxford: University Press, 1973;Maurice, F. B. Haldane: The Life of Viscount Haldane of Cloan. 2 vols. London: Faber, 1937–1939.MARK F. PROUDMAN
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.