Liverpool, Charles Banks Jenkinson, Second Earl of
(1770–1828)
   Lord Liverpool was prime minister of Great Britain from 1812 until 1827. Remembered as a stern and unbending Tory - “the arch-mediocrity” in Benjamin Disraeli ’s inaccurate epithet - and often associated with the Peterloo massacre and the Six Acts of 1819, he also skillfully managed the closing years of the Napoleonic Wars, the rapid rapprochement with France in their aftermath, and the economic liberalization of the 1820s. Descended from minor gentry who had become prosperous East India merchants - “nabobs” in the parlance of the day - Jenkinson was educated at Charterhouse and Christ Church, Oxford.
   Jenkinson entered Parliament for a pocket-borough on leaving Oxford and rapidly rose in prominence, serving on the Board of Control for India. He also visited Europe to observe the armies and served actively in the militia. In 1796, his father was created earl of Liverpool, from which time Jenkinson was known by the courtesy title of Hawkesbury. Under that name he became foreign secretary in the government of Henry Addington, in which post he was responsible for the negotiations leading to the peace of Amiens, an achievement that did his future prospects little good.
   He served as home secretary in William Pitt ’s last administration and also under the duke of Portland from 1807–1809. When Portland’s ministry was replaced by that of Perceval in 1809, Liverpool, as he had then become, became secretary for war. As secretary for war, he steadfastly supported the duke of Wellington’s initially unpopular peninsular campaign. Liverpool became prime minister after the assassination of Perceval in 1812. As premier, he revoked the orders-in-council, which had provoked war with the United States, but his move came too late to prevent war. In the European diplomacy of 1814 and 1815, his chief concern was to secure the independence of weaker nations while avoiding a Carthaginian peace with France. Social unrest following the peace, however, provoked repressive legislation, which further damaged the government’s popularity.
   Intellectually convinced of the arguments for free trade, it had nevertheless been Liverpool’s government, which initially brought in the Corn Laws. In the growing prosperity of the 1820s, his government, with William Huskisson at the Board of Trade, began to simplify and lower tariffs, especially on primary products. Liverpool suffered a stroke and retired in 1827 and died the next year. Liverpool was distinguished more by industry and commonsense than by ostentation, a fact that perhaps explains why he - who after all served as prime minister for a period equaled only by Pitt and Walpole - has suffered in reputation by comparison with more flamboyant contemporaries like George Canning, Pitt, and Lord Castlereagh. In securing a lasting European peace in 1815, his government established the con-428 Liverpool, Charles Banks Jenkinson, Second Earl of ditions for Britain’s prosperity and imperial expansion later in the century.
   See also <>; <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Gash, Norman. Lord Liverpool. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1984.
   MARK F. PROUDMAN

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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