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Lansdowne, Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 5th marquis of

Lansdowne, Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 5th marquis of (1845–1927). A Liberal politician, Lansdowne resigned from Gladstone's government over Irish land reform in 1880. After serving as governor-general of Canada and viceroy of India, he joined Salisbury's 1895 cabinet. As foreign secretary from 1900, he did much to satisfy those who believed that Britain could no longer afford the so-called policy of ‘splendid isolation’. In 1901 he resolved Britain's outstanding disputes with the USA. An alliance with Japan followed in 1902. His effort to negotiate with Germany in 1903 over the Berlin–Baghdad railway was thwarted by Joseph Chamberlain, but an entente with France in 1904 resolved various imperial differences—notably over Morocco and Egypt. Although he stood firmly with the French in the Moroccan crisis of 1905, he hoped that this was no more than a temporary rift with Germany. As leader of the Unionist peers from 1903 to 1916, he was much criticized for his conduct in opposition to Asquith's Liberal government. Initially a strong supporter of the war against Germany, he wrote a highly controversial letter to the Daily Telegraph in November 1917 putting the case for a compromise peace.

C. J. Bartlett

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