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Reading, Rufus Daniel Isaacs, 1st marquess of

Rufus Daniel Isaacs Reading, 1st marquess of (rĕd´Ĭng), 1860–1935, British statesman. Called to the bar in 1887, he achieved great success in his profession. He entered Parliament as a Liberal in 1904, became attorney general in 1910, and in 1912 was given a seat in the cabinet. Involved in charges of buying stock in the American Marconi Corp. while the government was contracting with the British branch of the firm, he was, however, exonerated and in 1913 was created lord chief justice. During World War I he served the government in financial operations, becoming (1915) president of an Anglo-French loan commission to the United States, where he subsequently served as special envoy (1917) and special ambassador (1918–19). In 1921 he was made viceroy of India at a time when the people, partly under the influence of Mohandas Gandhi and partly as a result of the massacre at Amritsar (1919), were roused against British rule. Faced with the passive resistance of the Gandhi adherents, Isaacs authorized the imprisonment of Gandhi and felt compelled to allow the hated salt tax. He returned to England in 1926 and was created a marquess (having already been created in succession baron, viscount, and earl), but he was much criticized for his administrative acts in India. He was (1931) foreign secretary in Ramsay MacDonald's National government.

See biographies by his son G. R. Isaacs, 2d marquess of Reading (2 vol., 1943–45), H. M. Hyde (1967), and D. Judd (1982).

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Reading, Rufus David Isaacs, 1st marquis of

Reading, Rufus David Isaacs, 1st marquis of (1860–1935). After a bumpy start, Isaacs had an unusually varied and distinguished career. The son of a Jewish fruit merchant from the East End of London, he left school at 14 to join the family business. He next turned to stockbroking but was ‘hammered’ in 1884. His third start was reading law. He was called to the bar in 1887 and quickly established himself. Entering Parliament as a Liberal for Reading in 1904, he was solicitor-general by 1910 and attorney-general the following year. Though singed in the Marconi scandal of 1912, he was appointed lord chief justice in 1913 and given a barony. After successfully negotiating a government loan from America, he was promoted viscount in 1916 and earl in 1917. Next, from January 1918 until 1919 he was ambassador to the USA at a critical time of the war. Reading resumed his legal career, but in 1921 was sent to India as viceroy, remaining there during a tense period until 1926. His third promotion in the peerage came on leaving office. Even then he was not finished and crowned his remarkable performance by acting from August to November 1931 as foreign secretary while the National Government was being formed.

J. A. Cannon

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