James Keir Hardie (1856-1915)
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James Keir Hardie (1856-1915)

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I am of that unfortunate class who never knew what it was to be a child in spirit. Even the memories of boyhood and young manhood are gloomy.
himself, in Kenneth O. Morgan, Keir Hardie.

Additional Information on
James Keir Hardie (1856-1915)

James Keir Hardie was brought up in a Lanarkshire coal mining district, and his step father was an early trade unionist. As a result, he began to work at the age of seven or eight, becoming a coal miner by the time he was ten. After being dismissed in 1878 he began fighting for miners' rights which led to his appointment as the Secretary of the Scottish Miners' Federation in 1886. He earned his living as a journalist, publishing his own newspapers, The Miner and The Labour Leader, expressing his Socialist views.

In 1888 he was elected as Chairman of the Scottish Labour Party, but was defeated in his attempt to be elected to the House of Commons. However, in 1892 he was successful and following this he participated in the founding of the Independent Labour Party, becoming its Chairman in 1893 (until 1900). In 1900 Keir Hardie and other representatives formed the Labour Representation Committee, the forerunner to the Labour Party we know today, and he was elected as Chairman. As World War I seemed imminent, Hardie was primarily concerned with trying to maintain peace for England. However, the majority of the Labour party supported the war and so this conflict caused him to withdraw from political life. Hardie urged workers to strike in protest, and although in ill-health, he participated in several anti-war demonstrations. He died in 1915 at the age of fifty-nine.


Defeat is not in the Socialist Dictionary.
- On himself.

[He] deliberately chooses this policy as the only one he can boss. His only chance of leadership lies in the creation of an organisation 'agin the Government'; he knows little and cares less for any constructive thought or action.
- Beatrice Webb, in Kitty Muggeridge and Ruth Adam, 'Beatrice Webb: A Life'.

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