Snowden, Philip Snowden, 1st Viscount

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Snowden, Philip Snowden, 1st Viscount

Philip Snowden Snowden, 1st Viscount (snō´dən), 1864–1937, British statesman. Born to poverty, he was a civil service clerk until crippled by a spinal ailment. Resigning in 1893, he began to work for the Independent Labour party (ILP). He was twice (1903–6, 1917–20) chairman of the party, but resigned in 1927 in favor of the Labour party proper as a protest against what he considered the revolutionary tendencies of the ILP. He belonged to the pacifist minority of the socialist group during World War I. Snowden served in the House of Commons from 1906 to 1918 and from 1922 until 1931. As an acknowledged specialist in finance, he became chancellor of the exchequer in the Labour ministries formed by Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929. He won popularity by his refusal to accept a reduction in the British share of German reparations in the Young Plan (1929). However, his rigidly orthodox financial measures, including the maintenance of free trade and balanced budgets, were insufficient to stem the growing economic depression. Snowden remained chancellor in the national government of 1931 and announced (1931) the suspension of the gold standard. Created Viscount Snowden of Ickornshaw in 1931, he served (1931–32) as lord privy seal but resigned when free trade was abandoned.

See his autobiography (1934); biography by K. Laybourne (1988).

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