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Benjamin Disraeli

russia minister prime british

Disraeli, Benjamin, 1st earl of Beaconsfield (1804–81), British Conservative statesman, prime minister 1868 and 1874–80. Baptized a Christian, Disraeli was the first British prime minister of Jewish ancestry. A member of Parliament from 1837, he was chancellor of the exchequer 1852, 1858–59, and 1866–68. His influence was crucial in the passing of the 1867 Reform Bill, which enfranchised some 2 million working-class voters. His brief first ministry ended when the Liberals under William Gladstone won the 1868 elections. His second period of office included domestic reforms: slum clearance, public-health reform, and improvement of working conditions. Abroad, Disraeli fought imperial wars, bought control of the Suez Canal (1875), had Queen Victoria proclaimed Empress of India (1876), and annexed the Transvaal (1877). In the confrontation between Russia and Turkey (1877–78), he forced concessions on Russia in the Congress of Berlin. A prolific writer, he published many books, notably the novels Coningsby (1844) and Sybil (1845), both on social and political themes.

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