Gordon

Gordon

[gawr-dn]
Parks, Gordon (Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks), 1912-2006, African-American photographer, filmmaker, writer, and composer, b. Fort Scott, Kans. Parks purchased his first camera in 1938 and became a photographer for the Farm Security Administration in 1942. A largely self-taught trailblazer, he was the first African American photographer at Vogue (1944-49) and on the staff at Life (1948-72). A powerful photojournalist, he specialized in hard-hitting studies of poverty and urban black life, but he also produced elegant fashion photography and arresting portraiture. From the 1960s on he wrote novels, memoirs, poems, and screenplays, and in 1964 directed the first of seven motion pictures. Parks was the first black to write, produce, direct, and score a major Hollywood film—The Learning Tree (1969), adapted from his 1963 coming-of-age novel. His blockbuster Shaft (1971) marked the debut of the African-American action hero. Parks also composed orchestral works and a ballet (1989), and was cofounder and editorial director (1970-73) of Essence magazine.

See his memoirs (1966, 1979, 1990, 1997, 2005).

Brown, Gordon (James Gordon Brown), 1951-, British politician. From 1975 to 1980 he taught at Edinburgh Univ. and Glasgow College of Technology; he then joined Scottish Television (1980-83) as a journalist. He ran unsuccessfully for Parliament in 1979 but won a seat in 1983. As a Labour party member (1983-97) under the Conservative government, he held major opposition posts on trade and economic affairs and, with Tony Blair, sought to modernize Labour and broaden its political appeal. A potential challenger for leadership of the party in 1994, he stepped aside in favor of Blair, and in 1997, after Labour's electoral victory, Brown became chancellor of the exchequer under Blair; his appointment to the post was widely believed to have been the result of a 1994 deal between Blair and Brown. One of Brown's early actions was to give the Bank of England the power to set short-term interest rates, a power previous Labour and Conservative governments had reserved for themselves. Brown also took a tough stance on government spending, earning a reputation as the "iron chancellor," and established economic criteria for Britain's adopting the euro that helped undermine the prime minister's push to do so. When Blair stepped down as Labour party leader and prime minister in June, 2007, Brown, who had become the longest serving chancellor in modern times, succeeded him in both offices. During the 2008 global financial crisis, Brown's government was the first to attempt to stabilize financial institutions by recapitalizing them with government money. Brown has written several books, including a biography (1986) of the socialist parliamentarian James Maxton, Where There Is Greed: Margaret Thatcher and the Betrayal of Britain's Future (1989), and Fair is Efficient: A Socialist Agenda for Fairness (1994).
Bottomley, Gordon, 1874-1948, English poet and dramatist, b. Yorkshire. His major artistic efforts were directed at reviving verse drama in English. Among his plays are The Crier by Night (1902), The Riding To Lithend (1909), King Lear's Wife (1915), and Gruach (1921); the latter two are "prefaces" to the action of Lear and Macbeth respectively. His volumes of poetry include A Vision of Giorgione (1910).
Richards, Gordon, 1904-86, British jockey. He began as a stable apprentice in 1919. From the mid-1920s until his retirement in 1954, he was the championship jockey of England 26 times. In 1943 he became the all-time British winner, surpassing Fred Archer's record of 2,749 wins; in all he won 4,870 races. Richards was a horse trainer from 1955 to 1970, after which he became a racing manager. He was the first jockey ever to be knighted.
Bunshaft, Gordon, 1909-90, American architect, b. Buffalo, N.Y. As chief designer for the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Bunshaft was responsible for Lever House, New York City's first glass curtain-wall skyscraper (1952), which has been widely imitated. Among his other works are the Manufacturers Trust Company building on Fifth Ave. at 43d St. in Manhattan, New York City; a complex of buildings near Hartford for the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company; the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; and the Banque Lambert, Brussels (1965).
Gordon, Adam Lindsay, 1833-70, Australian poet, b. the Azores. In 1853 he went to South Australia, where he joined the mounted police and later became famous as a steeplechase rider and horse owner. His works include Sea Spray and Smoke Drift (1867), Ashtaroth (1867), and the vigorous Bush Ballads and Galloping Rhymes (1870). Depressed by debts, he committed suicide at 36. His collected poems were published in 1912.
Gordon, Bruce S., 1946-, African-American business executive and civil-rights leader, b. Camden, N.J.; grad. Gettysburg College (B.A., 1968), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.S., 1988). Gordon entered the telecommunications industry as a management trainee with Bell of Pennsylvania in 1968 and retired from the business in 2003 as a senior executive with Verizon. In 2005 he was appointed president and chief executive officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The first business executive to head the organization, he pledged to press for greater economic equality for African Americans, but differences with the NAACP's board over the role the organization should play led Gordon to resign in 2007.
Gordon, Charles George, 1833-85, British soldier and administrator. He served in the Crimean War, went to China in the expedition of 1860, taking part in the capture of Beijing, and in 1863 took over the command of F. T. Ward, who had raised a Chinese army to suppress the Taiping Rebellion. For the achievements of this Ever-Victorious Army he was popularly known as Chinese Gordon. In 1873 he entered the service of the khedive of Egypt, succeeding Sir Samuel Baker as governor of Equatoria (S Sudan). Appointed governor of Sudan in 1877, he waged a vigorous campaign against slave traders. He resigned in 1879, but after various appointments in India, China, Mauritius, and Cape Colony (South Africa), he was sent back to Sudan, where Muhammad Ahmad (see under Mahdi) had acquired control. Although under orders to evacuate the Egyptian garrison from Khartoum, Gordon took it upon himself to attempt to defeat the Mahdi. He was cut off and besieged at Khartoum for 10 months. A relief expedition belatedly dispatched from England reached the garrison two days after it had been stormed by the Mahdists, who killed Gordon. Gordon's death stirred public indignation and contributed to the collapse of the Gladstone government in 1885.

See Gordon's journals at Khartoum (1885, repr. 1969); studies by P. Charrier (1965), A. Nutting (1966), J. Marlowe (1969), and C. Trench (1979).

Gordon, Charles William, pseud. Ralph Connor, 1860-1937, Canadian clergyman and novelist. His popular stories were based on his experience as a Presbyterian missionary in the lumber and mining camps of the Canadian Northwest. Of the long list of his somewhat didactic and romantic novels, the most widely read are The Sky Pilot (1899) and The Man from Glengarry (1901).

See his autobiography, Postscript to Adventure (1938).

Gordon, George, earl of Huntly: see Huntly.
Gordon, Lord George, 1751-93, English agitator, whose activities resulted in the tragic Gordon riots of 1780 in London. In 1779, Gordon assumed leadership of the Protestant Association, an organization formed to secure repeal of the Catholic Relief Act of 1778 (see Catholic Emancipation). On June 2, 1780, he led a huge crowd to present a petition to Parliament, and the demonstration rapidly turned into an orgy of destruction and plunder that lasted a week. The jails were broken open, and probably more than 800 people were killed and injured. Some 21 rioters were executed, but Gordon was acquitted through the efforts of his lawyer, Thomas Erskine. Dickens vividly described the riots in Barnaby Rudge.
Gordon, Jeff (Jeffery Michael Gordon). 1971-, American auto racer, b. Vallejo, Calif. The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing's (NASCAR) Rookie of the Year in 1993, "The Kid" became the youngest winner of NASCAR's Winston Cup in 1995. He repeated his Winston Cup success in 1997, 1998, and 2001, and in 1998 also won 13 races, tying the record held by Richard Petty. He has more than 80 career Cup victories. Although his telegenic looks and easy embrace of the national media led many to tout him as representing a new era in what had been a traditionally regional sport, many long-time NASCAR fans found his seeming lack of grit unappealing.
Gordon, John Brown, 1832-1904, U.S. public official and Confederate general, b. Upson co., Ga. Gordon began his Civil War service as an infantry captain and so distinguished himself through four years of campaigning in the Virginia area that at Lee's surrender he was a lieutenant general commanding a corps. His fighting in the Wilderness campaign and in the Shenandoah Valley under J. A. Early in 1864 was particularly brilliant. After the war he became an outstanding leader in Georgia politics. With Alfred H. Colquitt and Joseph E. Brown, he dominated the state government for many years. He was U.S. Senator (1873-80, 1891-97) and governor (1886-90). Despite charges that he mixed politics and railroad affairs, he remained the idol of his state.

See his Reminiscences of the Civil War (1903); D. S. Freeman, Lee's Lieutenants (3 vol., 1942-44); biography by J. B. Gordon (1955).

Gordon, Judah Leon, 1830-92, Russian-Hebrew novelist and poet, b. Vilna. As teacher and writer he was one of the leaders in the renaissance of a progressive culture among the Jews (see Haskalah) and he was an indefatigable foe of obscurantism. His historical poems were followed by satirical works attacking the severity of traditional Judaism. He wrote in incomparable classical Hebrew, and in Russian, Yiddish, and German as well. A complete edition of his works was published (1928-35) in Tel Aviv.
Gordon, Patrick, 1635-99, Scottish soldier of fortune and Russian general, b. Scotland. After serving alternately on both sides in the war between Sweden and Poland (1655-60), he entered the Russian army (1661) and later became the devoted friend of the youthful czar Peter I (Peter the Great). The greatest service he rendered Peter was his aid (1689) in thwarting the coup by Peter's half sister, the regent Sophia Alekseyevna, who wished to become ruler in her own right. Excerpts from Gordon's diary were published in 1859.
Gordon, Ruth, 1896-1985, American actress and playwright, b. Wollaston, Mass. From her debut as Nibs in Peter Pan (1915), Gordon's career encompassed broad stage and film experience. Among the plays she wrote are Over Twenty-One, Years Ago, and The Leading Lady. She and her husband, the playwright and director Garson Kanin, collaborated on many successful screenplays, including A Double Life (1948), Adam's Rib (1949), and Pat and Mike (1952). Gordon won an Academy Award for her performance in Rosemary's Baby (1968). In 1971, she starred in the black comedy classic Harold and Maude. In 1974 she appeared in the play Dreyfus in Rehearsal.

See her autobiography, Myself Among Others (1971).

Gordon, river in W Tasmania, Australia, 125 mi (200 km) long. Flowing from mountains to the W coast, its main tributaries are the Franklin and Denison from the N, and Serpentine and Olga to the S. In the 1980s it was the site of controversial proposals to develop hydroelectricity.

(born April 14, 1892, Sydney, N.S.W., Australia—died Oct. 19, 1957, Mount Victoria, N.S.W.) Australian-British archaeologist. He taught at the University of Edinburgh (1927–46) and later directed the Institute of Archaeology at the University of London (1946–56). His study of European prehistory, especially in The Dawn of European Civilization (1925), sought to evaluate the relationship between Europe and the Middle East and to examine the structure and character of ancient cultures of the Western world. His later books included The Most Ancient Near East (1928) and The Danube in Prehistory (1929). His approach established a tradition of prehistoric studies.

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(born Dec. 20, 1894, Jeparit, Victoria. Austl.—died May 16, 1978, Melbourne) Australian statesman and prime minister (1939–41, 1949–66). A successful lawyer, he served as Australia's attorney general (1934–39). Leader of the United Australia Party, he served as prime minister (1939–41). He organized the Liberal Party in 1944 and again became premier in 1949. In the 1950s he fostered industrial growth in Australia and immigration from Europe. He strengthened military ties with the U.S. and encouraged the ANZUS Pact and Australia's membership in the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization. He retired in 1966 after the longest ministry in Australian history.

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(born Nov. 30, 1912, Fort Scott, Kan., U.S.—died March 7, 2006, New York, N.Y.) U.S. writer, photographer, and film director. As the first African American staff photographer for Life (1948–72), Parks became known for his portrayals of ghetto life, black nationalists, and the civil rights movement. His first work of fiction was The Learning Tree (1963), a novel about a black adolescent in Kansas in the 1920s. He combined poetry and photography in collections such as A Poet and His Camera (1968) and Glimpses Toward Infinity (1996). In 1968 he became the first African American to direct a major motion picture with his film adaptation of The Learning Tree. He later directed Shaft (1971), which helped give rise to the genre of African American action films known as “blaxploitation.” Parks also composed music.

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(born March 28, 1942, Tredegar, Monmouthshire, Wales) British politician. Elected to Parliament in 1970, he rose in the Labour Party ranks and was named to its national executive committee in 1978. After the party suffered its heaviest defeat in 48 years in 1983, he was elected party leader, the youngest in its history. By 1989 he had persuaded the party to abandon its radical policies on disarmament and large-scale nationalization. Although the party increased its numbers in Parliament, it lost the 1992 general election to the Conservatives, and Kinnock resigned as party leader. He became a vice president of the European Commission of the European Union in 1999.

Learn more about Kinnock, Neil (Gordon) with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born Dec. 20, 1894, Jeparit, Victoria. Austl.—died May 16, 1978, Melbourne) Australian statesman and prime minister (1939–41, 1949–66). A successful lawyer, he served as Australia's attorney general (1934–39). Leader of the United Australia Party, he served as prime minister (1939–41). He organized the Liberal Party in 1944 and again became premier in 1949. In the 1950s he fostered industrial growth in Australia and immigration from Europe. He strengthened military ties with the U.S. and encouraged the ANZUS Pact and Australia's membership in the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization. He retired in 1966 after the longest ministry in Australian history.

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(born , Dec. 31, 1815, Cádiz, Spain—died Nov. 6, 1872, Philadelphia, Pa., U.S.) U.S. general in the American Civil War. He was the son of a U.S. naval agent in Spain. After graduating from West Point in 1835, he worked as a surveyor. He reentered the army in 1842 and in 1861 was commissioned brigadier general in the Pennsylvania volunteers. He fought at Bull Run, Antietam, and Chancellorsville. Three days before the Battle of Gettysburg, he replaced Joseph Hooker as commander of the Army of the Potomac. At Gettysburg he repulsed the Confederate attack but was criticized for failing to pursue Robert E. Lee's forces. From 1864 he was subordinate to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, whom he served loyally. After the war he commanded several military departments.

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(born Dec. 26, 1751, London, Eng.—died Nov. 1, 1793, London) English instigator of the anti-Catholic Gordon riots. The third son of the 3rd duke of Gordon, he entered Parliament in 1774. In 1779 he organized the Protestant associations formed to secure the repeal of the Catholic Relief Act (1778). In 1780 he led a mob to Parliament to present a petition against the act. The ensuing riot lasted a week, causing great property damage and nearly 500 casualties. Gordon was charged with, but was acquitted of, high treason. Convicted of libeling the queen of France in 1787, he was imprisoned in Newgate, where he died.

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(born March 28, 1942, Tredegar, Monmouthshire, Wales) British politician. Elected to Parliament in 1970, he rose in the Labour Party ranks and was named to its national executive committee in 1978. After the party suffered its heaviest defeat in 48 years in 1983, he was elected party leader, the youngest in its history. By 1989 he had persuaded the party to abandon its radical policies on disarmament and large-scale nationalization. Although the party increased its numbers in Parliament, it lost the 1992 general election to the Conservatives, and Kinnock resigned as party leader. He became a vice president of the European Commission of the European Union in 1999.

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(born Sept. 1, 1795, Newmill, Banffshire, Scot.—died June 1, 1872, New York, N.Y., U.S.) Scottish-born U.S. editor. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1819 and was employed on various newspapers until 1835, when he started The New York Herald. The paper became very successful and introduced many of the methods of modern news reporting. Among other innovations, Bennett published the first Wall Street financial article (1835), established the first correspondents in Europe (1838), maintained a staff of 63 war correspondents during the Civil War, was a leader in using illustrations, introduced a society department, and published the first account in U.S. journalism of a love-nest murder (1836).

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(born Dec. 26, 1751, London, Eng.—died Nov. 1, 1793, London) English instigator of the anti-Catholic Gordon riots. The third son of the 3rd duke of Gordon, he entered Parliament in 1774. In 1779 he organized the Protestant associations formed to secure the repeal of the Catholic Relief Act (1778). In 1780 he led a mob to Parliament to present a petition against the act. The ensuing riot lasted a week, causing great property damage and nearly 500 casualties. Gordon was charged with, but was acquitted of, high treason. Convicted of libeling the queen of France in 1787, he was imprisoned in Newgate, where he died.

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orig. Charles William Gordon

(born Sept. 13, 1860, Indian Lands, Glengarry county, Ont., Can.—died Oct. 31, 1937, Winnipeg, Man.) Canadian novelist. Ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1890, Connor became a missionary to mining and lumber camps in the Canadian Rocky Mountains; this experience and memories of his childhood in Glengarry, Ont., provided material for his novels, including The Sky Pilot (1899) and The Prospector (1904), which, combining adventure with religious messages and wholesome sentiment, made him the best-selling Canadian novelist of the early 20th century. His best books are considered to be The Man from Glengarry (1901) and Glengarry School Days (1902).

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Charles George Gordon, portrait by Lady Julia Abercromby; in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

(born Jan. 28, 1833, Woolwich, near London, Eng.—died Jan. 26, 1885, Khartoum, Sudan) British general. Gordon distinguished himself as a young officer in the Crimean War (1853–56) and subsequently volunteered for the second Opium War (1856–60). In 1862 he helped defend Shanghai during the Taiping Rebellion. These exploits earned him the epithet “Chinese” Gordon. In 1873 the Egyptian ruler Ismāaynīl Pasha, who regularly employed Europeans, appointed Gordon governor of the province of Equatoria in southern Sudan (1874–76) and as governor-general of the Sudan (1874–80). In that post Gordon acted to crush rebellions and suppress the slave trade. He was again sent to the Sudan by Britain in 1884 to evacuate Anglo-Egyptian forces from Khartoum, which was threatened by Mahdist movement insurgents. After his arrival the city was besieged; it remained isolated for several months until it finally succumbed (Jan. 26, 1885). Gordon was killed in the action.

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(born Nov. 11, 1897, Montezuma, Ind., U.S.—died Oct. 9, 1967, Cambridge, Mass.) U.S. psychologist. He taught at Harvard University (1930–67), becoming noted for his theory of personality, which focused on the adult self rather than on childhood or infantile emotions and experiences, set forth in books such as Personality (1937). In The Nature of Prejudice (1954) he made important contributions to the analysis of prejudice.

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(born Nov. 11, 1897, Montezuma, Ind., U.S.—died Oct. 9, 1967, Cambridge, Mass.) U.S. psychologist. He taught at Harvard University (1930–67), becoming noted for his theory of personality, which focused on the adult self rather than on childhood or infantile emotions and experiences, set forth in books such as Personality (1937). In The Nature of Prejudice (1954) he made important contributions to the analysis of prejudice.

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(born Nov. 30, 1912, Fort Scott, Kan., U.S.—died March 7, 2006, New York, N.Y.) U.S. writer, photographer, and film director. As the first African American staff photographer for Life (1948–72), Parks became known for his portrayals of ghetto life, black nationalists, and the civil rights movement. His first work of fiction was The Learning Tree (1963), a novel about a black adolescent in Kansas in the 1920s. He combined poetry and photography in collections such as A Poet and His Camera (1968) and Glimpses Toward Infinity (1996). In 1968 he became the first African American to direct a major motion picture with his film adaptation of The Learning Tree. He later directed Shaft (1971), which helped give rise to the genre of African American action films known as “blaxploitation.” Parks also composed music.

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(born Feb. 20, 1951, Glasgow, Scot.) Scottish-born British politician and prime minister (2007– ). Brown worked as a teacher and a journalist before winning election in 1983 to the House of Commons as a member of the Labour Party. He subsequently became friends with Tony Blair, and the two men soon found themselves at the forefront of the campaign to modernize Labour's political philosophy, replacing the goal of state socialism with a more pragmatic, market-friendly strategy. After Labour's landslide victory in 1997, Blair became prime minister, and Brown was named chancellor of the Exchequer. Under Brown's leadership, Great Britain experienced a period of relatively steady economic growth, but increased public spending and government borrowing became growing concerns. In June 2007 Blair stepped down as prime minister and as Labour leader, and Brown succeeded him in both posts.

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(born Jan. 28, 1784, Edinburgh, Scot.—died Dec. 14, 1860, London, Eng.) British foreign secretary and prime minister (1852–55). As special ambassador to Austria in 1813, he helped form the coalition that defeated Napoleon. As foreign secretary (1828–30, 1841–46), he settled boundary disputes between Canada and the U.S. with the Webster-Ashburton Treaty and the Oregon Treaty (see Oregon Question). As prime minister, he formed a coalition government, but his indecision hampered peacekeeping efforts and led to Britain's involvement in the Crimean War. Constitutionally responsible for the mistakes of British generals in the war, he resigned in 1855.

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(born , Dec. 31, 1815, Cádiz, Spain—died Nov. 6, 1872, Philadelphia, Pa., U.S.) U.S. general in the American Civil War. He was the son of a U.S. naval agent in Spain. After graduating from West Point in 1835, he worked as a surveyor. He reentered the army in 1842 and in 1861 was commissioned brigadier general in the Pennsylvania volunteers. He fought at Bull Run, Antietam, and Chancellorsville. Three days before the Battle of Gettysburg, he replaced Joseph Hooker as commander of the Army of the Potomac. At Gettysburg he repulsed the Confederate attack but was criticized for failing to pursue Robert E. Lee's forces. From 1864 he was subordinate to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, whom he served loyally. After the war he commanded several military departments.

Learn more about Meade, George G(ordon) with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born Jan. 16, 1872, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, Eng.—died July 29, 1966, Vence, France) British actor, stage designer, and drama theorist. He was the son of Ellen Terry. He acted with Henry Irving's company (1889–97) and then turned to designing stage sets, decor, and costumes. He moved to Florence (1906), where he opened the School for the Art of the Theatre (1913). His international journal The Mask (1908–29) made his theatrical ideas widely known. His books On the Art of the Theatre (1911), Towards a New Theatre (1913), and Scene (1923) outlined innovations in stage design based on the use of portable screens and changing patterns of light; his theories influenced the antinaturalist trends of the modern theatre.

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(born April 14, 1892, Sydney, N.S.W., Australia—died Oct. 19, 1957, Mount Victoria, N.S.W.) Australian-British archaeologist. He taught at the University of Edinburgh (1927–46) and later directed the Institute of Archaeology at the University of London (1946–56). His study of European prehistory, especially in The Dawn of European Civilization (1925), sought to evaluate the relationship between Europe and the Middle East and to examine the structure and character of ancient cultures of the Western world. His later books included The Most Ancient Near East (1928) and The Danube in Prehistory (1929). His approach established a tradition of prehistoric studies.

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Charles George Gordon, portrait by Lady Julia Abercromby; in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

(born Jan. 28, 1833, Woolwich, near London, Eng.—died Jan. 26, 1885, Khartoum, Sudan) British general. Gordon distinguished himself as a young officer in the Crimean War (1853–56) and subsequently volunteered for the second Opium War (1856–60). In 1862 he helped defend Shanghai during the Taiping Rebellion. These exploits earned him the epithet “Chinese” Gordon. In 1873 the Egyptian ruler Ismāaynīl Pasha, who regularly employed Europeans, appointed Gordon governor of the province of Equatoria in southern Sudan (1874–76) and as governor-general of the Sudan (1874–80). In that post Gordon acted to crush rebellions and suppress the slave trade. He was again sent to the Sudan by Britain in 1884 to evacuate Anglo-Egyptian forces from Khartoum, which was threatened by Mahdist movement insurgents. After his arrival the city was besieged; it remained isolated for several months until it finally succumbed (Jan. 26, 1885). Gordon was killed in the action.

Learn more about Gordon, Charles George with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born Sept. 1, 1795, Newmill, Banffshire, Scot.—died June 1, 1872, New York, N.Y., U.S.) Scottish-born U.S. editor. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1819 and was employed on various newspapers until 1835, when he started The New York Herald. The paper became very successful and introduced many of the methods of modern news reporting. Among other innovations, Bennett published the first Wall Street financial article (1835), established the first correspondents in Europe (1838), maintained a staff of 63 war correspondents during the Civil War, was a leader in using illustrations, introduced a society department, and published the first account in U.S. journalism of a love-nest murder (1836).

Learn more about Bennett, James Gordon with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born Jan. 28, 1784, Edinburgh, Scot.—died Dec. 14, 1860, London, Eng.) British foreign secretary and prime minister (1852–55). As special ambassador to Austria in 1813, he helped form the coalition that defeated Napoleon. As foreign secretary (1828–30, 1841–46), he settled boundary disputes between Canada and the U.S. with the Webster-Ashburton Treaty and the Oregon Treaty (see Oregon Question). As prime minister, he formed a coalition government, but his indecision hampered peacekeeping efforts and led to Britain's involvement in the Crimean War. Constitutionally responsible for the mistakes of British generals in the war, he resigned in 1855.

Learn more about Aberdeen, George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th earl of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen KG KT FRS PC (28 January 1784–14 December 1860), styled Lord Haddo from 1791 to 1801, was a Scottish politician, successively a Tory, Conservative and Peelite, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1852 until 1855.

Early life

Born in Edinburgh on 28 January 1784, he was the eldest son of George Gordon, Lord Haddo, son of George Gordon, 3rd Earl of Aberdeen. His mother was Charlotte, daughter of William Baird. He lost his father in 1791 and his mother in 1795 and was brought up by Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville. He was educated at Harrow, and St John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated with an MA in 1804.

Period 1801–1812

Before this, however, he had become Earl of Aberdeen on his grandfather's death in 1801, and had travelled all over Europe. On his return to England, he founded the Athenian Society. In 1805, he married Lady Catherine Elizabeth, daughter of Lord Abercorn. In December he took his seat as a Tory Scottish representative peer in the House of Lords. In 1808, he was created a Knight of the Thistle.

Official and political career

Following the death of his wife in 1812 he joined the Foreign Service. He was appointed ambassador extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at Vienna, where he signed the Treaty of Töplitz between Britain and Austria in October 1813. He was one of the British representatives at the Congress of Chatillon in February 1814, and at the negotiations which led to the Treaty of Paris in the following May.

Returning home he was created a peer of the United Kingdom as Viscount Gordon, of Aberdeen in the County of Aberdeen (1814), and made a member of the Privy Council. In July 1815 he married Harriet, daughter of John Douglas, and widow of James, Viscount Hamilton. During the ensuing thirteen years Aberdeen took a less prominent part in public affairs.

He served as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1828) and Foreign Secretary (1828-30) under the Duke of Wellington. He resigned with Wellington over the Reform Bill of 1832. He was Secretary of State for War and the Colonies (1834-35) and then Foreign Secretary (1841-46) under Robert Peel. It was during his second stint as Foreign Secretary that he settled two disagreements with the US - the Northeast Boundary dispute by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty (1842), and the Oregon dispute by the Oregon Treaty of 1846. He also worked successfully to improve relationships with France, where Guizot had become a personal friend. He again followed his leader and resigned with Peel over the issue of the Corn Laws.

After Peel's death in 1850 he became the recognized leader of the Peelites. His dislike of the Ecclesiastical Titles Assumption Bill, the rejection of which he failed to secure in 1851, prevented him from joining the government of Lord John Russell.

In December 1852, however, he became Prime Minister and headed a coalition ministry of Whigs and Peelites. Although united on free trade and on questions of domestic reform, his cabinet which contained Lord Palmerston and Lord John Russell, was certain to differ on questions of foreign policy.

He entered the country into the Crimean War on the side of the Ottoman Empire following pressure from some of his cabinet. Palmerston, supported by Russell, favoured a more aggressive policy, and Aberdeen, unable to control Palmerston, acquiesced.

However the war proved his downfall. As reports returned detailing the mismanagement of the conflict Russell resigned; and on 29 January 1855 a motion for the appointment of a select committee to enquire into the conduct of the war, was carried by a large majority. Treating this as a vote of no confidence, Aberdeen resigned.

Death

Lord Aberdeen died at Argyll House, St. James's, London on 14 December 1860, and was buried in the family vault at Stanmore.

Successors

By his first wife Aberdeen had one son and three daughters, all of whom predeceased their father. By his second wife, who died in August 1833, he left four sons and one daughter. His eldest son, George, succeeded as fifth Earl; his second son John was created Marquess of Aberdeen and Temair in 1916. Aberdeen's second son was General Sir Alexander Hamilton-Gordon, K.C.B.; his third son was the Reverend Douglas Hamilton-Gordon; and his youngest son Arthur Gordon was created Baron Stanmore in 1893.

Other personal matters

Apart from his political career Aberdeen was also a distinguished scholar. His private life is believed to be exemplary by the standards of the day. His manner was lofty and reserved, and as a speaker he was ponderous rather than eloquent. It is said that he lacked strength and his foreign policy was essentially one of peace and non-intervention.

In 1994 novelist, columnist and politician Ferdinand Mount used George Gordon's life as the basis for a historical novel - Umbrella.

See also

References

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