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