William Edward Forster

(1818—1886) politician

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Forster was a hard‐working politician whose greatest achievement was the Education Act of 1870. The son of a quaker missionary, he began in the Yorkshire woollen trade at Bradford. In 1861 he was returned for Bradford as a Liberal. He was given office under Russell in 1865 and in Gladstone's first ministry put in charge of education. His Education Bill proposed state schools where voluntary schools had not been established, to be administered by elected school boards. The religious difficulty was met by the Cowper–Temple clause, whereby religious instruction was to be undenominational. Forster also guided through secret ballot in 1872. In 1880 he was appointed chief secretary in Ireland. He resigned in 1882 when Gladstone negotiated the Kilmainham ‘treaty’ with Parnell.

Subjects: British History.

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