British Labour politician and trade unionist, leader of the Labour Party 1914–1918, born in Scotland. He helped to transform the Labour Party from a pressure group into a party of government, and was home secretary 1924–29 in the first Labour government. As foreign secretary 1929–31 he accorded the Soviet government full recognition. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1934 for his work for international disarmament.
Henderson was born in Glasgow and brought up in Newcastle upon Tyne. In 1903 he was elected to Parliament as member for Rochdale. He worked closely with other Labour politicians, including Kier Hardie and Ramsay MacDonald. Henderson succeeded MacDonald as secretary of the Labour Party, a post he held until shortly before his death.
At the start of World War I in August 1914, the Parliamentary Labour Party split. MacDonald resigned as party leader and was succeeded by Henderson. He took Labour into the 1915 coalition, serving as the first Labour cabinet minister. Henderson later served in Lloyd George's war cabinet. He visited Russia in 1917, after the first revolution, and became convinced that the price of keeping Russia in the war was British attendance at a Stockholm conference of international socialists. This led to a breach with Lloyd George and Henderson's resignation from the cabinet. As a result of these experiences, he became an internationalist and converted Labour to the ideas of the League of Nations.
After 1918, when Henderson resigned the leadership in favour of MacDonald, he concentrated his efforts into turning Labour into a broad-based party. His success was such that MacDonald was able to form the first Labour government in 1924. After its collapse 1931, Henderson once more took on the role of leader of the opposition, this time facing his former colleague MacDonald, who headed a coalition.
Early life Henderson left school at the age of 12 and became an engineering apprentice. His interest in politics developed through his involvement in local trade-union activities, and he rose through the local and regional trade-union movement. He attended the 1899 meeting in London that led to the establishment of the Labour Representation Committee. In 1903 he became treasurer of that committee.
Career As foreign secretary, Henderson took a pro-active role in European affairs, forging links with several leading politicians in Europe and the self-governing divisions of the British Empire. During his Parliamentary career, Henderson sat for various constituencies, finally as MP for Clay Cross 1933–35. Although he never held office again after 1931, he continued to work for the League of Nations.
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