It was here, at the age of 13, that he set up a school newspaper, The Leader. Whilst at school, he delivered newspapers, sold newspaper subscriptions and was the local correspondent for the St. John Daily Star. Aitken took the entrance examinations for Dalhousie University , but because he had declined to sit the Greek and Latin papers he was refused entry.
He registered at the King's College Law School , but left after a short while. This was to be his only formal higher education.
Aitken worked in a shop, then borrowed some money to move to Chatham, New Brunswick , where he worked as a local correspondent for the Montreal Star , sold life insurance and collected debts. Aitken attempted to train as a lawyer and worked for a short time in the law office of R B Bennett , a future prime minister of Canada.
Aitken managed Bennett's successful campaign for a place on Chatham town council.
When Bennett left the law firm, Aitken moved to Saint John, New Brunswick , where he again sold life insurance before moving to Calgary where he helped to run Bennett's campaign for a seat in the legislative assembly of the North-West Territories in the general election. After an unsuccessful attempt to establish a meat business, Aitken returned to Saint John and to selling insurance.
Stairs , a member of the city's dominant business family, gave him employment and trained him in the business of finance. In , when Stairs launched the Royal Securities Corporation , Aitken became a minority shareholder and the firm's general manager. Under the tutelage of Stairs, who would be his mentor and friend, Aitken engineered a number of successful business deals and was planning a series of bank mergers.
Stairs' unexpected early death in September led to Aitken acquiring control of the company and moving to Montreal, then the business capital of Canada. There he bought and sold companies, invested in stocks and shares and also developed business interests in both Cuba and Puerto Rico.
Canada was booming economically at the time, and Aitken had a monopoly on the material. There were irregularities in the stock transfers leading to the conglomeration of the cement plants, resulting in much criticism of Aitken, as well as accusations of price-gouging and poor management of the cement plants under his company's control.
Aitken had made his first visit to Britain in September , and when he returned there in the spring of , in an attempt to raise money to form a steel company, he decided to make the move permanent,  but not before he led the underwriting, with a preponderance of British money, of an amalgamation of smaller units into the Steel Company of Canada. The two men had a lot in common: they were both sons of the manse from Scottish-Canadian families and both were successful businessmen.
Aitken persuaded Bonar Law to support him in standing for the Unionist Party in the December general election at Ashton-under-Lyne.
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Aitken was an excellent organiser and, with plenty of money for publicity, he won the seat by votes. Aitken rarely spoke in the House of Commons, but did promise substantial financial support to the Unionist Party, and in he was knighted by King George V. Aitken's political influence grew when Bonar Law replaced A. Balfour as leader of the Unionist party late in Aitken bought Cherkley Court near Leatherhead and entertained lavishly there. In the house was offered as a venue for negotiations between Bonar Law and the Prime Minister, H.
Asquith , over Ulster and Irish home rule. Aitken continued to grow his business interests while in Parliament and also began to build a British newspaper empire. After the death of Charles Rolls in , Aitken bought his shares in Rolls-Royce Limited , and over the next two years gradually increased his holding in the company.
An attempt to buy the Evening Standard failed but he did gain control of another London evening paper, The Globe. During the First World War the Canadian government placed Aitken in charge of creating the Canadian War Records Office in London, and he made certain that news of Canada's contribution to the war was printed in Canadian and British newspapers.
He was innovative in the employment of artists, photographers, and film makers to record life on the Western Front. Aitken also established the Canadian War Memorials Fund that evolved into a collection of art works by the premier artists and sculptors in Britain and Canada.
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After the war Aitken wrote several books including Politicians and the Press in and Politicians and the War in Aitken became increasingly hostile towards the Prime Minister, H. Asquith whom he considered to be mismanaging the war effort. Aitken's opinion of Asquith did not improve when he failed to get a post in the Cabinet reshuffle of May Aitken was happy to play a small part, which he greatly exaggerated, as a go-between when Asquith was forced from office and replaced by David Lloyd George in December At that time, an MP taking a cabinet post for the first time had to resign and stand for re-election in a by-election.
Aitken made arrangements for this, but then Lloyd George decided to appoint Albert Stanley instead. Aitken was a friend of Stanley and agreed to continue with the resignation, so that Stanley could take Aitken's seat in Parliament and be eligible for ministerial office. In return, Aitken received a peerage on 23 January as the 1st Baron Beaverbrook ,   the name "Beaverbrook" being adopted from a small community near his boyhood home. He had initially considered "Lord Miramichi ", but rejected it on the advice of Louise Manny as too difficult to pronounce. Later in , Beaverbrook's controlling stake in the Daily Express became public knowledge and he was criticised by parts of the Conservative Party for financing a publication they regarded as irresponsible and often unhelpful to the party.
In February , Beaverbrook became the first Minister of Information in the newly formed Ministry of Information , was also made Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and was sworn of the Privy Council. Beaverbrook established the British War Memorials Committee within the Ministry, on lines similar to the earlier Canadian war art scheme, but when he established a private charity that would receive income from BWMC exhibitions, it was regarded as a conflict of interest and he dropped the scheme.
He felt that intelligence should become part of his department, but Balfour disagreed. Eventually the intelligence committee was assigned to Beaverbrook but they then resigned en masse to be re-employed by the Foreign Office. In August , Lloyd George became furious with Beaverbrook over a leader in the Daily Express threatening to withdraw support from the government over tariff reform. Beaverbrook increasingly came under attack from MPs who distrusted a press baron being employed by the state.
Beaverbrook survived but became increasingly frustrated with his limited role and influence, and in October , he resigned due to ill health. A J P Taylor later wrote that Beaverbrook was a pathbreaker who "invented all the methods of publicity" used by Britain to promote the war, including the nation's first war artists, the first war photographers, and the first makers of war films.
He was especially effective in promoting the sales of war bonds to the general public. Nevertheless, he was widely disliked and distrusted by the political elite, who were suspicious of all they sneeringly called "press lords. After the war, Beaverbrook concentrated on running the Daily Express. He turned the dull newspaper into a glittering and witty journal with an optimistic attitude, filled with an array of dramatic photo layouts.
He hired first-rate writers such as Francis Williams and the cartoonist David Low. He embraced new technology and bought new presses to print the paper in Manchester. In the circulation of the Daily Express was under 40, a day; by it was 2,, a day, making it the most successful of all British newspapers and generating huge profits for Beaverbrook whose wealth was already such that he never took a salary.
After the Second World War , the Daily Express became the largest-selling newspaper in the world, with a circulation of 3,, Beaverbrook launched the Sunday Express in December , but it only established a significant readership after John Junor became its editor in Beaverbrook acquired a controlling stake in the Glasgow Evening Citizen and, in , he launched the Scottish Daily Express.
Consolidation was rampant. James Curran and Jean Seaton state:. I provided facilities by means of private telephone lines without any direct contact with the Telephone Exchanges. Thus the political conferences held there were safeguarded against interruption. The circle included Valentine Castlerosse , H. Wells and Rudyard Kipling , who was godfather to Beaverbrook's youngest son Peter, but this did nothing to repair the rift that developed between them when Beaverbrook endorsed Irish Home Rule. Beaverbrook, the first baron of Fleet Street , was often denounced as excessively powerful because his newspapers supposedly could make or break almost anyone.
Beaverbrook enjoyed using his papers to attack his opponents and to promote his friends. From to he attacked David Lloyd George and his government on several issues. He began supporting independent Conservative candidates and campaigned for fifteen years to remove Stanley Baldwin from the leadership of the Conservative Party. He very shrewdly sold the majority of his share holdings before the crash and in the resulting depression launched a new political party to promote free trade within the British Empire.
Empire Free Trade Crusade candidates had some success. In February , Empire Free Trade lost the Islington East by-election and by splitting the vote with the Conservatives allowed Labour to hold a seat they had been expected to lose. George's Westminster by-election in March marked the end of the movement as an electoral force. On 17 March , during the St. Beaverbrook supported the Munich Agreement and hoped the newly named Duke of Windsor would seek a peace deal with Germany. Testifying before a Parliamentary inquiry in , former Express employee and future MP Michael Foot alleged that Beaverbrook kept a blacklist of notable public figures who were to be denied any publicity in his papers because of personal disputes.
Beaverbrook himself gave evidence before the inquiry and vehemently denied the allegations; Express Newspapers general manager E. Robertson denied that Robeson had been blacklisted, but did admit that Coward had been "boycotted" because he had enraged Beaverbrook with his film In Which We Serve , for in the opening sequence Coward included an ironic shot showing a copy of the Daily Express floating in the dockside rubbish bearing the headline "No War This Year".
In the late s, Beaverbrook used his newspapers to promote the appeasement policies of the Chamberlain government. The slogan 'There will be no war' was used by the Daily Express. With Churchill's blessing, Beaverbrook overhauled all aspects of war-time aircraft production.
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He seized materials and equipment destined for other departments and was perpetually at odds with the Air Ministry. Still, a Time Magazine cover story declared, "Even if Britain goes down this fall, it will not be Lord Beaverbrook's fault. If she holds out, it will be his triumph. This war is a war of machines. It will be won on the assembly line. Under Beaverbrook, fighter and bomber production increased so much so that Churchill declared: "His personal force and genius made this Aitken's finest hour.
However, it has been argued that aircraft production was already rising when Beaverbrook took charge and that he was fortunate to inherit a system which was just beginning to bear fruit. Lord Beaverbrook gave us those machines, and I do not believe that I exaggerate when I say that no other man in England could have done so.
Beaverbrook resigned on 30 April and, after a month as Minister of State, Churchill appointed him to the post of Minister of Supply. Here Beaverbrook clashed with Ernest Bevin who, as Minister of Labour and National Service , refused to let Beaverbrook take over any of his responsibilities.
In February , Beaverbrook became Minister of War Production and again clashed with Bevin, this time over shipbuilding. In the face of Bevin's refusal to work with him, Beaverbrook resigned after only twelve days in the post. In September he was appointed Lord Privy Seal , outside of the Cabinet, and held that post until the end of the war. Much impressed by Stalin and the sacrifice of the Soviet people, he returned to London determined to persuade Churchill to launch a second front in Europe to help draw German resources away from the Eastern Front to aid the Soviets.
Clement Attlee commented that "Churchill often listened to Beaverbrook's advice but was too sensible to take it. In addition to his ministerial roles, Beaverbrook headed the Anglo-American Combined Raw Materials Board from to and accompanied Churchill to several wartime meetings with President Roosevelt. He was able to relate to Roosevelt in a different way to Churchill and became close to Roosevelt during these visits. This friendship sometimes irritated Churchill who felt that Beaverbrook was distracting Roosevelt from concentrating on the war effort.
For his part Roosevelt seems to have enjoyed the distraction. Beaverbrook devoted himself to Churchill's general election campaign, but a Daily Express headline warning that a Labour victory would amount to the 'Gestapo in Britain' was a huge mistake and completely misjudged the public mood. He opposed both Britain's acceptance of post-war loans from America and Britain's application to join the European Economic Community in He would provide additional buildings for the university, scholarship funds, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery , the Beaverbrook Skating Rink, the Lord Beaverbrook Hotel, with profits donated to charity, the Playhouse , Louise Manny 's early folklore work, and numerous other projects.
They had three children before her death on 1 December Beaverbrook remained a widower for many years until when he married Marcia Anastasia Christoforides — , the widow of his friend Sir James Dunn. Beaverbrook was rarely a faithful husband, and even in old age was often accused of treating women with disrespect. Aitken left Norton for a Jewish ballet dancer named Lily Ernst whom he had rescued from pre-war Austria.
After the First World War, Beaverbrook had written Politicians and the Press in , and Politicians and the War in two volumes, the first in and the second in ,  republished in one volume in Taylor said it was "Tacitus and Aubrey rolled into one". Later Taylor said: "The enduring merits of the book are really beyond cavil.
It provides essential testimony for events during a great political crisis It contains character sketches worthy of Aubrey. On a wider canvas, it displays the behaviour of political leaders in wartime. The narrative is carried along by rare zest and wit, yet with the detached impartialty of the true scholar".
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Men and Power — was published in It is not a coherent narrative but divided by separate episodes centred on one man, such as Carson, Robertson, Rothermere and others. This short biography provides an interesting and enthusiastic overview of his life, achievements and shortcomings. Both Richards and Beaverbrook grew up in the same town in New Brunswick and Richards often attributes opinions to Beaverbrook based entirely on his own experiences of the culture of small town New Brunswick. Review: An excellent dual biography of two Canadian political figures who deserve to be better known for their development of the reform movement for Responsible Government and other contributions to modern Canadian politics, education and society.
John Ralston Saul presents the closely intertwined personal and political lives of Baldwin and LaFontaine. They were both surrounded by strong women. No indeed! Politics are with me as though they were a second nature. They both poured their energies into politics. As a child, Baldwin fled the burning of what is now Toronto by American troops during the war of The Rebellions of cost lives in both Upper and Lower Canada and a few of the rocks thrown at Governor General Lord Elgin at the time of the burning of parliament in Montreal in are still in the collection of Library and Archives Canada.
Ralston Saul also places events in Canada in a wider trans-Atlantic context, examining the impact of the European political upheavals of and the emigration following the Irish Potato Famine on Canadian politics and society. Highly recommended. Pearson, who was Prime Minister of Canada at the time of the centennial of Confederation in