William Ewart Gladstone
Entering Parliament (1833) as a Tory, he became a protégé of Sir Robert Peel, who made him undersecretary for war and the colonies (1835). In Peel's second ministry, he became vice president (1841) and president (1843) of the Board of Trade, introducing the first government regulation of the railroads, and then (1845) colonial secretary. A supporter of free trade, he resigned (1846) with Peel in the party split that followed repeal of the corn laws and gradually aligned himself more and more with the Liberals. As chancellor of the exchequer (1852–55, 1859–66), he eloquently proposed and secured measures for economic retrenchment and free trade. He also espoused the cause of parliamentary reform (see Reform Acts).