William Ewart Gladstone (1809–98) was four times Liberal prime minister of Great Britain (1868–74, 1880–85, 1886, 1892–94). One of the major political figures of the Victorian era, he served in the Colonial Office and was three times chancellor of the Exchequer, including during the first two years of his second government. Soudan and Afghanistan. The Vote of Credit is a pamphlet containing the text of a speech that Gladstone delivered before the Committee of Supply in the House of Commons on April 27, 1885, less than a month after the Panjdeh incident between Russia and Afghanistan and three months after the fall of Khartoum to the Mahdi forces and the subsequent killing of General Charles Gordon. In the Panjdeh incident, Russian forces seized Afghan territory south of the Oxus River (today known as the Amu Darya), leading to a clash with Afghan troops and a diplomatic crisis with Great Britain, which was sensitive to Russian pressures on Afghanistan and the potential threat they posed to British India. In the speech, Gladstone requested a Vote of Credit amounting to £11,000,000, of which £6,500,000 was designated for unspecified “special preparations” to strengthen the hand of the British Empire. It was obvious from the speech that these preparations were meant to counter possible Russian threats to Afghanistan and India. The other £4,500,000 was to be spent in connection with the crisis in Sudan. Gladstone expected the Sudan money to come with a censure, for he was seen as having allowed General Gordon to go to Khartoum but having failed in the attempt to rescue him from the forces of the Mahdi. In the end, the credit was approved. The speech was published by the Liberal Central Association of Great Britain in 1885.
References: H.C.G. Matthew, “Gladstone, William Ewart (1809‒1898),” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2004).
Place: Africa; Sudan; Central and South Asia; Afghanistan; Europe; United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Institution: Library of Congress
Physical description: 15 pages ; 22 centimeters