Sir Harold Macmillan

(1st Earl of Stockton)

1894 - 1986

Harold Macmillan
©2020 Gazetteer for Scotland

Harold Macmillan

British Prime Minister. Born in London, his connection with Scotland is through his Arran-born grandfather, Daniel (1813-57), who founded the noted publishing company. Macmillan was a Director of the company, although his brother ran it on a day-to-day basis.

Macmillan was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford. he was wounded during World War I and won the Military Cross. He began his long political career when he was elected as Conservative Member of Parliament for Stockton-on-Tees in 1924 and went on to serve in Churchill's War Cabinet from 1940. He was appointed Minister of Housing (1951), Minister of Defence (1954), Foreign Secretary (1955) and Chancellor of the Exchequer (1955).

Macmillan became Prime Minister in 1957, following the resignation of Anthony Eden in the wake of the Suez Crisis and the same year in which Russia shocked the world with the launch of Sputnik. Macmillan's major contributions were in foreign policy (he held the post of Foreign Secretary at the same time as Prime Minister). He rebuilt relations with the USA following the strains of Suez, held talks with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in Moscow (1959) and was party to the successful negotiation of a Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (1963). However the 1962 Nassau Agreement between US President Kennedy and Macmillan, in which the US agreed to supply Britain with Polaris nuclear missiles, enraged President de Gaulle of France, who deprecated US involvement in European affairs. De Gaulle took his revenge, and deeply upset Macmillan, the following year by vetoing British entry to the European Community.

Macmillan is perhaps best remembered for his Winds of Change speech, given in South Africa, which promoted the right of native peoples to be granted their independence.

Macmillan resigned in 1963, having suffered ill health and aged 68, under pressure from within the Conservative Party for a younger leader.

Macmillan was created Earl of Stockton (1984) and died in Sussex.

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