Sir Edmund Barton (January 18, 1849 – January 7, 1920) was an Australian politician and the first prime minister of the federal government. He was a judge of the High Court and the maker of the White Australia policy. Read on for interesting facts on Sir Edmund Barton.
Early life and education
Sir Edmund Barton was Born in Sydney, New South Wales (now Australia) on January 18, 1849. He had a relatively comfortable upbringing. His mother ran a boarding school for girls to support the family.
In 1871, he was qualified as a practicing lawyer.
Beginning in politics
In 1876-1877, he was elected as a member of the University of Sydney to run for the British Colonial New South Wales Legislative Council, but couldn’t win.
He was elected to the Legislative Council in 1879 for the first time. He served three tenures 1879-1887, 1891-1894 and 1899-1900. He served in the upper house of the Legislative Council in 1887-1891 and 1897-1898. In 1889, he was the legal counsel of the Queen of England.
First term as Prime Minister
Sir Edmund Barton served as the Acting Prime Minister in 1892.
Establishment of Federal Government and the First Prime Minister of the Federal Government
Barton began to lead the federal movement and also participated in the work of the Constitution Drafting Committee in the year 1891.
In 1893, Constitution Act was adopted in the Legislative Council, after which he launched campaign for public support. By 1897, he was recognized as an important federal government leader.
In 1900, he was the leader of the political delegation that was sent to London to negotiate with the British Government.
Australian Federation was formally established in 1901 of which Barton became the Prime Minister. He was also the minister of foreign affairs.
Barton enacted laws that enforced a protectionist policy. The new laws were made to strengthen the custom taxation and national defense. He restricted immigration by establishing a strong naval force and also enforced ban on living in Somalia. These policies laid the foundation for development of Australia.
Judge of the Australian High Court
Many were dissatisfied with his management during his tenure as the PM, due to which he decided to withdraw. This was when he was appointed the judge of the Australian High Court. is the only Prime Minister to also become a judge of the High Court.
Second Australian to receive the GCMG
He became the second Australian to receive the GCMG – the highest knighthood in the Empire. He refused knighthoods in 1887, 1891 and 1899 but eventually accepted it in 1902.
Received Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun
Only three Australian PMs have received this honor.
The Bulletin magazine had named him “Toby Tosspot” after a poem by George Colman. This was done because of his love for having long dinners. This named was later made fun of by opposition members who used “Toby Tub” to point out that he was lazy and overweight.
Laid to rest at the age of 71
He died of heart failure in Heide Lobas, New South Wales on January 7, 1920 at the age of 71.