The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Hardie, James Keir
HARDIE, James Keir, British politician and labor leader: b. Scotland, 1856; d. Glasgow, 26 Sept. 1915. He worked in a coal mine as a boy till 1880, when he was elected secretary of the Lanarkshire Miners' Union. From that period be devoted himself to political and labor agitation. Entirely self-educated, he possessed a ready flow of language — not infrequently of the violent demagogue type. He made his first attempt for Parliament as a Labor candidate in 1888, but was defeated. In 1892 he was returned for West Ham, and made his first arrival at the House in circumstances which led to police intervention. He lost his seat in 1895, but returned in 1900 for Merthyr Tydvil, which he represented (with another member) till his death. He was one of the founders of the Independent Labor Party in 1892, of which he was chairman for many years. He was proprietor and editor of The Labor Leader from 1887 to 1903. In 1906, when the Labor party became a distinct group in the House was elected its first chairman. He visited India in 1907 and created considerable disturbance with his inflammatory speeches. Hardie traveled the British colonies and the United States on lecturing tours. He was the most extreme of British politicians; his gloomy views on the state of society placed him among a minority during most of his stormy political life. Though his socialistic principles never found much sympathy even among his own following, he performed valuable service to the cause of labor.