1897 Colonial Conference

The Colonial Conference of 1897 was a conference between the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the 11 self-governing colonies of the British Empire. The conference was convened in London by Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain in 1897 on the occasion of Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Chamberlain's intention was to draw the self-governing colonies into closer co-operation with the United Kingdom.[1]

1897 Colonial Conference
Dates24 June–8 July 1897
Venue(s)Colonial Office, Whitehall
CitiesUnited Kingdom London, United Kingdom
Heads of Government11
ChairJoseph Chamberlain
(Secretary of State for the Colonies)
Follows1894 Colonial Conference
Precedes1902 Colonial Conference
Key points
Imperial council, imperial defence

Delegates were sent to the conference by Canada, Newfoundland Colony, New Zealand the Australian self-governing colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia, and the South African colonies of Cape Colony and the Colony of Natal.[1]

Chamberlain proposed the creation of a permanent Imperial Council made up of delegates from the colonies to act as an Empire-wide parliament with the power to bind the colonies on imperial matters but this was rejected by the colonies due to fears of loss of autonomy. Chamberlain also propose that colonies increase their contributions to the Royal Navy but only some colonies agreed to increase their contributions and no permanent arrangement was agreed to.[1]

Chamberlain also proposed a customs union between the colonies and Britain while Canada proposed preferential trade but no decision was made by the delegates.[2][3]


The conference was hosted by Queen Victoria, with her Colonial Secretary and the Premiers of various colonies:

Nation Name Portfolio
  United Kingdom Joseph Chamberlain Secretary of State for the Colonies (Chairman)
The Earl of Selborne Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies
Sir John Bramston Assistant Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies
  Canada Sir Wilfrid Laurier Prime Minister
  Cape Colony Sir John Gordon Sprigg Prime Minister
  Colony of Natal Sir Harry Escombe Prime Minister
  Newfoundland Colony Sir William Whiteway Premier
  New South Wales Sir George Reid Premier
  New Zealand Richard Seddon Prime Minister
  Queensland Sir Hugh Nelson Premier
  South Australia Charles Kingston Premier
  Tasmania Sir Edward Braddon Premier
  Victoria Sir George Turner Premier
  Western Australia Sir John Forrest Premier


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Historical dictionary of European imperialism. Greenwood Publishing Group. 1991. pp. 136–137. ISBN 0313262578.
  2. ^ "Colonial Conference". Sydney Mail. news.google.com. 10 July 1897. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  3. ^ Historical dictionary of European imperialism. Greenwood Publishing Group. 1991. p. 138. ISBN 0313262578. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  4. ^ Crowley, F.K. (2000). Big John Forrest, 1847-1918: A Founding Father of the Commonwealth of Australia. University of Western Australia Press. p. 187. ISBN 9781876268442. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  5. ^ "Proceedings of a conference between the secretary of state for the colonies and the premiers of the self-governing colonies at the Colonial Office, London, June and July 1897 [microform]". archive.org. Retrieved 27 December 2014.

External linksEdit