Little Bits of History

First and Only

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 4, 2011

Margaret Thatcher

May 4, 1979: Margaret Roberts Thatcher is elected as the first [and so far, only] woman Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. She served from 1979-1990, the longest term since Lord Salisbury at the end of the 19th century. Margaret Roberts majored in chemistry at Somerville College, Oxford and was President of the Oxford University Conservative Association in 1946. She worked as a research chemist after graduation.

She first ran for public office in 1950 without success. She met Denis Thatcher, a divorced businessman and married him in 1953. He financed her way through law school and after graduation, she practice tax law. She won three Prime Minister elections and then her own party turned against her. She was either loved or hated by the constituency, as well. Her own party claimed that she was mishandling the economy.

The PM resides at 10 Downing Street, one of the most famous addresses in London. Over the years 52 men and 1 woman have resided there beginning with Sir Robert Walpole from 1721-1742. Tony Blair took up residence on May 2, 1997. Unlike the United States Presidential office, when a PM vacates the post by death, there can be an interval with no sitting PM. This has happened a few times, with the longest gap being 56 days after the Earl of Wilmington died.

William Pitt was elected to the post at the age of 24. George Canning only served 119 days before his death. Walpole served nearly 21 years, the longest sitting PM. They can also be a quirky lot. The Duke of Wellington once came upon a boy worried about leaving his pet toad while he went to boarding school, so the PM adopted the toad. Winston Churchill was born in the loo when his mother went into early labor at a dance. John Major’s father worked as a trapeze artist. The oddest injury suffered by a PM was when Earl Grey was struck in the head by his wife’s picture when it fell off the wall.

“If you want something said, ask a man…if you want something done, ask a woman.”

“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”

“Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s when you’ve had everything to do, and you’ve done it.”

“Of course it’s the same old story. Truth usually is the same old story.”

“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” – all from Margaret Thatcher

Also on this day:
The Little General – In 1814 Napoleon I is exiled to Elba.
Nicaragua – In 1855, William Walker left to conquer Nicaragua.

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