Alfred Webb

Alfred Webb


Madras, 1894

Alfred Webb was an Irishman and was the third non-Indian to have presided over the Indian National Congress. He was a member of the British Parliament.

Proposing him to the Chair, S Ramaswami Mudaliar said: "In our choice of a President to rule this great Assembly we shall be giving practical testimony of our anxious desire to knit in the closest bonds of union and fellowship, with our Western brethren, under whose benign guidance an all-wise and beneficent Providence has placed us. I have therefore to propose the name of one who has evinced a very deep concern for the welfare of the people of this country and has always made the cause of the masses the chief aim of his life and who, in his own words, is "the soilder in political warfare to go to any land whenever ordered" - the quiet and unostentatious Member for West Waterford - Alfred Webb of the British Parliament."

It would be interesting to recall what the great Wedderburn said of Alfred Webb, on his return from India as Congress President, at a luncheon at the National Liberal Club, London: "Public opinion in India within the last ten years has become consolidated and organised, and is able now to give a clearer voice to its views through the Indian National Congress, and our great object has been to bring these forces together to associate the Indian Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons with the Indian National Congress, and to get them to cooperate. In that sense, Mr. Webb has done good service. He has visited India as a messenger of peace and goodwill. He has been a sort of dove out of the dark, and those who have heard his words of wisdom and gentleness may add that he has brought an olive-branch in his mouth. I think he has shown that all classes in India, official and non-official, European and Indian, may work together harmoniously for the general welfare of India."

“Politics are amongst the most ennobling, most comprehensive spheres of human activity, and none should eventually be excluded from their exercise. There is much that is sad, much that is deplorable about them. Yet they remain, and ever will remain. The most effective field upon which to work for the good of our fellows. The political atmosphere, that which we here hope to breathe, is one into which no thought of "greed or lust, or low ambition" should enter. We desire the good of all. We work for all.”

From the Presidential Address - Alfred Webb, I.N.C. Session, 1894, Madras

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