Burns, John, 1858–1943, British union leader and politician. A factory worker as a child, he was largely self-educated and was led by his reading to radical socialism. Burns became an outstanding orator, and in 1889 he was one of the leaders of the London dock strike, an attempt to organize the ill-paid unskilled laborers. Burns was elected (1892) to Parliament among the first labor representatives, but he quarreled with James Keir Hardie and soon abandoned both socialism and the trade union movement. Henceforth associated with the Liberals, he was president of the local government board (1905–14), but resigned from the cabinet in protest against Britain's entry into World War I. He retired from Parliament in 1918.
See biography by K. Brown (1977).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
More on John Burns from Infoplease:
See more Encyclopedia articles on: British and Irish History: Biographies