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Biographical entry Watson, John Christian (Chris) (1867 - 1941)

9 April 1867
Valparaiso, Chile
18 November 1941
Trade Union - Official, Politician - State - NSW (MLA or MLC) and Politician - Federal


Born in Valparaiso, Chile in 1867, John Watson arrived in Sydney, via New Zealand, in 1886. Watson was elected president of the Sydney Trades & Labor Council in 1893 and became President of the Australian Labor Federation in 1894. By April 1901, Watson had became the first leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party and in April 1904 he was appointed Prime Minister and Treasurer when the Deakin government resigned. This was the first national labour government anywhere in the world. He was to hold this office until August that year. Watson resigned the Labor leadership in 1907 and retired from politics in 1910. He sided with the conscriptionists during the First World War and was expelled from the Labor Party as a result. John Watson died in 1941.

Archival resources

National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection

  • Papers of John Christian Watson 1900-1941, 1900 - 1941, MS 451; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details

Published resources

Book Sections

  • Nairn, Bede, 'John Christian Watson', in Ritchie, John (ed.), Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 12, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1990, pp. 400-405. Details

Edited Books

  • Grattan, Michelle (ed.), Australian Prime Ministers, New Holland Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd, Australia, 2001, 512 pp. Details

Online Resources

Ross G. Elford