Resources for Teachers and Students on Margaret Thatcher

Prepare: Margaret Thatcher was not only the first woman to serve as prime minister of the United Kingdom, but was also the UK's longest-serving prime minister of the 20th Century. Other than for her seat in the House of Lords, she has retired from political life, and heads the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, MTF, where her biography can be found.

Read: Margaret Thatcher's Architects of Peace essay is excerpted from a magazine article titled, "Moral Foundations of Society: A Contrast between East and West." In it, she posits that democracy is essential to preserving freedom.

Explore: In 1995 Margaret Thatcher was invited to give the Rajiv Ghandi Memorial Lecture in New Delhi. In this speech, she outlines her concept of "Pax Democratica," where she insists that, "Genuine democracies do not, by and large, make wars upon each other." The complete text of Thatcher's lecture is available in the archives of The Margaret Thatcher Foundation.

Write: In her Architects of Peace essay, Thatcher insists that a single international democracy, what some theorists call a "new world order," will never be achieved. She argues that "we are misleading ourselves about human nature" when we claim that civilization will ever outgrow the need to go to war. Is this an overly pessimistic view of human nature? Are international efforts such as the United Nations forever doomed to fail in favor of nationalism? Compose a two-to-three page persuasive essay speculating on whether a new world order will ever be possible, and projecting what this means about human nature.

Extend: In a controversial decision in 1982, Thatcher ordered British troops into combat as part of a territorial dispute with Argentina over the ownership of the Falkland Islands in 1982. Thatcher writes of what led to her decision on pages 173-185 of her memoir, The Downing Street Years, which can be read on the MTF website. A concise history of the Falklands War, including the failed attempts to work toward a diplomatic solution, can also be viewed online.

Additional Resource: The BBC conducted an in-depth retrospective of the Falklands War on its twentieth anniversary, combining their own reports with those of the World Services Spanish news site.

Biography of Margaret Thatcher