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British State and People 1865-1915

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Phoebe Davis

on 3 May 2014

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Transcript of British State and People 1865-1915

1866- 1868
Derby - Disraeli


1865- 1866


British State and People, 1865-1915
The Liberals
The Liberal Party was a composition of different groups:

Whigs: Belonged to the aristocracy, yet unlike Tories believed that the monarch should not be involved in parliament.

Liberals: Some children of Whigs but mostly middle-class business men and professionals. They believed in individual liberty, free trade and religious freedom. Many were Nonconformists.

Peelites: (including Gladstone) were supporters of Tory PM Robert Peel who had repealed the Corn Laws and believed in Free-Trade. They had split from the party at the time and were eventually absorbed by the liberals. They came from wealthy industrial backgrounds.

Radicals: were free-thinking middle-class individuals who generally wanted change in the social order. They wanted an extension of the franchise etc.
Gladstone's 1866 reform bill
Gladstone and Lord Russel, liberal PM, drew a reform . It was moderate, well reasoned and had the backing of radical John Bright. It proposed:
- extension of the vote to those in the towns (boroughs) who owned or rented a property with a value of £7 a year instead of the existing qualification of £10.
- In the counties extend the vote to those who rented a property valued at £14 a year. This would give skilled workers the vote.
-It would extend the electorate by about 400,000 men.
The Conservatives
The Conservatives formed a minority government under Lord Derby in the House of Lords and Disraeli in the Commons after the resignation of Lord Russel.

Coming from a Jewish family, Disraeli had been baptised into the Anglican church which enabled him to become PM. He had excellent debating skills and was indispensible to the Tory elite, nevertheless he had to endure a huge amount of prejudice and distrust and hatred from his own party.
Disraeli's leadership was an unavoidable necessity. He realised that to win the support of the electorate new policies were needed. It was important to get the party message across through public meetings headed by good orators as many ordinary people could not read or write.
Disraeli persuaded the Conservatives that following a policy of trade protection when the Whig's free trade policy had resulted in a rise in living standards. He encouraged the party to accept the need for parliamentary reform and developed ideas of social reform.

The 1867 Reform Act
In 1867 Disraeli proposed a reform bill. This bill was already more democratic than Gladstone's, which he had so strongly opposed. He appeared to be more concerned with being the first to pass such a bill rather than what the bill actually consisted of.

Disraeli then accepted further amendments made to the bill by radical MPs. This helped the bill pass through Commons.

Backing radical proposals also ensured that the Liberal party, who had split over Gladstone's bill the previous year, did not reunite to refuse the bill. More moderate Liberals were not numerous enough to stop the bill. If the radicals had felt the bill did not go far enough they may have united with the other Liberals to block it.

Lord Derby assured Conservatives in the House of Lords that passing the bill would secure a Conservative win at the next election, ending their record of poor election results since the party split over the corn laws in 1847. He believed the people would be grateful to the Conservatives for affording them the vote and would repay this reform by voting them back into government.

'Reform to preserve'. Passing a bill to maintain the current hierarchy- preventing a more radical one, or even revolution.
The 1867 Reform Act
The 1867 Reform Act
Who got the vote?
The 1867 Reform Act










However, the bill was not passed.
It was met by fierce opposition from both the Conservative party, urged by Disraeli and also Liberal right-wing opposition led by Robert Lowe. John Bright nicknamed these Liberals the Adullamites, a reference to a story in the old testament in which Davis and his friends take shelter in the Cave of Adullam to escape King Saul, whom David has betrayed.
After an amendment that would reduce the number of new skilled voters in the boroughs was put forward by an Adullamite, Lord Russel resigned as PM.
Why was it passed?
Attitudes to the Working class were changing. The Middle classes in particular began to see how they shared the same values of working hard and saving their earnings. The Working class had become markedly more educated since the Chartist movement twenty years earlier and so could now expect to be taken seriously politically.

Mass agitation across the country, predominantly in the north and midlands displayed the strength and organisation of reformist movements and the governing class feared a revolution.

People saw how white men in America, Canada and Australia were part of a democracy and that France had achieved male suffrage in 1848, they realised it was possible and wanted something similar in Britian.

Economic prosperity after 1850 had created a 'labour aristocracy', comprising mainly of skilled artisans. The improved standard of living for these people and their imporved level of education not only showed politicians their ability to be trusted with the vote but the artisans themselves now felt entitled to some of the same priviledges afforded to the middle classes- with whom they felt they shared many values.
Why was it passed?
Political manouvering:
Social-Economic conditions
Terms of the Act
Borough Franchises:
21 year old Male Householder of 1 years residence who payed rates
Lodgers of 1 years residence who pair £10 rent per year
County Franchises:
Copyholders who paid £5 per year (reduced from £10)
Freeholders who paid £12 a year (reduced from £15)
Redistribution of seats:
52 seats were taken from Rotten Boroughs of less than 10,000 population and corrupt boroughs which were disenfranchised. These seats were redistributed.
25 new county seats (more likely to vote Conservative
20 new borough seats
1 seat for University of London
1 extra MP for Salford & Merthyr Tydfil
Plus the 4 largest cities other than London (Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool & Birmingham) gained a 3rd MP
Effects of the 1867 Reform Act
The number of voters had increased from 1.2 million to 2.5 million ( one third of the male adult population).

However the newly enfranchised working class had little electoral power due to the limited nature of the redistribution of seats. Large industrial cities like Birmingham and Manchester were given only one extra seat and rural areas in the counties remained significantly over-represented. The distribution of seats did not represent the distribution of the population.

The increase in the electorate resulted in both parties improving their organisation. Local societies and working men's clubs were set up by the parties in order to satisfy the wants and needs of the new working electorate. Both parties developed national organisations and began to create mandates so that people knew what they were voting for rather than coming from a 'traditionally liberal/conservative' family.

The Reform Act also led to the 1870 Education Act, the 1872 Ballot Act and the 1883 Corrupt and Illegal Practices Act under a Liberal government.
Gladstone's 1st Ministry
Gladstone's first Cabinet was a composition of the different political groupings that created the Liberal Party. Peelites; Liberals; Radicals; and Whigs.

The ministry earned the epithet 'A great reforming ministry' due to the sheer amount of social and political legislation it passed between 1868 and 1874.

Gladstone himself was a of these reforms. His politics was fuelled by his devotion to Anglicanism and he claimed to always try and do what he found 'morally right'.

Gladstone main 'mission' was to 'pacify Ireland'.
Impact of the Act on politics
Some politicians like Robert Lowe had anticipated the rise of the working class, trade unionism, socialism and mob rule. Even radical John Bright spoke of the "bottomless pit of democracy".

However, the new voters did not cause any fundamental or revolutionary change to the political system.
In the 1868 election, 2 traditionally radical urban boroughs, Westminster and Middlesex returned Conservative MPs

There were no working class Mps until 1874.

MPs from industrial/manufacturing bacgrounds rather than the landed aristocracy increased very slowly. (95 in 1865 and 112 in 1880)

There was no socialist revival until the 1880s and no Labour Party until 1900.
Expectation VS Reality
Why was there no radical change to the political system after the Act?
The new voters were quickly assimilated by the established political parties who had organised themselves to capture the working class vote.

There was still a restrictive property qualification for MPs and they received no salary - preventing Working class men from becoming MPs.

Voting was still public and new voters were intimidation by employers to vote a certain way.

The 'Labour aristocracy' were anxious to distance themselves from association with unskilled workers to earn respectability. They conciously sought to be part of the establishment rather than changing it, therefore they voted for the existing parties.
Corrupt and illegal
Education Act- 1870
Terms of the Act:
Existing voluntary elementary schools to still be supported by public finance.
School Boards to be elected by local ratepayers to establish non-denominational, free, state funded elementary school (Board schools).
Attendance to religious lessons was voluntary.
Creation of a Dual system, allowing for private and state schools- all children 5-11 to have education regardless of religion or wealth.
Non-conformists could teach.
Arguments For:
Many believed state education to be fair and right. A move towards a meritocracy.
The extension of the franchise in 1867 meant that politicians wanted the new electorate to be educated.
Society would benefit from a more educated populace, making Britain more competitive internationally and improving the economy.
Arguments Against:
Anglicans felt that the religious element of teaching had been diluted and some opposed Non-conformists being allowed to teach.
Non-Conformists felt that education was too Anglican as they could not establish their own religious schools.
Local ratepayers may have to have their taxes increased to pay for the schools.
Army Reforms- 1869-1871
Terms of the Act:
Practice of selling commissions to the highest bidder was abolished. Promotion to be based on merit.
Recruitment to be encouraged by reducing enlistment from 12 years to 6, with 6 in the reserve.
Infantry re-organised on a County basis.
Arguments For:
The new system was much fairer and officers could no longer buy their positions.
Soldiers could join the army with friends and stay near their family.
Infantry recruitment became easier.
Arguments Against:
Officers remained upper class. They were now promoted for length of service rather than merit.
The upper class were disgruntled they could no longer buy positions. Society at the time felt that wealth and privilege was indeed a birth right and the bill met fierce opposition in the House of Lords.
Trade union Reforms- 1871
Trade Union Act terms:
Granted the unions new legal rights and protection funds
Criminal Law Amendment Act terms:
Made intimidation of workers punishable by imprisonment effectively outlawing picketing.
Arguments For:
Gladstone had essentially reinstated Trade Unions which had more or less been banned after the 'Hornby VS Close Judgement'. The unions could now be somewhat effective.
Arguments Against:
Unions could not peacefully picket and express workers issues with a hard impact. It also stopped striking.
Civil service Reforms- 1871
Terms of the Act:
Entrance to the civil service and promotion within it were to be decided by open competitive examinations.
Arguments For:
Encouraged a meritocracy although in reality was mainly restricted to those with a Higher Education.
Civil service became much more efficient as able and intelligent men (sometimes from ordinary backgrounds) were allowed a chance of a steady and reasonably prosperous career.
Arguments Against:
Many Conservatives and Whigs opposed this. The civil service was something they saw to be reliant on family connections and wealth and they did not want this to change.
Local Government Board Act- 1871
Made Local Councils responsible for urban and rural sanitation.
Terms of the Act
Arguments for:
Some areas like Birmingham who had progressive Local governments saw a huge improvement in the cleanliness and sanitation of their cities and towns.
Arguments against
As care of sanitation was now localised it did not effect national government. If an area had a grievance with the way their councils dealt with sanitation there was little they could do.
Some ratepayers objected to hay for the improved sanitation of others.
Licensing Act- 1872
Beer and Ale shops had to be licensed by local magistrates.
Opening hours were fixed and Closing hours were fixed at 11pm (12pm in London)
Regulations introduced to check adulteration of drinks
Terms of the Act
Arguments For:
Alcohol would be safer due to regulations
Earlier closing time meant less disturbances and incidents
Arguments Against:
A lot of water, especially in London, could not be drunk it was so dirty. People drank beer as a replacement.
Brewers and the Working Class despised the Act and the Non-Conformists thought it did not go far enough.
Clubs for wealthy gentlemen did not have the same restrictions so it seemed unfair, limiting only poorer men.
Ballot Act- 1872
Terms of the Act:
The Act was a result of the 1867 Reform Act.
It ended open voting. Voting was to be done by secret ballot
Arguments For:
Workers and other voters could not be threatened into voting a certain way.
It reduced much corruption and bribery
Arguments Against:
Often men represented a number of people who could not vote when they voted, these people had no way of knowing how they had voted now.
Bribery still continued even if the vote was not witnessed.
Judicature Act -1873
Reorganised court system to speed up notoriously slow and costly trial and appeal process.
'Wills, Wives & Wrecks' brought under the jurisdiction of High Court instead of 3 separate courts.
Terms of the Act
Arguments For:
Sped up court proceedings
Reduced cost of legal system
Arguments Against:
There was no change to any laws that may have needed seeing to.
The Irish Question
There were 3 aspects to the Irish question that needed solving :
After the English civil war, Cromwell and his army confiscated large amounts of Irish land and handed it to English land owners. This still caused a lot of tension in the 19th century and landlords wereoften seen almost as 'the enemy'
About 75% of Irish people were Roman Catholic at this time. The rest were protestant and only half of them were Anglican (12% or the population)- but the Anglican Church was the established Church of Ireland. This meant people had to pay tithes (taxes) to the church.
The Irish parliament had been abolished in 1800. Although Irish MPs were well represented in the British parliament in relation to the Irish population- it was still the British- the viceroy in Ireland etc- who governed Ireland.
Fenianism - the roots of Irish Nationalism
Fenianism began in 1858, it can be seen as the political legacy of the great potato famine (1846-1848_ - a response to the increasing suffering of the Irish.

The Fenians wanted a independent Ireland and were prepared to use violence to achieve their goals.

Fenian supporters cam from many different bacgrounds. 50% were from the artisan class but the movement also attracted the petit bourgeois (eg. school teachers), small farmers, labourers, landed and clerical families and commercial and shopkeeping classes.

However the Roman Catholic Church was very hostile to the Fenians. Fenianism threatened the church's influence over the peasant population. This hostility reduced support for Fenianism as the peasantry (who were in awe of the church) feared excommunication and therefore eternal damnation if they were associated with the Fenian movement.

Irish Reforms (1868-1874)
The acts of the Fenian rebels had forced Gladstone into action over Ireland. Although he had previously felt that something needed to be done, the Feninan incidents had brought Ireland into the minds of the British people. He made it his mission to 'pacify' Ireland.

The Irish Church Act 1869
Terms of the Act:
Anglican Church no longer the Church of Ireland or linked to the state.
Irish Roman Catholics no longer had to pay tithes/taxes to the Anglican church.
Much church wealth went to schools, hospitals and helped the poor in Ireland
Arguments For:
Irish Roman Catholics did not want to pay these taxes and also saw the Anglican Church in Ireland as a symbol of British dominance.
The taxes seemed unfair.
Would help Ireland 'settle'.
Arguments Against:
The established church heavily supported the Tory party and so the Conservatives tried to block the bill in the house of Lords.
Anglican bishops who sat in the house of Lords also disagreed with the bill.
Some saw this as Britain beginning to lose control over Ireland
Effects of the Irish Church Act- 1869
The Non-Conformist Liberals supported the bill, strengthening the party.

Gladstone won the support of Roman Catholic leaders.

It raised expectations of what Gladstone may be able to deliver the Irish people.

Many moderate Irish Nationalists saw it as an indication that Home Rule could be achieved through non violent, constitutional means.
Irish Land Act- 1870
Terms of the Act:
Introduced 'fair' rent
Tenants could get payment to over any improvement made to the holding when they left.
Heavy penalties for Landlords who evicted Tenants without just cause. (Could evict for failing to pay rent)
Tenants could borrow two thirds of the money to buy their holdings.
Arguments For:
Tenants would get a 'fairer deal' without radical land redistribution.
Arguments Against :
For many, the Act did not go far enough to giving the tenants a good deal
Many Landlords (and Landed Whig families) felt that this was an attack on their property rights.
Effects of the Irish Land Act- 1870
The Act removed some tenant grievances.

Landlords were reluctant to sell the tenants their holdings, and very few could afford to buy it anyway.

There was no indication as to what 'fair' rent meant and so some landlords simply raised rent so that their tenants could not pay if they wished to evict them. They could could then evict them for failing to pay rent.

The act alienated some Liberal Whigs.

The act was generally unsuccessful and caused outbreaks of violence among tenants in rural areas. Gladstone then passed the 'Coercion Act' of 1870 to help deal with these outbreaks, giving the police increased powers of arrest. This only made the Irish problem worse and they felt even more bitter about the British.
Foreign policy until 1873
- Prussia had successfully united with the rest of the German states to create a united Germany, upsetting the balance of power in Europe.

- Britain was strong diplomatically in Europe, despite Germany's dominance.

- Russia's expansion towards India was Britain's main empirical concern.

- Gladstone's religion encouraged him to always do what he felt morally right. Because of this Britain became less aggressive in its foreign policy- something which political opposition and public opinion were dissatisfied with, believing it made Britain look weak.

The Franco-Prussian War
Belgian neutrality in this war was a concern for Britain because of its proximity across the channel. Gladstone, acting in accordance with the Treaty of London, warned both sides that he would act against them if they were to invade Belgium. Neither side did.
Russia and the Black Sea
Foreign Affairs
After the Crimean War (1856) and the Treaty of Paris, Russia was forbidden from having any Warships or naval bases on the Black Sea. In 1870 Russia decided it was no longer going to adhere to this clause of the treaty. Britain called a conference where the European Powers agreed that no country could unilaterally withdraw from a clause. However the Blck Sea clause was removed in any case.
The Alabama Dispute
A British shipyard had built the Alabama, a merchant ship for South Americans. It was used in the civil war and the North American government demanded compensation for the damage done by the ship after they had won the war. This threatened Anglo-American relations.
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