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Lecture 3

HIS349 Lecture 3.docx

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Sarah Amato

Lecture 3 Sept 27 The Quest for Democracy -Popular Politics -Peterloo Massacre 1819 -Henry Orator Hunt -Edinburgh Review and young generation of middle-class intellectual whigs -The Great Reform Act -Representation of the People Act, 1918 -Chartists/Chartism (William Lovett, London Working Man's Association Thomas Attwood, Birmingham Political Union, Feargus O'Connor, Northern Star) -People's Charter -Petitions - 1838, 1842, 1848 -Kennington Common 1848 -1867 Reform Act: "A Leap in the Dark?" -1872 Secret Ballot Act -1884 Reform Act -1918 Representation of the People Act -people wanted inclusion in the decision making processes of government, and inclusion in the conception of the nation -1800; midst of Napoleonic Wars; sense of government not working -three changes before 1800 - significant population growth which continues until about 1820, second change is increasing urbanization; large segments of the populations reside in towns which are third, increasingly industrial; commercial and industrial society - increasingly felt that political system needs to be responsive to the needs of a modern commercial society -fourth factor, 1800, major impetus for reform is french revolution itself; since 1790s, there is a series of individuals who are radicals, interested in what is going on on the continent and the revolutionary wars - i.e. overthrow of aristocracy, despotism, enshrinement of universal rights of man - felt by large segments of population that the British political system needs reformation -early 19th century, series of ways in which people popularly express discontent with government and band together for reform -how do the people express discontent to government before being able to vote - march, have a riot, form clubs/societies, petition -petitions are incredibly popular; 1500 sent into government in 1819 alone -we can correlate years of discontent to economic downturns; less political agitation when economy is strong and food is in abundance Peterloo Massacre 1819 -August, huge rally which gathered outside Manchester on St. Peter's fields - some 60,000 men and women, most working class, some middle class; came to hear speeches of Henry Hunt, (Henry Orator Hunt) popular radical who journeyed throughout England and gave speeches - interested in universal manhood suffrage, secret ballot, annual parliaments - government fears the mob (connected with french revolution mob) so call in voluntary cavalry which opens fire; 17 people killed, hundreds injured - instance of government repression against popular politics -produces two immediate effects: inspires working class radicals to consider further that we must push for enfranchisement -second, it inspires a group of a young generation of middle class intellectual whigs, i.e. John Stuart Mill who gather around newspaper Edinburgh review; Britain as repressing the mob, worst of the french revolution - whigs begin to think about reforming governments -interested in a limited reform to give some of the respectable middle classes the vote -essentially defining the middle class as the constituency for whom the franchise should be expanded; group of whigs become increasingly influential in the dates leading up to 1832 reform -1820s economy picks up - period through 1820s becomes important in terms of solidifying intellectual currents; people are thinking-system that middle class intellectuals are opposed to: vote is available to 2% of the population, property owners - to have the vote is based on; no sense that the rights of an individual entail the right to vote - thought that in order to have a stake in the nation you need to own property to qualify to participate in government; very small percentage of the population qualifies -this system is problematic for two additional reasons; extreme problem with distribution of seats - old electoral system in place whereby constituencies are divided into counties and boroughs, which are not divided equitably according to population i.e. rotten boroughs; no correlation between population and members of parliament -second problem is associated with bribery, no secret ballot - system of voting is by declaration, susceptible to influence and bribery The Great Reform Act -through 1820s, working class radicals and middle class intellectuals are reviewing these issues -1830 another french revolution; corresponds to another economic downturn in Britain, government increasingly concerned that revolutionary fervour in France will spill over to Britain, sense that something must be done -members of whig party in particular, led by Earl Grey, begin to initiate a reform; debates are within parliament; point of reform is to create a system that will protect the power of the aristocracy and government; responsive to populace enough that by consensus everyone will recognize that the aristocracy is the rightful segment of the population that governs - all about a limited reform -passage of bill is dramatic; House of Lords vetoes bill the first time it reaches it; working class and middle class demand bill to be passed -on the day the bill is passed 1832, Britain is relieved, possible revolution is averted -significance of the bill: first step on the way to reform and increasing the franchise; bill enfranchises certain members of only the middle class, reduces property qualification; franchise expands and increasingly over time as property rises in price -Act is cautious piece of legislation, first step toward democratization of Britain; piece of legislation is radical compared to other european countries, in exception of revolutionary
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