Gladstone's First Ministry, 1868-74

Gladstone's First Ministry for OCR History AS Level British Studies

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Gladstone's First Ministry
Liberal dominant party à Gladstone dominant in Liberal party
Was minister in Peel's governments à Peelite
Chancellor of Exchequer in Aberdeen coalition à gained reputation for cutting taxes and
aiming for free trade
Supporter of Italian unification à joined Liberal party
Moved Britain towards a meritocracy à abolition of purchase of commissions
High Churchman à member of Church of England who believed Anglican services
should be like Catholic ones but without recognising the Pope as head of the Church
Supported the right of the aristocracy to govern
Many people in Liberal party opposed the privileged position of the Church and the
aristocracy à potential disunity of the party
Split into Gladstonian Liberals and the Liberal Unionists over issue of Irish Home Rule
1867 Reform Act widened franchise to include skilled workers and secret ballot
introduced in 1872 à both parties developed nationwide party organisations
Gladstone from older generation à 59 in 1868 when first became PM

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Liberal party was a mix of Whigs, Peelites, Liberals and Radicals à combined support
for Italian unification
Whigs were members of the aristocracy who opposed monarchic influence in politics à
landowners who normally sat in the House of Lords
Peelites were former followers of Peel, from industrial or commercial backgrounds, who
supported free trade à Gladstone
Liberals supported free trade, freedom of press and freedom of religion à from
industrial and commercial backgrounds
Radicals wanted radical change in certain aspects of British society like education…read more

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Faddism in the Liberal party à party susceptible to splits
Gladstone's first cabinet had 3 Peelites, 3 Liberals, 2 Radicals including Bright who
was the first nonconformist to hold cabinet rank, but largest group were the Whigs
Reforms were to satisfy pressure groups:
à New Model Unions
à UK Alliance and Band of Hope Union
Public Schools Act, 1868 à revised governing bodies of `Clarendon' schools like Eton
Endowed Schools Act, 1869 aimed to improve secondary education
University Tests Act, 1871 allowed nonAnglicans…read more

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Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland Act, 1869 à Liberation Society saw this as a
step towards their goal
Irish Land Act was seen as an attack on rights à pushed Whigs towards Conservative
Irish Universities Bill, 1873 defeated by 3 votes, forcing Gladstone to resign à Disraeli
refused to form a minority government so Gladstone had to continue as PM
Reasons for military reform:
à British military incompetence during Crimean War, 18546
à American Civil War
à Successes of Prussian army
Cardwell made…read more

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Licensing Act of 1872 gave JP's the right to fix opening and closing hours and check on
adulteration of beer à disappointed pressure groups and upset brewing interests and
`drinking masses'
Ballot Act, 1872 introduced secret ballot à candidates no longer nominated at hustings
Trade Union Act, 1871 gained legal protection for Trade Unions following the Hornby Vs
Close case of 1867
Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1871 made intimidation illegal which upset trade
unionists à intimidation interpreted widely by JP's
The Supreme Court of Judicature…read more

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Disraeli declined office in March 1873 à unwilling to follow pattern of Liberal
government followed by a short period with a Conservative minority
Liberal government disintegrated à Liberals fighting among themselves
Conservative Party reorganised à National Union of Conservative Associations and a
Central Office created
Disraeli's policy outlined at Manchester and the Crystal Palace in 1872 was popular
NEL disappointed with Forster Education Act à put candidates against the Liberals in
the 1874 election
UK Alliance disappointed with Licensing Act
New Model Unions wanted repeal…read more

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Home Government Association was formed in 1870 and grew rapidly gaining 58 seats
in the 1874 election, mainly at the expense of Irish Liberals à became the Home Rule
Party…read more


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