The Conservatives in the age of Peel 1834-1850

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Conservatives in the age of Peel 1834-1850
The Nature & Ideas of the Conservatives in 1841
in the 18th century, there was a tiny electorate. Politics had been dominated by the wealthy landowning families, the `Whigs' &
`Tories'. Tories were keen to defend the status quo; Whigs were more likely to embrace innovation neither wanted radical
changes that were proposed by the most extreme of MP'S ­ the Radicals.
H! The bulk of MP's were in neither group. These were the `Independents' who looked at issues on a case-by-case basis and
had to be courted by ministers and ministers depended on to their personal relationship with the monarch. ­ Politics of the
Elite. 1815, after Pitt the Younger, a more identifiable party division emerged in parliament. Many were concerned about this
`factionalism', fearing it would create an unpatriotic competition within the system. H! It was only in the 1830's that the
2-party system really began to establish itself. From that point until 1846 (Corn Law crisis), the Whigs & Tories acted as
opposing parties. The Tories were led by Peel & became known as the Conservatives. Although conservatives broke up over
the Corn Laws in 1846, the party remerged again in 1867. After 1867 a 2-party system of Liberals & Conservatives continued
until the 1st world war. There was a social difference; the lower classes accepted their position in society and tended to
respect their superiors.
Conservatives: wanted to keep society as it is (status quo), had a dislike for change & a distrust of Radicalism/intellectual
dogma. Conservative tradition in Britain was centred on an adherence to monarchy, the Church of England & the defence of
property. Unlike left-wing theorists, conservatives in the period were against the reordering of society. Even if those at the top
sympathised and felt bound to help those at the bottom, the order of society must be preserved. It has always attracted those
who distrust collective legislative solutions for social problems, but at the same time suited of the caring `paternalistic' rich. H!
Some conservative leaders have appreciated the need to adjust their priorities to encompass new voters & interests.
Although the landed interest maintained a dominant presence in the Tory & Conservative parties of the 19th century, the rise
of industry & a wealthy middle-class of capitalists lead to attempts to broaden & re-define Conservatism for the new society.
Peel was perhaps the most significant of those conservatives who aimed to re-shape the party this way.
Peel (1788-1850) ­ Conservative PM (1835, 1841-6)
1788 ­ Peel born, son of Sir Robert Peel, Tory MP & industrialist.
1809 ­ Enters Parliament, aged 21. He had been educated at Harrow & Oxford, attaining 1st ever double 1st in Maths & Classics.
1812 ­ Appointed as Chief Secretary for Ireland, after impressing Lord Liverpool, the PM. He retained the post until 1818.
1822 ­ Becomes Home Secretary. In this role he presided over penal reform and establishment of Metropolitan Police.
1830 ­ Whigs come to power: the Tories are in opposition for most of the next 10 years.
1832 ­ The Great Reform Act is passed ­ Peel's initial reaction is vehement opposition.
1834 ­ Peel's Tamworth Manifesto is issued, offering a more modern vision of conservatism as opposed to traditional
Toryism. Peel is now effectively Conservative leader.
1835 ­ Peel briefly becomes PM in a minority government, but is soon replaced by the Whig Lord Melbourne.
1838 ­ Anti-Corn Law League set up.
1841 ­ Peel becomes PM.
1842 ­ Mines Act. Chartist activity increased and a second petition to Parliament. ACCL begins vigorous campaigning.
1844 ­ The Bank Charter Act, Companies Act, Factory Act, Chadwick's Royal commission into Public Health in the large towns
is established.

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­ Maynooth Grant controversy. Potato harvest fails in Ireland.
1846 ­ Corn Laws repealed. Peel resigns after defeat in coercion bill. Lord Russell (Whig) takes over.
1850 ­ Peel dies aged 62, following injuries sustained from falling from his horse. Many W/C men send pennies to pay for
commemorative statues ­ many erected, all in the industrial north. The Times calls him `our chief guide from the confusions
and darkness that hung around at the beginning of the century'.…read more

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Movement towards free trade
The `Liberal' Tory government of the 1820's: Huskinsson had removed significant amount of tariffs to promote free trade. H!
There were still 1200 commodities subjected to tariffs. The Manchester School of Northern Industrialists, led by Cobden &
Bright, argued that high tariffs imports of raw materials e.g. cotton, wool and iron ore left production costs too high. Under
tariffs, imported food was too expensive; there was also the threat of retaliatory tariffs from other countries.…read more

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The Maynooth Controversy 1845
1795 = Irish Parliament ­ Maynooth college for Catholic priests to keep hopeful trainees away from the revolutionary
influence of the French. After Union with England ­ grant £9,250 a year awarded annually into the 1840's. H! The grant had
become inadequate, and it had become a politicised issues. Peel had experiences of Irish affairs, and wanted to conciliate the
Irish & hoped that by improving Maynooth's grant he could encourage a less radical young priesthood to come through its
ranks.…read more

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Case FOR Peel `the founder of Modern Conservatism' Alternative Views of Peel
Peel's staunch leadership rescued the Tories from a Peel was excessively cautious about public disorder
deleterious position after the Reform Act 1832. The stemming from reform. He defended Peterloo and
Tories were reduced to 150 MP's in Parliament & the six acts (Liverpool) as many Tories naturally did.…read more

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Liberals. Even former opponent Disraeli eventually
accommodated to the free market. Peel is a
conservative leader who remains unloved and
ignored by his party, yet his influence on the politics
of the mid-Victorian period is tremendous.
Peel is not the only part leader in British Politics who
has led his/her party where thought it ought to go.
Unfortunately for Peel, the Tory party of the 1840's
was not prepared to tolerate this.…read more


Julia Cushion

Brilliant, thank you so much!

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