- Reigned for 15 years, the longest reigning PM in the 19th and 20th centuries.
- There were mixed emotions about him, some liked him as a PM, others didn't.
- (see booklet 2, pgs 2-3 for sources)
Were the government well equippd to deal with the
- More reasons to support the government were poorly-equipped to deal with the problems: -
- The Tories were repressive and Vansittart lacked grasp of his subject.
- Some of the cabinet had bad manners and weren't very good at public speaking.
- Their role in helping the public was limited as the matters were outside the scope of the government.
Reasons for discontent in 1815
- The next 5 years was the closest Britain had ever come to revolution, except the Civil War.
- Economic after effects:-
- Fall in corn prices because of overproduction due to extra cultivation during the war. this lead to bankrupt farmers.
- Corn could now be imported again.
- Rich farmers layed off farm labourers.
- Industrial slump as ther countries were no longer buying araments and uniforms of Britain.
- Tariffs - these made it expensive to buy from Britain, therefore no one did!
- Ex-soldiers now needed jobs after coming back from the war.
Reasons for discontent in 1815 continued...
- Governemnt policy making things worse:-
- Cobinations laws made trade unions ilegal, this aroused resentment.
- Corns laws said that Britain could not import corn until their corn prices were up, so for the unemployed, this was diasterous!
- Tories were acused of just looking after themselves.
- Income tax was abolished which was good for the rich, but not for the poor!
- The government responded to many of the problems with repression, this was not a good move!
- They belived in radical change and were very in favour of voting reforms.
- Consisted of four main groups:
- Intellectuals: Followers of Tom Paine, they belived all men had a right to vote and once this was achieved it would lead to more benefits, such as redistribution of wealth, oap, free education.
- Gentlemen reformers: Henry Hunt was a big supporter. This was open to any man who could pay 1p a week subscription. they published leaflets and other propaganda promoting universal suffrage.
- Middle class men: most m/c men opposed radicalism but the few who did published leaflets, newspapers etc. the government tried to stop them with stamp duty, but this didnt have much effect.
- The masses: The working classes, it was their involvemtn that alarmed the government. bUt some historians disagree about the motivation of the working class. some see it as a response to economic hardship and toher see a new form of working class emerging. (a politically aware one).
Government policy in response to unrest 1815-20
- Spies and informers: pretended to be Radicals, went to meetings and met with reformers, found out and reported information to Lord Sidmouth. Encouraged reformers to take violent action and so they were arrested.
- Game law: made poaching and possession of rabbit catching nets punishable for 7 years. Was supposed to stop poaching after Corn Laws, but didnt really work as juries were reluctant to convict people.
- Suspension of Habeus Corpus: Spa fields that prompted the law, meetings that were a threat to the law (planned violence against them) were banned.
The Six Acts
The government's reply to Peterloo and it was the most drastic measures taken so far...
- Magistrates could search houses without warrants for firearms.
- Magistrates could search houss without a warrant for seditious literature.
- Drilling and military training by private individuals was banned.
- Only people from their own parish could attend political meetings, this was to try and avoid huge gatherings.
- Magistrates could trial people immediately, without having to wait for the approval of the judge or jury.
- Stamp Duty was increased to stop the poor buying radical papers, it also made it exensive to circulate them. An example is "Cobett's political register".