Reaction and Reform 1815-1829

British Society in 1815

Reasons for popular discontent 1815-1820

Corn Laws 1815

Income Tax Repeal 1816

Game Laws 1816

Suspension of Habeas Corpus 1817

Six Acts 1819

Tory Economic and Social Reforms 

Were the Tory Party really enlightened?

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British Society in 1815

At the end of the Napoleonic war the political system had not changed. Only one in twenty four adults over twenty one had the vote, elections were held every seven years, there was an open ballot and parties were only fractions of one social class-the upper class. Society was run by the aristocracy who had money based on how much land they had. It was thought those without land were unfit to govern 

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Industrial Revolution

There was money being made in urban areas such as big towns and cities in factories, which meant money could not only be made through the owning of land. This led to the wealthy middle class, who in a lot of cases had more money than the aristocrats

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Corn Laws 1815

Guaranteed wheat prices for landowners and helped keep their profits the same as during the Napoleonic war. Saved landowners from cheaper foreign grain, stabilised prices and made it more expensive for the customer 

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Income Tax Repeal 1816

Income tax was based on how much you earned, so fell towards the richer part of society which was the aristocracy. It was a temporary way of financing war but in 1816 it was abolished. To replace the money brought in by income tax, there was an increase in indirect taxation on popular items such as beer and sugar. This affected the working class more than the Corn Laws because they used these items on a regular basis

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Game Laws 1816

Made poaching  against a land owner punishable for up to seven years or being sent to Australia. Again it protected the aristocrats 

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Suspension of Habeas Corpus March 1817

After the Spa Fields meetings the government reacted by suspending Habeas Corpus which enabled the government to hold people without trial for an indefinite amount of time based on radical or anti-government behaviour. 

However only a few people were held under this act and then released when the it was repealed a year later in 1818

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Six Acts 1819

Introduced as a response to events in Manchester. It was an attack on any possible threat to state. It included the seditious meetings act which banned the meetings of over fifty people

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Spa Fields Riot December 1816

A series of three meetings in Spa Fields in London, organised by a revolutionary group called the Spenceans. At the second meeting a break away group attacked a gunsmith and made plans to take over the Bank of England.

However it was seen as a movement by alcohol rarther than strong words and passion 

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March of the Blanketeers 1817

As a result of the Seditious Meetings Act (one of the Six Acts) a small disorganised group of cotton workers planned to march from Manchester to London. It was peaceful and legal but failed as member was brutally killed by the authority needlessly 

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Ludism 1811-1816

It first occurred in the East Midlands and in the North of England. Members expressed their dislike for machines in the textile industry as it left them unemployed

In reality it could be said the movement peaked in 1812

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Pentrich Rising 1817

500 disaffected workers set out from villages with the intention of attacking Nottingham castle. Local authorities responded harshly executing a member 

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Weakness in Radicalism

  • Divided between groups who used violent methods and groups who used non violent methods 
  • There was a lack of weapons
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How effective were the Tory Party in dealing with

  • Use of spies and under cover government agents could have exaggerated the threat in order to justify the harsh legislation
  • Suspension of Habeas Corpus and the Seditious Meetings Act were only used sparingly and introduced when threat was thought to be at its highest 
  • The Six Acts could be seen as common sense 
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Features of enlightened Toryism: Economic Policy

  • Reciprocity of duties act 1823 allowed free entry of foreign ships as past restrictions had led to British troops being banned from their ports 
  • Relaxed trade restrictions on British Colonies, so they were now allowed to trade with Foreign places
  • Robinson's main focus was to reduce the impact of duties on a varity of raw materials and customs such as duties on wool, silk, linen, tea, coffee and rum. To encourage demand and improve economic stability 
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Features of enlightened Toryism: Social Policy

  • Introducing trade unions: trade unions had been banned in Britain since 1299 because it was thought to be a threat to stability of the state and especially in the Napoleonic war when unity of the workers was needed. They were allowed because it was thought it would improve the relationship between employee and employer 
  • Penal code: over 200 crimes could be punished with the death penalty some stupid ones such as stealing a loaf of bread. In addition, there were such poor conditions in prison too. Peel passed a series of reforms between 1823-1830. Abolished the death penalty for over 180 offences. Goals Act was introduced which gave prisoners a basic education and ensured the payment for Gaolers
  • Metropolitan Police: 'Peelers', attempted to decrease the crime rate and created 3000 paid police men. It was financed by rate payers
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Were the Tory Party really enlightened?

  • They were only completing work that had been previously started in the reactionary phase of the administration
  • Reform was not carried out because of humanitarian reasons but to increase the efficiency of the country
  • There was still inequality for Roman Catholics
  • More people were not given the right to vote
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