Reform and Prosperity 1865-1873

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The 2nd Reform Act

In 2nd Reform Act (1867) - Act passed by the Conservatives under Lord Derby (Prime Minister) and Disraeli (Chancellor). Act expanded the electorate 

Motives for the Act - Liberals had formerly been recognized as the reforming party (Gladstone), Disraeli was concerned that the Conservatives would be seen as a party who did not favour reform. Disreali believed they would get credit for the reform and gain support from newly enfranchised men. In an effort to out-Gladstone Gladstone, the Conservatives introduced a bill that was more far-reaching that many politicians had expected. 

Successes and Failures 

  • + Number of voters increased from 1.2 million to 2.5 million. 1/3 of the adult male population were now enfranchised. Greatest increase of votes in bouroughs - Skilled workers (artisans)
  • + Increase in electorate encouraged parties to improve their organisation and appeal to new voters. Would encourage parties to pass social reform to appeal to the working class
  • -Redistribution of seats still didn't correspond with the size of the population. Urban areas under represented and rural areas over represented
  • -Majority of the population still didn't have the vote, including all Women. 
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Gladstone - Domestic Policy Aims

Gladstones First Ministry 1868-1874 His Aims:

  • Establish a Meritocracy - (Civil Service/ Army Reforms)
  • Reform for Democracy - (Secret Ballot)
  • Efficiency - increase freedom of oppurtunity (Trade Union Reforms)
  • Satisfy Pressure Groups
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Domestic Reform - Education

Education Act (1870) 

  • + State set up school boards, education reform acknowledged the role of state in educating children
  • + Education system more efficient, laid the foundations of education system.
  • + Responded to demands for reform from industrualists who feared that GB was falling behind in trade and industry because of the lack of an effective education system. 
  • + Due to the extension of the franchise and increase in education would result in an educated electorate
  • -Compramise policy. National Education League and Nonconformists unhappy as it confirmed the role of church schools , they wanted free, compulsary, non denominational education
  • -Denominational
  • -It wasnt free, although school boards could establish free schools in poor areas, voluntary or church schools - hence financial support for these schools
  • -National education league ran candidates again Liberals in 1874 election, Liberals also lost nonconformist support
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Domestic Reform - Admin

Army Reform: (1870-1872)

  • +Abolition of purchase of army commisions purchase, no longer based on status and wealth - establishing a meritocracy
  • +Organisation increased efficiency
  • -Liberals lost elite class liberal support

Civil Service Reform (1870)

  • +Introduction of public exam for civil service posts increased meritocracy
  • +Won support of middle class liberals - ordinary man given a chance
  • -Diplomatic and Foreign Service exempt
  • -Liberals lost elite class liberal suppport

University Tests Act:

  • +Pleased nonconformists as it allowed non-Anglicans to take up teaching posts at universities (Oxford, Cambridge, Durham) 
  • +Removal of privelage, moves towards meritocracy
  • -Angered Anglicans
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Domestic Reform - Licensing and Electoral

Licensing ( 1872) : - act restricted opening hours and increased the power of magistrates

  •  - A mild measure which satisfied neither side of the debate
  • - UK alliance didnt think it was radical enough. Disappointed liberal pressure groups who thought it was too leniant
  • - Beerage felt the restriction of opening hours was an attack on their industry. Allienated brewers and distillers who turned to support the conservatives. Public houses became centres of tory support

Electoral - Ballot Act (1872) :

  • + Introduction of a secret ballot signified a key step in achieving democracy in Britain and gaining voters freedom of choice at elections
  • Largely reduced intimidation at elections
  • - Did not end corruption and bribery. In 1883, Gladstone had to pass further corrupt and illegal practices act
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Domestic Reform - Social

Local Government Act (1871) - Set up Local Government board under a minister for health

Public Health Act (1872) - Creates sanitary authorities and medical officers. Local aluthoritied compelled to appoint medical officers who were required to send detailed reports to the Local Government board.

+ Both acknowleged the role of the state in Public Health

- However reforms not extensive enough

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Domestic Reform - Trade Unions

Trade Unions Act 1871 - legalised trade unions and gave them the right to hold property and funds. Aimed to win over the working class.

+ New Model Unions given the legal protection they wanted

Criminal Law Amendment Act 1871 - made picketing illegal

+Aimed to prevent violenice in striked by making intimidation illegal 

-Magistrates interpreted intimidation very widely. Caused great resentment amongst trade uinions who felt act was used to clamp down on their activities.

-Liberals conclided that a further reform of the law was needed. 

-Reform was a dissapointment for trade unionists, not extensive enough, it seemed the liberal government was taking back the legal protection they had given TU's earlier. Working class (artisan) support for liberals lost.

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Domestic Reform - Overall Conclusions

+ Improved efficiency - law, army, education, necessary if GB was to keep up with rapidly industrialising Prussia and US. Efficiency was Gladstones Aim 

+Attack on privelage and establishment of meritocracy - Civil Service, Army, University Tests. Meritocracy was Gladstones Aim

+Most reforms responded to the demands of pressure groups. 

+Acknowledged responsibility and role of the State

+Ballot Act largely increased democracy

-Alienanted many key groups in Liberal Party. E.g National Education League, New Model Unions, UK Alliance

-Reduced Liberal Support due to unsatisfied groups (Nonconformists - Education; Elite Classes - Army Reform, Trade Unionists and Artisans - Trade Union Acts) Some of these groups pushed towards conservatives.

-Most reforms criticised for being not extensive enough 

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Background On Ireland

Irish Famine Legacy - Potato Famine (The Great Starvation) was one reason for unrest in Ireland and dislike of the British Government. First group "Young Ireland" had the aim of repealing the unon with England. Increasing demands for political independance and Home Rule in Ireland. Marked the start of the troubles for British Gvt in Ireland. 

FenianismOriginal inspiration for fenian movement came from 2 young Irish rebels. James Stephens and John O'Mahony set up the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1858 to make Ireland "an independant democratic republic". 1860's - many drawn into it, 80,000 supporters in GB and Ireland, recieved opposition from Catholic Church. Fenianism evolved gradually, the movement arose from the remnants of the "Young Ireland" group. Militant but romantic nationalists, aim to achieve an independant Ireland by forcing the gvt to repeal the Act of the Union. Fenianism in England - 1867 - Manchester Martyrs and 1867 - Clerkenwell. 

Failure of Feninan Rising - Had little success as was inflitrated by British secret agents and was crushed. Although it had failed, the fenian rising was a turning point in Anglo-Irish politics. It was brought to some peoples attention that it was important to identify the cause of the violence and introduce some measure of reform to pacify Ireland - Gladston held this view. 

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Aims in Ireland

The 3 main reasons Irish were dissatisfied with British rule:

  • Land
  • Religion
  • National Feeling

Gladstones Aims:

  • End problems in land and religion - Gladstone detested violence
  • To maintain union - by removing extrememists 
  • Gladstone felt Ireland had genuine grievances that the British government should address. 
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Ireland - Religion

Existing Problems - 75% of the Irish population were Roman Catholics. However the national (established) Church was the Anglican Church of Ireland. It was unfair that Irish Catholics were forced to pay a tithe (tax of 10% of their income) to the established Church as well as support the Catholic Church. 

Irish Church Act (1869) :

  • +Ended status of Church of Ireland as established church. ecclesiastical courts abolished and church property confiscated. 
  • +Removed major and longstanding grievence of Ireland's primarly catholic population.
  • +Pleased and united Liberal supporters like Liberation Society. (First step to disestablishment of Anglican Church?) Also pleased non-conformists
  • -Strong opposition from House of Lords, Conservatives and Irish Anglicans (12% of population) - weakened protestant supremacy. 
  • -Oppostion in lords could have triggered a constitutional crisis if not for intervention from Queen
  • -There was continued unrest (although this could have been due to land problem not religion)
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Ireland - Land

Existing Problems - Most Irish land owned by absentee Anglo-Irish Landlords renting their land to tenant farmers. Little security of tenure, and tenants were often turned off the land without cause or notice. Mostly small uneconomic land units but if improvements were maade on smallholdings, rents were immediately raised. This discouraged any improvements - poor yield - tenant farmers unable to keep up with rent demands from landlords and were turned off the land - poverty and workhouses. Violence was common. 

Irish Land Act (1870):

  • + Responded to tennants,ensured compensation for improvements made to land.
  • +Tennants could only be evicted for non- payment of rent.
  • +"John Bright" clauses further aided tennants as they could purchase land through governement grant at 2/3 price.
  • -Enraged landowners including Whigs in Liberal Party- seemed an attack on rights of property. This pushed Whigs further to Conservatives.
  • -Act fell short of "free sale; fair rent; fixity of tenure" demanded by Irish Tenant League. Fair rent and compensation decided by magistrates (themselves were landowners)
  • -Agricultural depression (1877) led to evictions for non-payment of rent commonplace. 
  • -Generally regarded as a failure and caused outbreaks of unrest in Ireland. 
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Ireland - Universities Bill

Irish Universities Bill (1873):

-Complete Failure

-Attempt to set up new university in Dublin where catholics and protestants could study side by side caused massive objections from extremists on both sides. 

-Non-Conformists objected to state endowment of a Catholic University

-Liberals disliked clauses banning certain controversial subjects such as religion, philosophy and theology.

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Development of Irish Home Rule Movement

National Feeling - failings of land act increased discontent and highlighted the real grievances. Led to outbreaks of unrest in the countryside. Situation was worsened by the onset of Agricultural Depression in 1870's which further increased discontent. 

Home Rule Organisation:

  • HGA - Home Government Association set up in 1870 by Isaac Butt. It had the backing of moderate nationalists, some Catholics and to an extent the Fenians. They believed in achieving political independance for Ireland through peaceful means. They wanted to gain self-government for Ireland, a seperate parliment without breaking up the union. 
  • Home Rule League - HGA transformed in 1873. Strong Catholic Support. Not a united political party but had one common aim - to achieve self government in Ireland.
  • Isaac Butt died in 1879 and Charles Stewart Parnell, a charasmatic and self-confident leader took over. 
  • In later years the Home Rule Party would have a huge impact as it would develop into a strong political force. 
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Ireland - Overall conclusions

  • +Gladstone first politican to show interest/ understanding of problems in Ireland. He acknowledged problems and his failings to pacify Ireland in his first ministry would in the long term lead to him passing more successful legislation
  • +Removed most obvious abuses of Irish privelage in Ireland, encouraged hope that Ireland could achieve independance, increase in support for home rule.
  • +Some policy was successful, Irish Church Act - NonConformists and Irish Catholic Population
  • -Policies fell short of Irish wishes. Still poor and oppressed many outbreaks of unrest due to unsuccessful policies - Land Act and Universities Bill
  • -Some Liberal Supporters alienated, which drove them to support Conservatives. (Land Act - Whigs)
  • -Signifcant political miscalculation - Irish Universities Bill - complete failure, satisfied no group and temporary removal of Gladstone from office. 

In 1874, Disraeli and the Conservatives came to power. They were more concerned with disturbences abroad and appeared indifferent to Irish matters. However the Irish problem would later resurface with the return of Gladstone and the Liberals. 

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British Foreign Policy Aims

Britain - Trade and Empire were fundamental- Protect them using the Royal Navy (two power standard) 

  • Trade - Britain was an island, only a small amount of raw materials and natural resources. Needed imports to create large amounts of exports.
  • Empire - Huge empire, spread over the glove. 

Britain therfore needed to control trade routes. Gibralta, S.Africa, Malya, Turkey and Suez Canal (routes to India)

Liberal Aims:

  • Maintain Peace and the Balance of Power - Concert of Europe
  • Avoid War - Moral and Finance (War damages trade)
  • Aviod "entaglements"(Alliances which may draw Britain into war)
  • Empire is a duty and responsibility - do not expand empire, move to self governement for white dominions
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The Balance of Power in Europe

The balance of power within Europe was changing. This balance had been created at the Treaty of Vienna in 1815.

Britain differed from other great European powers. Geographical position and Island status. Vast overseas Empire. Royal Navy as Britains main military force for defence of its shores, protection of trade and protection of its Empire. Britains army was relativelt small compared with those of other European powers. 

Britain had recently gone to war against Russia in the Crimean War in order to preserve the balance of power. Britains main commitment was to the treaty of Paris (1856) which ended the conflict. It prevented both Russia and the Ottoman Empire from keeping warships in the Black Sea. Russia remained a threat to Britain. Russias expansian to the east (conquering of some central asian states) was nearing India, Britains jewel in the empirical crown. 

There was a major transformation in European international relations. Unification of Germany - became a leading european power > alliance system.

White dominions in the Americans gained internal self-government (Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Cape Colony)

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Gladstones Foreign Policy - Europe

Franco Prussian War (1871): - Gladstone thought neutrality to be the best policy in Prussias War with France. Prussias victory transformed the balance of power in Europe but Gladstones government didn't directly interven with the war. 

+Little involvement in FP war apart from agreement not to invade Belgium. Little contempary criticism 

+Belgium neutrality provided security for Britain due to its proximity across the channel

Revocation of the Black Sea Clauses and the Treaty of Paris (1871) - In 1870, Russia took the oppurtunity to pull out of the Black Sea Clauses of the Treaty of Paris. The Clauses had forbidden Russia to have a fleet in the Black Sea. To Britain these things had been the most important part of the treaty. m

+Acted according to "Concert of Europe" in calling Great powers Conference on Russian rencouncing Black Sea clauses. Statesmanlike and committed to peace

-When international conference accepted Russia's requests, the verdict was against British Interests. 

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Gladstones Foreign Policy - Empire

Attitude to White Dominions 
+Believed white domininons should be responsible for their own internal security. Believed GB Empire should develop as a group of white self-governing colonies. Gladstones attitude was not one of defeat but stemmed from a different idea about the development of the Empire. 
-Severe criticsm from Disraeli who claimed Gladstone and the Liberals wanted to "Dismantle the Empire". E.g withdrawal of GB tropps from Canada and NZ when they faced internal revolts, decision in 1870 to abandon Gambia to France. 

Defence of Gold Coast 
+Liberals were prepared to defend Empire when problems arose. GB sent military force to Ghana when King Coffee of the Ashanti threatened British Rule.

Alabama Award (1872)
+Payment of £3.25 million to USA as compensation for damage to its merchant fleet during Civil War, this ended a longstanding grievance between USA and GB
-Award was hugely unpopular in GB. Many believed that GB had broken its neutrality in the Civil War and so had no need to pay. GB interests not defended. 
-GB had dropped its own claim for damages, yet given in to USA claims, looked like a defeat

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Foreign Policy - Overall Conclusions

+ Gladstones attitude to foreign policy was not a weakness or lack of commitment but a different idea of how the Empire should develop (White Dominions)

+Gladstone was driven by desire to do what was morally right. Maintain peace and avoid war. Felt morally bound to respect rights of other nations even if they conflicted with GB's interests (Treaty of Paris and Alabama Award) 

-General dissatisfaction with foreign and imperial policy. Actions made Britain appear weak and willing to back down.

-Disraeli gave severe criticism which had some impact on 1874 election. (Alabama Award and White Dominions Attitude)

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