The 1867 Reform Act was the second major attempt to reform Britain's electoral process
Why did calls for Reform Revive in the 1860s?
Calls for parliamentary reform had largely died down since chartism. The situation changed and in the 1860s moves began for further reform of parliament.
- Since 1832 there had been further population changes. The industrial areas had continued to grow. Clearly some extension to the franchise and some redistribution of seats were necessary. (SOCIAL)
- Radicals inside and out of parliament kept up pressure for reform. Leader was John Bright who was convinced that the democracy practised by countries (e.g USA) should be tried in Britain. (POLITICAL)
- Emerging trade union movement of the 1850s- the 'New Model' unions- also called for reform. These unions were moderate and were for craftsmen who felt that they were responsible and respectable people who should have the vote. In March 1864 the Reform Union was set up to put pressure on parliament. (POLITICAL)
- The American Civil war was also a stimulus. Radicals viewed this struggle as one of freedom (the North) against tyranny and slavery (the South). It highlighted the ideas of equal rights and opportunities. (POLITICAL/ECONOMIC)
- In 1864, the Italian hero Giuseppe Garibaldi visited Britain. He had played a major role in the unification of Italy and was a liberal and democrat who captured the puplic imagination. His admirers formed the Reform League to campaign for reform of Parliament. (POLITICAL)
- Until 1865 the PM Lord Palmerston as vehemently against reform. He said 'I entirely deny that every same man has a moral right to vote'. But in 1865 Palmerston died and Russell became PM. Then Gladstone and he was too convinced that further reform of parliament was necessary declaring…