THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION AND BRITISH POLITICS
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THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION AND BRITISH POLITICS I. The industrial Revolution and the emergence of new economic classes Industrial revolution: social and politic troubles provoked by the economic evolution. Between 1830 and 1832, there was a progressive end of English Ancien Régime. A. Some economic characteristics of the Industrial Revolution transition from a rural England with important trade and few industry (1760) ton an industrial England (1850) In the 18th century, there is a small scale industry, close to agriculture: it’s the domestic system or cottage system. It’s a part- time industry, at home with farmers and based on textile. Association between agriculture and industry disappears little by little. First, industry is located in mountainous areas (for the water power) in the North (the Penines). After steam engine invention, it’s located near coal fields in North but also around ports for raw materials imports. From 1820, old system disappears quickly. There’s a geographic and economic break between the North and the South. Concentration of means of production since 1820. large factories more and more numerous. Domestic system disappears between 1820 and 1840. There’s a loss of jobs and a social agitation. 1st part of 19th century is characterized by demographic explosion in industrial towns => over crow and lack of public health => creation of slums. B. Some social consequences Proletariat is an new socio-economic group who depends on its wages, the proletarian is a city dweller. Urban life is a sort of jail hated by workers. Until 1830, factory is constituted by workshops with many bosses. There creation of an advanced middle class. Shopkeepers live thanks to industrial workers, if the wages are low, workers are not buying. Alliance between shopkeepers and small industrialists. II. The distribution of power in early 19th century Britain A. The “Ancien Régime” 1. A landed elite holding the key levers of power Political power is in the hands of the big landowners. In England, it’s a landed aristocracy. Titled aristocracy sits in the House of Lords (peers of the Realm) 2. a political order resting on hierarchy and deference Big families established for centuries are accepted by population as superior. English society is a deferential society. Aristocracy manipulated voters. It’s easy to bribe them. 3. The electoral system 2 constituencies: counties: 1 Member of Parliament (MP) for each county and boroughs: 1 MP for each independent borough There are many voters in countryside because the freeholders of land worth 40 shillings or £2 a year had franchise. There were a few voters in boroughs and they were bribed. In pocket boroughs, aristocracy owns most of houses, in treasury boroughs, voters were bribed with money of Treasure, in rotten boroughs, there are a few inhabitants but 2 MPs. The electoral map was established at the 17th century, there are anomalies. 4. A legitimate for all that? The essential thing was the representation of “interests”, not of persons. 80% of MPs represent land interests. 20% are mostly trade and financial interests. Every Englishman could send a petition to the Parliament and obligation of debating it. The system was used until 1850, it created safety valves. B. Whigs and Tories 1. The Tories It’s the more conservative part of aristocracy. They want to maintain political powers for crown. In England, there is a set of institutions which rest on 3 pillars: throne, land and altar for the Tories. They are afraid of industrialists. Most of them were not Anglicans and belonged to disserting sects. 2. The Whigs They are opposed to the Tories since the 17th century. For them, Parliament powers have to be increased. Whigs embodied the more liberal part of aristocracy. This party had the favor of the industrialists. This party had the favor of the industrialists. Around 1815, political system have to widen parliamentary representation of middle classes but have to stay based on private property, it’s the base of citizenship. In 1815, Whigs wanted to get back at power but electoral system was favoring the Tories. Reform Act of 1832 will help Whigs to apply their ideas and theories. III. The oligarchy under fire: the Reform Bill of 1832 A. The emergence and containment of popular radicalism 1. “Radicalism” defined. Middle class versus working class radicalism A radical is every person wanting great reforms of society, which can lead to a revolution of the established order. There are different kinds of radicalism: middle-class radicalism and working-class radicalism. 2. Popular radicalism before 1815: limited and resistible The program of the parliamentary reform is going to be the object of a violent agitation orchestrated by radicals between 1816 and 1820. They want manhood suffrage, annual Parliament and secret ballot. Radical reformers are opposed to moderate reformers who want household suffrage. 3. Working class unrest between 1815 and 1820 Twenty years of war => low wages, lack of food, continental blockade. Between 1816 and 1819, economic recession is worsening life condition of working-class. Economic discontent lead to a political discontent. The principal reason is the burden of taxation. Workers have to be represented at Parliament because an old principle says : no taxation without representation. People had the impression that aristocracy forgot moral principles: hierarchy and paternalism. In economic liberalism, labor market is regulated by law of supply and demand. Parliament has to interfere for a minimal wage. Parliament has dismantled an old social legislation from the 16th century which protected workers from boss. Economic discontent become political. After 1815, radical movements organized in the country manifestations. Agitation will last 3 years. Aristocracy state stay in power for 2 reasons: radicalism afraid people and British government knows how to resolve crises and use a judicious repression. B. The rise of middle class discontent 1. the industrial middle-class: from economic grouping to political class. The need for an independent representation in the Commons Industrial middle-class doesn’t accept land aristocracy domination. There are 3 phases between 1780 and 1815: take of consciousness of mutual economic interests economic interests not the same as other groups => class consciousness interests often opposed to other economic groups, need of a share of political power. 2. James Mill and David Ricardo: the aristocrat as parasite, the bourgeois as natural leader Aristocrats are not producers, they are land renters. Bourgeois are producers of wealth, they should be the leaders. English government stay close to an economic doctrine existing since the 17th century: mercantilism. The corn law vote prove that agriculture interests dominate others economic interests. The goal of mercantilism is the development national production protecting it from foreign competition. C. The Whigs, the middle classes and electoral reform 1. The implosion of the Tory party Tory party was in power this time and the prime Minister was the Duke of Wellington. In 1828, two parliamentary seats belonging to rotten boroughs are free and maybe two industrious towns are going to take them. But government is opposed to that because of the Conservative part of party. The liberal part of the party is discontent. In 1829, government wants to give catholic emancipation because of an unstable situation in Ireland but the ultra Tories are discontent too. On November 1830, Wellington government is beaten in a vote and Wellington resigned. The new Prime minister is the leader of the Whigs: Lord Grey. It’s possible for the Whigs to establish an electoral reform which permit to give vote right to a part of middle-class. For the radicalism, it’s a weakening of aristocratic power. Creation of political union: some are strictly working-class and revolutionary, others are middle-class and working-class, more moderate. 2. Consolidating the Constitution: the Whig’s aim The Whigs thought about a moderate reform. For them, no right of vote for the working-class. Agitation between 1830-1832 will lead to the 1st Reform Act because of a fear of revolution. There’s an introduction of a Bill by Lord John Russel in the House of Commons on March 1831. The aim is to defuse revolutionary thoughts of middle-classes. For Whigs, basis of political power is property. For Tories, it’s better to keep status quo of before 1832. On July 1832, Reform act is definitely voted but most of Tories abstained. 3. The terms of the 1832 Reform Bill There’s a redistribution of seats in favor of the new industrial towns (for a half) and a reinforcement of landing interests with the other half for the counties. Influence of landed interests is preserved in the countryside. The property principle in politics retained: generally speaking, no representation for factory workers and farm laborers. The franchise is granted to a new category of voters: £10 householders, tenant farmers, 40 shillings freeholders, £50 tenants will. 4. Conclusion: a prophylactic bill The Reform is a stratagem of the landed aristocracy to preserve their predominance in the process of law making. English electorate who was tiny is increased of 50% after the Reform. There are few workers among voters because the threshold isn’t reached. Middle-class wanted more political importance for the Whigs. They drafted the reform Bill knowing what middle- class wanted. But it’s also, a 1st unwitting step towards a more democratic and more parliamentary system of government. It’s the beginning of the end for the agrarian order. This Reform Act recognize the importance of the franchise for people. Economic interests are not only represented but also the people. Workers are counted out of the system but the more the standard of living will increase, the more workers will vote. During the 20 years after, part of the Reform Act was to avoid a clash between the landing aristocracy and the industrious middle-class. There’s a financial, economic, psychological rallying of aristocracy to a middle-class outlook.