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Do you agree with the view that the main reason for the passing of the Reform Act in 1832 was fears of revolution amongst the Whig leaders?

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Introduction

Do you agree with the view that the main reason for the passing of the Reform Act in 1832 was fears of revolution amongst the Whig leaders? By James Bunn The passing of the Reform Act of 1832 was affected by the fear amongst Whig leaders however was the main reason? Other reasons such as Political unions, radical press, Public speakers (Henry Hunt) and the tory split. The Reform Act was introduce by Earl Grey in March 1830 but took until June 1832 to become law, this was due to the blockade it had in the House of Lords and without some of the prior mentioned reasons it may have never had become law. In source 1 Earl Grey is speaking to the House of Lords in November 1831, trying to persuade them to pass the bill. He says ?Reforming to preserve and not to overthrow? this means that the government needed to give the people some reform so as to stop them revolting. ...read more.

Middle

That sort of communication and risk would scare Whigs because the larger the group the more they have to fear. Lord Holland says that ?Fear of social upheaval is a recurrent theme? This is saying that the fear of Revolution is everywhere, this may be true as Public speakers such as Henry Hunt, In 1816 Henry 'Orator' Hunt spoke at large reform meetings: at Birmingham (80,000), Blackburn (40,000), Nottingham (20,000), Stockport (20,000) and Macclesfield (10,000). This level of public meetings at this time was huge. This level of public support would have made Whigs fear what might happen especially considering what had happened in France in 1789 (French Revolution) and again in 1830. Goodlad states that ?The most alarming feature of popular agitation was the involvement of the middle classes? This can be explained as Political unions such as the Birmingham Political Union (BPU) heavily involved the middle classes also in May 1831, middle class people rallied in London against the Duke of Wellington. ...read more.

Conclusion

The passing may not have been the fears of revolution but the fact that Grey was a great spokesman as he really believed in what he was saying. Also in Michael Smiths report he says that ?Their pursuit of reform was also self-servicing? this means that is was in the Whigs best interest to reform anyway. Charles Greville said in 1832, ?A Reformed Parliament turns out to be very like every other Parliament... except that the Whigs have got possession of the power which the Tories have lost.? Also Sir John Hobhouse commented in February 1832 that [Grey looked on reform as] "a mere trick of state for the preservation of power". Earl Grey used the reform to stay in power and it was not fear which motivated him it was power. In conclusion The Whigs were fearful of revolution as the sparks were beginning to catch fire around the country (BPU, Days of May, Henry Hunt ect?) it was defiantly going to happen, it was just when and who was in power, so he decided to use it to his advantage and it paid off. Words: 1,1014 ...read more.

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