• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Examine the view that the title the great Reform act given to the Act of 1832, is a flattering description of an important but overestimated piece of legislation.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

The Great Reform Act of 1832 Examine the view that the title the great Reform act given to the Act of 1832, is a flattering description of an important but overestimated piece of legislation. It was towards the middle end of the 18th Century that pressure for reforming the British political system grew. Those opposed to the current system of the time fell into two categories. Firstly, there were those who were from the Propertied Classes who had access to influential friends (be it in our out of government) and envisaged a slightly altered government in which control still lay in the hands of men with property and education. Secondly, there were those without much property and a much smaller income. These lower/middle class people believed that voting and choosing the nations rulers, i.e. the government, was a fundamental right and that the amount of property or money you owned should have no relation to your voting rights. Together, these two groups of people formed the parliamentary reform movement which significantly grew towards the end of the 18th century and then into the start of the 19th century up until the first reform in 1832. The growth of this movement can be targeted to 3 main reasons. The first was unrest at how influence or patronage determined matters at Westminster. ...read more.

Middle

In April 1831, Grey asked permission from William IV to dissolve Parliament so that the Whigs could secure a larger majority and in turn, pass through the reforms they wanted. William agreed to the proposal which set the ball rolling for the reforms. It was after Lord Grey's election victory that he tried again for parliamentary reform. However, on the 22nd September 1831, it was the Tories who dominated the House of Lords and after a long session of scrutinizing the bill in the Lords, it was scrapped. This led to outrage amongst the Whigs and many riots occurred throughout cities in Britain showing just how much the reform bill was approved. Grey did not give up, instead he pressed on with the help of Henry Brougham, a Whig-peer and the two men met with William IV and requested permission to create a large number of Whig-peers so a majority could be met. This failed however and Grey and his government stepped down as a result. William then asked the Duke of Wellington to form a new Tory Government to fill the power vacuum left by the Whigs. The Tories refused which led to William IV having no choice but to agree to create more Whig-peers which in turn, passed the bill. ...read more.

Conclusion

It gave the rights of property a new lease of life, under existing management and it secured political stability in the 1830s and 1840s. These revolutions in Europe depended on the extent of middle class leadership and as the middle class in Britain had been hitched to the higher echelons of political leadership, Britain was essentially safe. Were power to have solely stayed in the hands of aristocrats, Britain would have surely seen a revolution so the reform act did serve one very positive purpose. But perhaps the Great Reform Act was indeed great. Robert Peel, a Conservative at the time feared the bill would lead to more dramatic changes and he was right. It was impossible that the Reform of 1832 would be the 'final solution of a great constitutional question'. The act was seen as a 'stepping stone' for other reforms which finally awarded the working class with the vote and in effect, allowed the social classes to co-operate and collaborate. And that is what the act prevented, the 'crude supersession of one ruling class by another', surely a good thing. Despites its imperfections, its flaws and its lack of rights for the lower class, the Great Reform Act of 1832 set Britain on the right path to non-violent change, a precedent surely more appealing than a violent revolution. Therefore, the reform should certainly be valued as a positive start for constitutional change in the 1800's. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level British History: Monarchy & Politics essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Do you agree with the view that the 1832 reform act was a conservative ...

    Although it would seem that many men where under this impression i think that something on the scale would have been way too radical at the time. I also believe that the Reform act was again a conservative measure in that it did nothing to rid the system of the

  2. To what extent was the 1832 reform act the result of popular pressure

    The death of George IV, also had important political repercussions and was one of the factors contributing to parliamentary reform. His death marked the end of the reign of a man passionately devoted to the Tories and a staunch opponent of electoral reform.

  1. Why was the reform act of 1832 passed?

    Although his successor, William IV was not very enthusiastic he was prepared to go along with some changes. A general election also had to take place and reformers were delighted with this and so reform candidates did well meaning that Wellington was thrown out and a Whig government came to power.

  2. Why was The Great Reform Act passed in 1832 ?

    The government was able to manage the affairs of the country, but how could the government properly represent the nation in the House of Commons and the House of Lords if they did not have representatives from the leading Industrial towns?

  1. Interpreting the 1832 Reform Act, its origins and effects, has generated continuing debate among ...

    differs greatly from that of Phillips. In Taylor's account party was limited as an organisation and an idea. Consistency in voting took time to develop, as did party cohesion at local and elite levels, so that national platforms were not really significant until after 1867. Individual voter choice made little sense to contemporaries, adds Taylor.

  2. How important was popualr pressure in the passing of the 1832 reform act?

    The industrial revolution, had also created the urban working class, of which were also unrepresented. These two classes were in the majority so were very powerful under popular pressure. Furthermore, criticism of the regime had an economic motive in 1830, there was crisis due to crop failure, this led to unemployment and inflation in Britain.

  1. The changing position of women and the suffrage question. Revision notes

    In addition, due to their inferior qualities women would seek legislation in their own interests rather than the public good, unlike their male counterparts. * There were also real fears that women would vote for temperance reform. * Women?s influence outside Parliament * Many antis, including Mrs Humphrey Ward, argued

  2. How great was the Great Reform Act?

    actually lost their right to vote due to the abolition of such aspects. Open voting was also a very ?corrupt part? of the voting system that the act had failed to abolish, and so open voting allowed land owners and aristocrats to bully, bribe, violently persuade and intimidate people into voting for them.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work