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

Why was the passage of the 1832 Reform Act so contested when it's importance was so small?

Extracts from this document...


Why was the passage of the 1832 Reform Act so contested when it's importance was so small? During the early part of the 19th Century reform was placed low on the political agenda. This was perhaps due to the Napoleonic Wars with France which showed people the damaging effects war could have on the country. However, in 1819 the arguments concerning the reformation of parliament came back into the public's conscious. The growing role of the media acted as a new method of informing the public of their rights and the need for action. People were also being made aware through public meetings held by radical MP's that favoured reform. It is therefore not hard to see why in 1832 the Great Reform Act was passed. 'Old Corruption' was the name given to the voting system prior to the reform because bribery and corruption were the principle means through which candidates secured votes. ...read more.


The election process was not conducted on a single day but held over a number of weeks. The result might not be know for 2 months. There was no voting in secrecy. Voting took place on a platform amid an atmosphere of drunkenness and sometimes violent intimidation. Corruption was rife in terms of treating, cooping and the hiring of lambs. It is therefore reasonable that people called for reform in 1832. The 1832 Reform Act was seen at the time to be a solution to an ongoing problem highlighted by popular unrest. It attempted to correct the failings of 'Old Corruption' whilst ensuring the elites in society retained their grip on power. The Act consisted of two essential elements, the redistribution of seats and the remodelling and systemising of the franchise. The Act released 143 seats that were redistributed accordingly - 62 seats to English counties, 22 new two-member boroughs, 19 new single member boroughs, 8 new seats in Scotland, 5 new seats in Wales and 5 new seats in Ireland. ...read more.


In the short term, the 1832 Reform Act did not institute a dangerously democratic political structure. The number of voters doubled and approximately 717,000 people could vote. Those 717,000 consisted of 18% of the male population of England which meant that there was a 6% increase. It brought some of the upper middle class into order but till all interests and classes were not represented in Parliament. More people had the right to vote but they came from a more limited sector of society. With so many people till excluded from franchise, there began a realisation that the points of view of the people were not being recognised. So why was such a fuss made about this Act if it didn't change an awful lot? The Reform Act of 1832 had been the initial break with tradition. Before this event nobody had realistically contested the supremacy of the Upper Classes or tried to bridge gaps in the order of society. From now on it would be difficult to resist the demands for change and the extension of the vote to a greater number of people. ...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 ...

    Ultimately, obviously they were proven wrong. However from this source its clear to see at the time its clear to see why it could be seen as a very anti conservative, liberal act. The electorate was doubled, big industrial cities were given the representation they deserved and different qualifications such

  2. Why was the reform act of 1832 passed?

    Lord Grey, prime minister was able to persuade William IV to call a general election in April. The call for reform had constantly grown since the last election in June 1830 and so in the counties, where electorates were much larger Whigs made large gains, though Tories did remain popular

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

    Also, the middle class and most of the general public wanted many more representatives in Parliament and the House of Commons on the whole, because the tiny 558 MPs that were currently being elected into the House of Commons were not matching the soaring population of around 13,000,000.

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

    The instrumentality of reform is clear. The bill was not just a Conservative measure. It was also dynamic. In the 1830s and 1840s there were constructive social and economic policies, and the success of 1832 enabled Parliament to regain lost stature and command wider approval. This ties in with Mandler's thesis (1990, chs 1, 4)

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

    The expression "Hindsight is always 20-20" comes to mind when noting the years of this extract. Writing after the movement had been gives the journalist a great advantage when trying to leave a chivalrous legacy. These may not have been the views of the man, but as the movement had

  2. How do the poets in 'Charlotte O'Neils song' and 'Nothing Changed' show their feelings ...

    The poet shows his anger through the comparison of the cafe which the ordinary working class African has to eat in, and the posh restaurant available to those with money. Notice that both poets use contrast to convey some of their meaning.

  1. How successful was the Reform Act in rectifying defects in the political system?

    the problems in the political system and there were many factors that pushed government to pass a new bill. William IV succeeded George IV who died in 1830 and due to this change of monarchy a general election took place; this therefore meant that some anti-reformers lost their seats.

  2. Death is Part of the Process

    "How do you know this?" asked Will breaking the silence. "We managed to monitor a conversation between Shadow and Spider a week ago. I'm not sure if they've been in contact with each other since. The point is that I just want you to be more alert but not to worry because this might ruin your preparation for the final," said Alex.

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