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

Why was the reform act of 1832 passed?

Extracts from this document...


Liz Power Why was the reform act of 1832 passed? There were several major factors involved in the build up to the reform act which all led to the government having to enforce the reform act to keep the people happy. The voting system was extremely out of date, having not been altered since the 18th century and the government had not taken into consideration the demographic changes with had taken place since then. There were many rotten boroughs (Areas which had low vote to high representation ratio) and yet many fast growing cities like Leeds and Manchester had little or no representation at all which meant that no proportional voting was in place. The swing riots was an explosion in Britain at the time as it was such a huge movement of industrial workers, unhappy at low wages, high unemployment and new labour saving devices led the workers to attack machinery and burn barns which was affecting the amount of work in the country. This put pressure on the government to change, something they were not used to and caused panic in parliament as they were worried about a revolution which were rife at that time throughout Europe e.g. France. Another major turning point was the passing of the catholic emancipation act (1829) which caused outrage in parliament and led to the break up of the Tory party, many of them outraged at the passing of this act. ...read more.


This however was never put into force as, after many deliberations, it was defeated in the House of Lords. This caused a public outcry and anger. A significant sign was a black border in the 'Morning Chronicle' as a sign of mourning for the bill, riots and protests followed this, people were very anger at the treatment from the lords. The bill, withdrawn therefore again had to be compromised and this was issued in Dec 1831. It took until March to pass commons easily but lords were still hostile. At this point Lord Grey realised he had to do something and so he tried to create another 50 Whig peers from William IV but he refused and this led to resignation of Lord Grey. I think at this point people were sick of waiting and the excuses put forward by the Lords and again an eruption of riots and protests took place. Here William IV invited Wellington to create a new Tory government by they were inadvertently split and so Grey was asked to return to office amid high agitation. Attwood was calling a boycott paying taxes and one MP wrote "The whole country is in a state little short of insurrection" I believe that this summed up the mood of British citizens at the time. They felt betrayed and hard done by by the house of Lords who still remained hostile and so William realised he now had to act and so he created the required number of Whig peers to get the bill passed. ...read more.


The working class seemed to have an especially hard deal; those who could previously vote majorly lost that right. Also it seemed that government and the monarchy were trying to stop the working class from having a say in the country by leaving big chunks of the population out from voting i.e. labourers and industrial workers. I believe that all of this would have left the working class disappointed and they began to look towards trade unionism so that they had someone to stand up for their rights and beliefs in the workplace and a large number also looked towards Chartism, the more radical reformists to get the reform that they felt they deserved. I feel that the main importance of the act was not what it achieved as this was very little but that it was the first breach in the system and gave people a taste of what they desired, an equal voice in the running of the country. This shocked the Whigs as they thought that the reform would satisfy the population but it purely gave people a taste for more and future problems are therefore inevitable in Britain. I feel that the lack of actual reform within the bill is summed up quite well by M.G.Brook, previously mentioned, "Much the same men continued to run much the same system." Change was hard to come by but the people were ready for a fight to get the equality they demanded, this was no doubt not the end of the reform period for Britain. ...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. To what extent was the 1832 reform act the result of popular pressure

    The economic recession during the late 1820s had clear political implications for the towns, as an aristocratic government now seemed out of touch with the needs of Britain's new industrial economy. The economic problems were increasingly seen as in need of a political solution, and the 1829-30 slump put more

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

    Ministers lacked the intention, information and experience to go farther than they did. They were 'working in haste to carry out a political pledge' and 'did not profess to be logical'. Milton-Smith (1972) suggests that generalisation about reform is unhelpful, since the bill was a highly flexible tool.

  1. To what extent was the 1832 Great Reform Act introduced due to fear of ...

    Economic distress, reaching a climactic outburst of violence in the Swing Riots 1830-31 is one factor which illustrates the unrest and violence apparent in working class protests, adding to a threat of revolution. Historian Eric Hobsbawm argued that the successful working class revolution in France 1830 had an influence on

  2. Henry II (1154 - 1189) is generally seen as the main catalyst in the ...

    Medieval Sourcebook: Assize of Clarendon 1166' pages 1-3, http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/aclarendon.html [Visited 10/12/2002] 73. Ibid (Visited 26/10/2002) 74. Medieval Sourcebook: Assize of Clarendon 1166' pages 1-3 http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/aclarendon.html [Visited 10/12/2002] 75. The National Archives Learning Curve Education on the Internet & Teaching History Online Henry II http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/MEDhenryII.htm [Visited 11/12/2002] 76.

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

    This meant they was more of the chance of riots because they could plan them together and they felt they could make a change now they were all living together in the big Industrial towns. Considering this, the movement of people migrating from the agricultural farms and villages to the

  2. Do you agree with the contemporary view that the Reform Act of 1832 was ...

    industrial seats created was small, at between 50 or 60 out of 658 falling into this category. It is estimated that while Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool comprised over 2% of the population, they were represented by less that 1% of the seats in the Commons.

  1. To what extent does the Reform Act of 1832 deserved to be called Great?

    There were also still significant discrepancies in the size of constituencies, out of 73 of the borough which survived the 1832 Reform Act had fewer than 500 electors and 31 possessed less than 300 this shows that only 7 % increase composition of MP?s which shows that the reform Act

  2. How Successful was Edward Carson in His Defense of Unionism During The Third Home ...

    (Lewis, 2006, p. 81) It must be stressed at this point that the evidence shows us, that even though Unionists were in a minority in Ireland, and indeed within the nine counties of Ulster, Carson still manages to negotiate the possibility of concession on Home Rule.

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