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A Detail on the British Empire Between the Great Wars, from 1918 to 1939.

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30-March-2003 History Assignment Roham Gharegozlou, 1oIB History Assignment A Detail on the British Empire Between the Great Wars, from 1918 to 1939 Language: English Subject: History Teacher: Mme Therrode Institution: EABJM Britain between the Wars (1918-1939) Introduction The Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28th 1919 and put an official end to one of the most terrible and brutal wars the planet had ever seen. The signing of the treaty was taken to mean as the first step to an era of peace and prosperity for the entire globe, and most definitely for the victor Powers of the war. Britain, along with France, despite being among the victorious in the war, nevertheless suffered great damages directly due to it and because of events following its end. Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister at the time, realized upon coming home from Versailles that "it would be as difficult to win the peace as it had been to win the war"1 The Irish Revolution and Independence Even before the war, tension was high in Ireland between the nationalists, who wanted to become independent, and the unionists, who wanted to remain part of the British Empire. The possibility of civil war was imminent, when World War I broke out and crisis was temporarily averted by representatives of both sides supporting, for the most part, the British war effort. One splinter nationalist group however, refused to support the war and in 1916 set up an 'Easter Uprising' where Dublin was taken and Ireland declared independent. The uprising failed, however, largely due to lack of popular support, and the revolutionaries were dealt with extremely severely by the British. This enraged Irish masses and set the stage for the Revolution. In 1918, Irish Members of Parliament (led by Sinn Fein, the largest Irish group at the time) refused to take their seats in Parliament and instead declared a free Irish state with Eamon de Valera as its leader. ...read more.


Mine owners could therefore see only one way of drawing profit out of their ventures: the cutting of wages. Miners, however, were obstinately and bitterly opposed to this, and called a strike. The miners had beforehand arranged a sort of Union alliance with the Railway and Transport workers called the Triple Alliance, calculated to increase the power of all three. When these wage cuts were announced and the strike called by the miners, however, their two allies refused to go on strike themselves, and the miners were forced to go back to work at their lower wages. In 1925, coal prices dropped again, and owners now proposed an increase the hours of worked per day from seven to eight, in addition to another wage cut. Here the triple alliance kept together, and the government, led by Baldwin, granted a subsidy to keep things as they were for nine months. Baldwin, however, did not intend to subsidize miners forever and so began making preparations for a second strike, including the creation of a volunteer force called the OMS (Organization for the Maintenance of Supplies) that would keep the country going in case of a large strike like the one anticipated. The miners also made preparations: they arranged for the support of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the body representing all trade unions. On May 1st 1926, when the subsidy ended, even though the TUC did not really want to go on strike, a General Strike was called and put into effect. The General Strike In this strike, in addition to the miners, workers from myriad different industries such as chemical workers, printers, engineers, and shipbuilders came out, grinding all industry and transport to a complete halt. The OMS set to work as planned however, and kept the country going at a more or less steady rate. Nevertheless it could not keep things going forever, and so the morale of the strikers was extremely high. ...read more.


On the social front, progress was made, but low funds and financial woes restricted any extra spending: in fact at one point in the early thirties, 'Public Aid' was cut down, with the dole especially being the main target. This was replaced for the most part in 1934, however. Also, the vote was given to women and all adult men, causing a giant increase in electorate. All in all, this was a period where all of Britain's weaknesses, especially in the fields of economy and trade, were all shown clearly and made worse. It was truly during this time that Britain's decline from world prominence was made clear, even though at the time of world war II it was still considered a Great Power, the British Empire's power and prestige had been worn away to a mere shadow of its former glory. Bibliography "Britain", Other Relevant Articles Microsoft(r) Encarta(r) Encyclopedia Deluxe 2002 (c) 1997-2002 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved. "Years of Change, European History 1890-1990" by Robert Wolfson, John Laver. (c)2001 John Laver, Robert Wolfson. All Rights Reserved. "Making History- World History from 1914 to the Present" by Christopher Culpin, (c)1996 Christopher Culpin, All Rights Reserved. "A History of the 20th Century World - Britain and Western Europe" by R.D.H. Seaman, (c)1983 R.D.H. Seaman, All Rights Reserved. "Britain", Spartacus Educational, http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Britain.html The History Channel "Britain between the Wars: Poverty or Affluence?", based on an article by Professor Michael Rose in History Review, no. 4 BBC History "The economy between the wars: the Depression 1918 - 1939", http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/timelines/britain/cen_econ_wars.shtml (c)2002-2003 British Broadcasting Corporation 1 Microsoft(r) Encarta(r) Reference Library 2003. (c) 1993-2002 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. 2 Christopher Culpin, Making History (1996) 3 a regular sum of money paid by the government to people who are unemployed. At this time in Britain an unemployed worker received fifteen weeks of unemployment pay, and then went on the dole, a paltry sum of money. After the 1931 cuts, this was barely enough to live on. 4 R.D.H. ...read more.

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