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How close did Britain come to revolution between 1815 and 1821?

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Introduction

How close did Britain come to revolution between 1815 and 1821? Britain was not close to revolution, anytime during the period of time 1815 to 1821. Certain British people were revolutionary with revolutionary intentions but were unable to inspire enough of the population to cause major threat to the government and monarchy. The conditions in which the British were living did not give cause for revolution. A number of the working class were unemployed and generally angry, but nothing compared to the situation in France prior to the French revolution. The public was not on the verge of starvation, the majority of the British people were not unemployed although some were and not enough revolutionary people were gathered together at any one point - mass migration to Paris. If any significant number of the British public during this period were motivated enough for change, it was economical and not political motivation. The government had tight control over the actions of the public and at times when they felt necessary, drew up legislation to weaken public rights and was able to justify their actions as a response to the actions of the public. At all times the government prevented revolutionary ideas spread throughout Britain to uncontrollable levels, by different forms of repression. 'The popular movements never became revolutionary and the revolutionary movements never became popular.' ...read more.

Middle

The crowd was not politically motivated even though the Speneans were and so reached no nearer to revolution as there was significant lack of support. The government used this incident to pass legislation, the Seditious Meeting Act, preventing meetings of more than 50 persons and the temporary suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act these later became known as the gagging acts. All that was gained from the Spa Field Riots was that the government could justifiably use harsh forms of repression. 'strong ale and the prospect of loot rather than strong words and the prospect of liberty'. John Plowright. A few years later, in 1819 Hunt organised another meeting at which he was to speak about parliamentary reform at St Peter's field in Manchester. He applied for permission from the government - The Seditious Meeting Act - which was granted, essentially still leaving the government in control. The crowd was peaceful and not revolutionary to begin with but the government was prepared for the smallest hint of revolutionary action. As soon as the crowd appeared organised, linked together to barrier the yeomanry, the present military forces were ordered to violently hack down the crowd eliminating any chance of revolution. The crowd had no intention of causing trouble in the first place and when trouble arrived, the government had total control in preventing it becoming revolutionary. ...read more.

Conclusion

The whole affair involving Liverpool's consent to divorce George IV from Caroline resulted in the public rioting, this was easily solved by Liverpool changing his mind and Caroline conveniently died a month after George was crowned, the whole affair ceased to exist. The point at which the country was potentially closest to revolution the period post war, before any repressive legislation was passed. The government were concerned that Britain would face revolution as was happening in France. Before the Game Laws, the Corn Laws and the repeal of income tax the public had most chance of revolution without repressive laws preventing them, but ironically had little cause for revolution until these laws were passed and the unemployed could barely afford bread. This new legislation helped farmers and conservatives from the upper middle class and upper classes as part of the new protectionism policy. Those not helped but economically damaged, the demobilised soldiers, unemployed and the working classes were mostly angry and bitter, not revolutionary. At no point during 1815 - 1821 was the country at the point of revolution, government repression was too tight and could so easily draw up legislation when felt necessary. The majority of opposition towards the government was from economic motivation, those that were politically opposed suffered from lack of organisation and support in numbers, prohibiting Britain to reach a revolutionary threat to its government and monarchy. 'The government through their actions put a watertight blanket over radical activities', Marlowe. ...read more.

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