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The economic, social and political situation of Britain in the 1780's.

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Introduction

The economic, social and political situation of Britain in the 1780's. Britain in the early 18th century was a land where most people lived in the countryside and farm work was the common job. However, the imminent industrialisation of Britain was to change this and the open landscape changed dramatically during the Georgian period. 1750 heralded the agricultural revolution in response to the increasing demand for food. A series of changes were made such as 2,500 Enclosure Acts- making better usage of the arable land- and selective breeding- improving the quantity and quality of meat produced. However, proportion in farming fell and the labour force rose, in response to the appealing and exciting industries. By the 1780's Britain appeared, compared to two decades ago, in many aspects considerably modernised and there was a greater demand for consumer goods. An industrial revitalisation ensured that of all the changes that had occurred by the 1780's, the growth of the towns was the most apparent. This was merited to not only the prolific upsurge of population, but to the abundance of factories which had arisen from the creation of new machines and industry. ...read more.

Middle

By contrast, none of the upper-class families even worked and the boys were sent to elite public schools. State schools had not yet been invented and the poor had no way of receiving an education (except Sunday school) unless they could pay for it. It is obvious the government offered no intervention (there was no such thing as Social Services) for the benefit of the needy, but in the 1780's many poor became complacent by the attitude displayed by the church with its apparent lack of concern for the social welfare of the poor. The church grew weak in towns, failing to accommodate the congregation, leaving a religious vacuum. In the late 18th century, church attendance fell dramatically in the lower classes, after the church did little to alleviate the suffering of -one of the major bones of contention in Georgian time- slavery. The artist William Blake said he had "little time for the apathy of the church" and he regarded the industrial revolution with contempt; its "dark satanic mills, destroying England's pleasant countryside and creating appalling living conditions." ...read more.

Conclusion

The political state of the 1780's was far from supportive to the poor, nor justifiable. The government elections too were warped, with the rule that only 40-shilling freeholds were entitled to vote so like all other aspects of British life, landowners manipulated Parliament; thus rewarding other landowners for their loyalty, without moral scruple. There were only two parties in government, the Whigs and the Tories- effectively meaning the total absence of policies to help the poor- both parties were from the landed aristocrats and both vague in discipline and organisation. In conclusion, the situation of Britain in the 1780's was somewhat in turmoil. From one angle it was a more economically-stable and modernised country. From the other, the towns were the epicentre of the social problems; the lower classes melancholic desperation exploited by the rich, and the politics of the country unable to effectively improve anything but the life of the already indulged landowners. Said Benjamin Disraeli of Britain in the late 18th century; "There is no community spirit in England anymore... a large number of people in a small area means a harsh struggle for existence." SEPTEMBER 2003 PANDORA SYKES BRITAIN C18TH ...read more.

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