Explain Why the Great Reform Act was Passed
There are a number of reasons as to why the Great Reform Act of 1832 was passed. These reasons are a combination of public influence, parliamentary changes and forming of governments. In the following essay I shall explain and develop some of the reasons as to why the Great Reform Act was passed.
Firstly, one reason as to why the Great Reform Act was passed is due to the riots that took place after the first and second bill were defeated. As a result of these bills being defeated, the public resorted to extreme measures and the country was therefore plunged into the depths of another potential catastrophe. The public outcry reached revolutionary intensity once again, with mass demonstrations being held in several cities such as Birmingham, Bristol and many others. A ‘run on the banks’ was urged, with refusal to pay taxes – these protests placed Britain on the brink of revolution and as a result, the Great Reform Act was passed to prevent Britain from experiencing a revolution.
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Another reason as to why the Great Reform Act was passed is due to the closer relationship that was being forged between the middle and working class. This was a direct result of Thomas Attwood’s forming of the General Political Union – a group which organised rallies campaigning for reform. Its success was assured by its emphasis on peaceful protest. Early Grey wanted to split this alliance by convincing the middle-class elements that their future was assured by support for moderate reform. It is because of this increasingly close relationship between these two classes that the Great Reform Act was passed, to prevent an outbreak of public support from the influence of the General Political Union – which could have made matters worse.
Lastly, the Great Reform Act was also passed due to the fall of Charles X of France in 1830. Charles X had become increasingly unpopular with the French people and issued the Ordinances of St Cloud which sparked a revolution in the French Capital. The British Government therefore worried that if the French Monarchy had fallen due to a failure to recognise electoral grievances then surely there was the potential for the same to happen in Britain? This led to the passing of the Great Reform Act.
All in all, several factors led to the passing of the Great Reform Act. Three of these factors were the Riots taking place in the country, the increasingly close relationship between the working and middle class, and the fall of Charles X. The close relationship of the middle and working class played a huge part in the riots as their close relationship was exploited in mass demonstrations. Also, this idea of rioting can be taken from the revolution that took place after the fall of Charles X, which led to successful demonstrations (successful due to political alliance between middle and working class).