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

What was the extent of political participation in eighteenth-century England?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

What was the extent of political participation in eighteenth-century England? In his book The Politics of the People in Eighteenth-Century Britain, H.T. Dickinson asserts that politics was, for the majority of people in the eighteenth century, experienced at a local level rather than at Westminster.1 This essay will argue that the extent of political participation in England at this time was great. As people from all social strata are affected by politics in their daily lives, they therefore have not only the opportunity but also the desire to be politically active. This could take the form of formal political participation, i.e. voting in elections, or, (for the many to whom this route was closed on account of social status or gender) informal participation. This latter can further be divided into categories. People could participate in crowd politics; demonstrating or rioting en masse to air their grievances, or, only a recent development in our period, people could be politically active through the printed word, or by joining clubs and societies. It has also been shown that women could participate much more than expected in the traditionally masculine domain of politics. Political participation in the early eighteenth century could only increase with the growth of the electorate to which this period was witness. In the counties, this increase can be explained by inflation devaluing the 40 shilling freeholder qualification.2 Estimates of the size of the ...read more.

Middle

It was during the Exclusion Crisis that the term "mob" was first used, which was short for mobile vulgus, Latin for movable or excitable crowd.7 Dickinson argues that crowd demonstrations and riots can be seen as the most common and effective form of plebeian politics in the period, not least because it allowed all members of society to participate in informal politics, not just the males eligible to vote. The actions of crowds took a number of different forms; they included the celebration with bonfires of events such as the anniversaries of the Gunpowder Plot and the accession of Queen Elizabeth I on November 17th, or the burning or hanging of effigies, quite often of the Pope, to looting and violence, the victims of which were usually Catholics. For example, the printing house of Henry Hill, the King's printer, who had published several works in support of Catholicism, was destroyed with his printing equipment and several hundred reams of paper.8 Crowd politics could be effective in alarming the authorities. William Sachse wrote that, while he does not believe the mob had an affect on the outcome of the Glorious Revolution as they were not well led or organised enough, without the rioting and mobbing, it may have taken longer to convince the peers and the magistrates of London to support William as a provisional governor. ...read more.

Conclusion

participate in the politics of patronage.19 Patronage was the economy of obligation and favour, through which "interest" and "influence" could be sought or exchanged through or for alliances and 'connexions'. Women often sought favours or preferment for themselves and their families, but, crucially, for other men and women, which "demonstrate[s] that women's involvement in patronage extended beyond the narrow boundaries of their immediate families."20 It was an important way for them to participate in political life, according to Chalus, because it took place in the realm of personal relations, bridging the gap between the political and social arenas through which women found they were able easily to navigate. Women in our period were able to fully participate in a kind of politics which was at once both formal and informal. We have seen, then, that the range of ways in which the people of eighteenth-century England could take an active role in politics, whether formal or informal, direct or indirect, or local or national, was significantly varied. Despite the fact that the right to direct electoral participation was restricted to male freeholders of above 40 shillings, the door to political participation was closed to no man or woman. Virtually all social strata could participate informally, through publishing or reading political ideas in print, using social contacts to secure patronage or airing their grievances in crowds on the street; that is, voting with their feet. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree 1700-1799 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 University Degree 1700-1799 essays

  1. To what extent did diplomacy effect the rise of the modern state from 1648-1815?

    Eastern Europe encompassing the entire Black Sea, to Baku on the Caspian Sea and modern Kuwait on the Persian Gulf; and was the dominate land empire of the day that the Europeans dealt with. The Persians, Russians, Prussians (Holy Roman Empire), Mughals and Chinese were other dominate empires that existed

  2. The Diary of Joseph Plumb Martin. Many historians regard the diary of Joseph ...

    Before becoming a reverend, his father graduated from Yale. He devoted himself to gaining an education as a means of gaining a livelihood after realizing he did not want to devote the rest of his life to manual labor. At the age of seven, Joseph was sent to live with his wealthy grandfather who provided him labor and education.

  1. What divided Whigs and Tories in the reigns of William III and Queen ...

    he had simply abdicated the throne (Smith, 1998)� - the Tory party had a complicated loyalty to the monarch, ranging from the majority believing in complete obedience to the minority Jacobite supporters who desired James back. It is this complication which was a factor in leading to the distrust of

  2. Eighteenth-century uprisings were in some important ways different than those of today different ...

    Another assumption of Maier's view is that rebellions were popular, expressing a mixture of local and great issues.10 Other historians have touched upon this,11 though this 'mixture' is indicative of incoherence within these uprisings. Many mobs attracted popular backing, but these groups were rising for dissimilar reasons: merchants attacked customs

  1. From the available sources, what can we say about the roles and status of ...

    The voices of colonised people and women often are more difficult to find. Lack of written records or other manifest signs of everyday life means that portrayals of indigenous culture need to be carefully examined. This essay is looking at perceptions and the author acknowledges that perceptions are the subject of both the perceiver and the storyteller.

  2. To What Extent was Coal a Cause of the 18th Century Industrial Revolution?

    firewood, water power, and wind power would have sufficiently supplied the energy needs of the eighteenth century economy with the hypothetical absence of coal. In the 1860?s 22 million tons of coal was used domestically in heating, cooking, and lighting ? a consumption valued at 2% of GDP.

  1. How was crime kept within tolerable bounds in England in the Eighteenth century?

    a large body of disorderly poor and the class relationships that fostered deference could not exist. However, despite these weaknesses in law enforcement and thus where crime did not remain within tolerated bounds, in general it is fair to characterise the period as one that held respect for the law and its processes and dynamically changed to meet new needs.

  2. To what extent did Britain benefit from her Empire in the Eighteenth century? ...

    However, it was also the case in India where the expansion of territory was due to the competition of France too. Firstly, they posed a threat in their seizure of Madras in 1746 and then in their interference with the rivalries of the Nawobs and Nizanis, with British victory in 1761.

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