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Title:Reform Ideas of the Anti-Corn-Law Leaguers (Free Trade, Cobden, Radicalism, Manchester School, England)
Author(s):Spall, Richard Francis, Jr.
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):History, European
Abstract:Historians have long recognized the central role of the Anti-Corn-Law League and its members in promoting the cause of repeal of the corn laws and adoption of free trade, but there is much evidence to suggest that their interest in the cause of reform went well beyond the mere repeal of the corn laws or advocacy of free trade as national commercial policy. The range of reform concerns of the Leaguers was surprisingly broad and included many of the most prominent reform issues of the period.
Leaguers were interested in the cause of parliamentary reform, and their involvement in electoral activity led first to attempts at full exploitation of the existing franchise and later to activity for reform of the electoral system. League members took interest in a variety of domestic reform issues, too. Leaguers gave attention to economic distress and opposed the New Poor Law. They were divided upon the issue of state-supported education, but saw education and material advancement as essential for moral improvement. Leaguers advocated legal reforms and were instrumental in the adoption of the Penny Post. Free traders were interested in issues of land reform and church establishment especially as they pertained to Ireland.
Through free-trade spectacles Leaguers perceived elements of artistocratic misrule and class legislation. They saw vestiges of feudal privilege in the relations between landlord and tenant, and they perceived the landlords as holders of monopoly in trade, monopoly in religion, and monopoly in politics. Free trade, they believed, would promote world peace by strengthening international interdependence, and "Cobdenism" in foreign policy would promote internationalism and non-intervention while reducing aristocratic influence upon diplomacy and military affairs. Leaguers perceived connections between corn, capital, and commerce and advocated currency reform, retrenchment, tax reform, and colonial moderation.
Formally and informally, by participation and by encouragement, by example and by inspiration, by direct assistance and sometimes by mere acquiescence the Anti-Corn-Law Leaguers took interest in most of the significant reform issues of early Victorian Britain.
Issue Date:1985
Description:411 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1985.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8521884
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1985

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