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Title:British Conservatism And The Primrose League: The Changing Character Of Popular Politics, 1883-1901
Author(s):Sheets, Diana E.
Subject(s):Primrose League
Great Britain
Abstract:This thesis has two principal objectives: to trace the organizational development of the Primrose League between 1883 and 1901 and to examine its role in creating a popular basis of support for Conservatism, thereby minimizing any losses incurred to the party by the enactment of the Corrupt Practices Act of 1883 and the 1885 Reform Act. A major reassessment is also provided of the Marquis of Salisbury, the leader of the Tories during the years under review. It is argued that Salisbury played a fundamental role in formulating the tactics and strategy of the modern Conservative party, the predominance of which is unchallenged to this day. Existing works by Ostrogorski and Robb provide only a general overview of the development of the Primrose League, omitting a detailed examination of the Minutes, the papers of Conservative party leaders, newspapers, and many primary and secondary sources. Here the first systematic study of the origins and development of the Primrose League between 1883 and 1901 is given. The first detailed examination of the demographics of the membership is also provided, based on the 1888 and 1899 Rolls of Habitations and selective membership rosters maintained by local associations. These sources suggest that the Primrose League achieved its greatest level of participation in 1888, when it claimed over a half million active members. In general the Primrose League was best represented in regions where the Conservative party was active, although its strength in the East Midlands testified to its ability to flourish in areas noted for their Liberal, Nonconformist character. The rank and file membership comprised predominantly members of the lower middle and middle classes, whereas the leadership was drawn largely from influential local notables. The thesis concludes with an examination of the political subculture nurtured by the League, an illustration of some local studies, and a summary of the League's performance prior to the First World War.
Issue Date:1986
Citation Info:Dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University 1986.
Genre:Dissertation / Thesis
Rights Information:Copyright 1988 Diana E. Sheets
Date Available in IDEALS:2008-09-23

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