In July , however, the House of Commons rejected, by votes to 46, a motion to debate the Chartists' national petition, bearing 1. The aristocracy remained dominant: there were hereditary peers in the House of Lords in ; by they numbered ; in , there were The number rose to by Reform legislation in , , and weakened the aristocracy in terms of its control of the House of Commons. However, it ran the government: of the ten prime ministers under Victoria, six were peers. The seventh was the son of a duke. Two Peel and Gladstone emerged from the business community and only one Disraeli was a self-made man.
Of the cabinet members between and , were sons of peers. Wellington, the great hero who defeated Napoleon, served as the leader of the Conservative party in the House of Lords, — Some writers have belittled him as a befuddled reactionary, but a consensus reached in the late 20th century depicts him as a shrewd operator who hid his cleverness behind the facade of a poorly informed old soldier.
Wellington worked to transform the Lords from unstinting support of the Crown to an active player in political maneuvring, with a commitment to the landed aristocracy. He used his London residence as a venue for intimate dinners and private consultations, together with extensive correspondence that kept him in close touch with party leaders in the Commons and with leading figures in the Lords. He gave public rhetorical support to Ultra-Tory anti-reform positions, but then deftly changed positions toward the party's centre, especially when Peel needed support from the upper house.
Wellington's success was based on the 44 peers elected from Scotland and Ireland, whose election he controlled. Earl Grey had promoted reform of Parliament since the s, always to be defeated by the Ultra-Tories. The breakthrough came in his success in passage of the Reform Act of He sought this as the final step of reform, rather than a first step in a long process, emphasising the urgent need in to settle the intense and growing political unrest across Britain. He believed that the respectable classes deserved to have their demands for greater representation met, but he refused to extend political power to the mass of the lower middle class and working class, saying that they were not ready to be trusted with it.
He wanted to preserve the basic elements of the existing constitution by removing obvious abuses, thinking that this would strengthen aristocratic leadership. He persuaded the king to promise to create enough new peers to force the bill through the House of Lords. The king made the promise while also advising the peers to stop blocking the bill. The Reform Act was Grey's principal achievement; it reflects his pragmatic, moderate and conservative character, as well as his parliamentary skills of timing and persuasion. His cabinet was a coalition of diverse interests, so in when it divided over the Irish church question he resigned.
Palmerston played the dominant role in shaping British foreign-policy as Foreign Secretary , —41 and —51 and as prime minister —58, — The Tories despised him thereafter as a turncoat, and many of the more radical Whigs were distrustful of his basically conservative views that saw him fainthearted about or opposed to reform measures. He typically warned on the one hand against delays and on the other hand against excessive enthusiasm for reforms, preferring compromise. He was keenly sensitive to public opinion, and indeed often shapes it through his dealings with newspaper editors.
He routinely gave the same advice to foreign governments. Diplomats across Europe took careful note of his move from the Tories to the Whigs, and suspected him of sympathy with the reform movements which were setting off upheavals in France, Belgium and elsewhere, and which frightened the reactionary governments of the major powers Russia, Austria and Russia. In reality he drew his foreign policy ideals from Canning.
His main goals were to promote British strategic and economic interests worldwide, remain aloof from European alliances, mediate peace in Europe and use British naval power sparingly as needed. He worried most about France as an adversary, although he collaborated with them as in securing the independence of Belgium from the kingdom of the Netherlands.
He placed a high priority on building up British strength in India, He spoke often of pride in British nationalism, which found favour in public opinion and gave him a strong basis of support outside Parliament. Jeremy Bentham was an intellectual who focused on reforming English law. He was a leading promoter of utilitarianism as a working philosophy of action.
The "greatest happiness principle", or the principle of utility, forms the cornerstone of Bentham's thought. By "happiness", he understood a predominance of "pleasure" over "pain". He is best known for his inspiration of the radical forces, helping them define those reforms that were most urgently needed and how they could be implemented.
His intellectual leadership helped achieve many of the key legal, political, economic and social reforms of the s and s. John Bright built on his middle-class Quaker heritage and his collaboration with Richard Cobden to promote all varieties of humanitarian and parliamentary reform.
They started with a successful campaign against the Corn Laws. These were tariffs on imported food that kept up the price of grain to placate Tory landowners. The major factor in the cost of living was the price of food, and the Corn Laws kept the price high.
Bright was a powerful speaker, which boosted him to election to parliament in His radical program included extension of the suffrage, land reform and reduction of taxation. He opposed factory reforms, labour unions and controls on hours For workers, women and children, arguing that government intervention in economic life was always mistaken. He opposed wars and imperialism.
His unremitting hostility to the Crimean war led to his defeat for reelection in He was soon reelected from Birmingham, leading a national campaign for parliamentary reform to enlarge the suffrage to reach the working man. He was intensely moralistic and distrusted the integrity of his opponents. He loathed the aristocracy that continued to rule Britain. He held a few minor cabinet positions, but his reputation rests on his organising skills and his rhetorical leadership for reform.
Historian A. Taylor has summarised Bright's achievements:. The Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria 's rule between and which signified the height of the British Industrial Revolution and the apex of the British Empire. Scholars debate whether the Victorian period—as defined by a variety of sensibilities and political concerns that have come to be associated with the Victorians—actually begins with the passage of the Reform Act The era was preceded by the Regency era and succeeded by the Edwardian period.
The Union Movement (UM) was a far-right political party founded in Britain by Oswald Mosley. These plans were to form the basis for the policy programme of the Union Movement. to recruit Irish people living in Britain and Mosley wrote a pamphlet in entitled Ireland's Right to Unite when entering European Union. Report copyright / DMCA form for Ireland's Right To Unite - British Union Policy Pamphlet. Home · Report copyright / DMCA form for Ireland's Right To Unite.
Victoria became queen in at age Her long reign saw Britain reach the zenith of its economic and political power, with the introduction of steam ships, railroads, photography and the telegraph. Britain again remained mostly inactive in Continental politics. After the defeat of France in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars — , the UK emerged as the principal naval and imperial power of the 19th century with London the largest city in the world from about Thus Britain had both a formal Empire based on British rule as well as an informal one based on the British pound.
One nagging fear was the possible collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
The Boer republics were merged with Cape Colony and Natal into the Union of South Africa in ; this had internal self-government, but its foreign policy was controlled by London and it was an integral part of the British Empire. Prospect in He typically warned on the one hand against delays and on the other hand against excessive enthusiasm for reforms, preferring compromise. Perhaps he realised this as he never again embarked on an international anti-partition tour. Consider packing the following items:. Nuclear Prospect is the largest union for managers, specialists and scientists in the UK nuclear industry. In order that you may be able to fully understand the attitude of the British people towards the proposals put forward by the German Government, we the undersigned take this opportunity as representative of public opinion, to write and express our full approval of the proposals, and also our deep sympathy and understanding for the German people in their sincere effort to bring a lasting peace to the disturbed and troubled continent of Europe.
It was well understood that a collapse of that country would set off a scramble for its territory and possibly plunge Britain into war. To head that off Britain sought to keep the Russians from occupying Constantinople and taking over the Bosphorus Strait , as well as from threatening India via Afghanistan.
Despite mediocre generalship, they managed to capture the Russian port of Sevastopol , compelling Tsar Nicholas I to ask for peace.
The next Russo-Ottoman war in led to another European intervention, although this time at the negotiating table. During the American Civil War — , British leaders favoured the Confederate states , a major source of cotton for textile mills. Prince Albert was effective in defusing a war scare in late The British people, however, generally favoured the Union.
Trade flourished with the Union and many young men crossed the Atlantic to join the Union Army. In September , President Abraham Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation would be issued in 90 days, thus making abolition of slavery a war goal. Britain was long opposed to slavery, itself having abolished it some three decades earlier , and any possibility of its intervention on behalf of the Confederacy ended. London ignored American complaints that it allowed the building of warships for the Confederacy.
The warships caused a major diplomatic row that was resolved in the Alabama Claims in , in the Americans' favour by payment of reparations. Starting in , Britain united most of its North American colonies as the Dominion of Canada , giving it self-government and responsibility for its own defence, Canada did not have an independent foreign policy until The second half of the 19th century saw a scramble for Africa among the European powers. There was talk of war with France over the Fashoda Incident of The rise of the German Empire after posed a new challenge, for it along with the United States , threatened to usurp Britain's place as the world's foremost industrial power.
Germany acquired a number of colonies in Africa and the Pacific, but Chancellor Otto von Bismarck succeeded in achieving general peace through his balance of power strategy. When William II became emperor in , he discarded Bismarck, began using bellicose language, and planned to build a navy to rival Britain's. It restored good relations with France and the United States, and ended tensions with Russia, while the confrontation with Germany became a naval race. Ever since Britain had wrested control of the Cape Colony from the Netherlands during the Napoleonic Wars , it had co-existed with Dutch settlers who had migrated further away from the Cape and created two republics of their own.
The British imperial vision called for control over these new countries, and the Dutch-speaking "Boers" or "Afrikaners" fought back in the War in — Outgunned by a mighty empire, the Boers waged a guerrilla war which certain other British territories would later employ to attain independence. This gave the British troops a difficult fight, but their weight of numbers, superior equipment and often brutal tactics, eventually brought about a British victory.
The war had been costly in human rights and was widely criticised by Liberals in Britain and worldwide.
However, the United States gave London its support. The Boer republics were merged with Cape Colony and Natal into the Union of South Africa in ; this had internal self-government, but its foreign policy was controlled by London and it was an integral part of the British Empire.
The Queen gave her name to an era of British greatness, especially in the far-flung British Empire with which she identified. She played a small role in politics, but became the iconic symbol of the nation, the empire and proper, restrained behaviour. Disraeli and Gladstone dominated the politics of the late 19th century, Britain's golden age of parliamentary government. They long were idolised, but historians in recent decades have become much more critical, especially regarding Disraeli.