Visual History of the World

(CONTENTS)
 

 


HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION & CULTURE

From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Photography
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
Prehistory
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists

 




The Modern Era

1789 - 1914


In Europe, the revolutionary transformation of the ruling systems and state structures began with a bang: In 1789 the French Revolution broke out in Paris, and its motto "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite"—Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood—took on an irrepressible force. A fundamental reorganization of society followed the French Revolution. The ideas behind the revolution were manifest in Napoleon's Code Civil, which he imposed on many European nations. The 19th century also experienced a transformation of society from another source: The Industrial Revolution established within society a poorer working class that stood in opposition to the merchant and trading middle class. The nascent United States was shaken by an embittered civil war. The economic growth that set in following that war was accompanied by the development of imperialist endeavors and its rise to the status of a Great Power.
 

 


 


Liberty Leading the People,
allegory of the 1830 July revolution that deposed the French monarchy,
with Marianne as the personification of liberty,
contemporary painting by Eugene Delacroix.

 

 

see also:

BYRON GEORGE

"Don Juan"
 

 


Great Britain
 


1830-1914
 

 

England's economic development was almost half a century ahead of the Continent's due to its early industrialization, but the working conditions were devastating and led to impoverishment of the workers. This made worker protection laws necessary, along with the gradual extension of suffrage to ever-widening sections of the population, to alleviate the social tensions. Under Queen Victoria, whose reign began in 1837, the economy flourished at first, but social problems remained and the worker movement demanded further reforms. The British colonial empire was gradually restructured in the 19th century to become the Commonwealth of Nations.

 


Political Reforms of the Constitutional Monarchy
 

The 1830s and 1840s saw a series of successful reforms in Great Britain.

 

After the death of 3 George IV, William IV, a king eager for reform, took the throne.


3 George IV, King of Great Britain when he was still
Prince of Wales, painting by
Thomas Gainsborough, 1781






see also collection:



Thomas Gainsborough

Suffrage was modernized in the Reform Act of June 1832, and at the same time an increase in Parliament's power was passed; because the 2 population in the cities had rapidly grown due to migration from the countryside, the division of the seats in Parliament no longer corresponded to the number of voters, and therefore the voting districts were reallocated in favor of the cities.


2 Poor quarter in London, ca. 1850

The Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 also provided for the election of city councils. The protest against the liberal suffrage reform of 1832 was the hour of birth of the Conservative and Unionist party of Great Britain, which endeavored to gain the increased number of voters. But the British Conservative party split in 1846 when Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel moved toward free trade.
Reforms were also necessary in the relationship between the confessions. Compared to the members of the Anglican Church, Catholics were greatly restricted in their civil rights. It was not until
April 1829 that—through the influence of, among others, 5 Prime Minister Arthur Wellesley, the duke of Wellington—the 4 Roman Catholic Relief Act was passed. Known as the "Catholic Emancipation," this law ended official discrimination against Catholics and allowed them to become members of Parliament.


5 Prime Minister Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington,
painting by
Francisco Goya, 1814




4 Cartoon about the reform laws concerning the
emancipation of Catholics:
"The Mountain in Labour -or much ado about nothing"















see also:


Francisco Goya

 

 

Arthur Wellesley, 1st duke of Wellington


Arthur Wellesley


prime minister of Great Britain
byname Iron Duke

born May 1, 1769, Dublin, Ire.
died Sept. 14, 1852, Walmer Castle, Kent, Eng.

Main
British army commander during the Napoleonic Wars and later prime minister of Great Britain (1828–30). He first rose to military prominence in India, won successes in the Peninsular War in Spain (1808–14), and shared in the victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo (1815).

Wellington twice reached the zenith of fame with a period of unexampled odium intervening. By defeating Napoleon at Waterloo he became the conqueror of the world’s conqueror. After Waterloo he joined a repressive government, and later, as prime minister, he resisted pressure for constitutional reform. False pride, however, never prevented him from retreating either on the field or in Parliament, and for the country’s sake he supported policies that he personally disapproved. In old age he was idolized as an incomparable public servant—the Great Duke. Reaction came after his death. He has been rated an over-cautious general and, once, Britain’s worst 19th-century prime minister. Today there is widespread appreciation of his military genius and of his character as an honest and selfless politician, uncorrupted by vast prestige.

Early life
Wesley (later, from 1798, Wellesley) was the fifth son of the 1st earl of Mornington. Too withdrawn to benefit from his Eton schooling, he was sent to a military academy in France, being, in his widowed mother’s words, “food for powder and nothing more.” At the age of 18 he was commissioned in the army and appointed aide-de-camp to the Irish viceroy. In 1790–97 he held the family seat of Trim in the Irish Parliament. At 24, though in debt, he proposed to Catherine (Kitty) Pakenham but was rejected. Arthur abandoned heavy gambling to concentrate on his profession. As lieutenant colonel of the 33rd Foot by purchase, he saw active service in Flanders (1794–95), learning from his superiors’ blunders. After failing to obtain civil employment, he was glad to be posted to India in 1796.

In India he adopted a regimen of abstemiousness and good humour. The arrival of his eldest brother, Richard, as viceroy enabled him to exploit his talents. He commanded a division against Tipu Sultan of Mysore and became governor of Mysore (1799) and commander in chief against the Marāthās. Victories, especially at Assaye (1803), resulted in a peace that he himself negotiated. All the successful qualities he later exhibited on European battlefields were developed in India: decision, common sense, and attention to detail; care of his soldiers and their supplies; and good relations with the civilian population. Napoleon was unwise in later writing him off as a mere “Sepoy general.” Wellesley returned to England in 1805 with a knighthood.

Wellesley’s new assignments were disappointing: an abortive expedition to Hannover, followed by a brigade at Hastings. But he felt he must serve wherever duty required. One duty was to marry his faded Kitty in 1806; another was to enter Parliament in order to repel radical attacks on his brother’s Indian record. He spent two years in Ireland as Tory chief secretary. On a brief military expedition in Copenhagen (1807), a welcome break, he defeated a small Danish force. When in 1808 the Portuguese rose against Napoleon, Wellesley was ordered to support them.


Victory in the Napoleonic Wars
Wellesley did not intend to be “half beaten before the battle began”—the usual effect on continental armies of Napoleon’s supremacy. With “steady troops” he expected to master the French attack. His “thin red line” of British infantry did indeed defeat Gen. Andoche Junot’s columns at Vimeiro (August 21), but the arrival of two superior British officers prevented a pursuit because they preferred to sign the unpopular convention of Sintra, whereby Junot’s army was repatriated. Public outcry brought about the court-martial of Wellesley and his colleagues. Though acquitted, Wellesley returned to Ireland as chief secretary. After the British evacuated Spain, however, he persuaded the government to let him renew hostilities in 1809, arguing that Portugal could still be held, a decision that was crucial to Europe. Landing at Lisbon, he surprised Marshal Nicolas-Jean de Dieu Soult, captured Oporto, and chased the French back into Spain; but a joint Anglo-Spanish advance on Madrid failed, despite a victory at Talavera (July 27–28). Though rewarded with a peerage for his offensive, Viscount Wellington retreated with his greatly outnumbered force to his Portuguese base, defeating Marshal André Masséna at Bussaco on the way (September 27, 1810). He had secretly fortified the famous “lines of Torres Vedras” across the Lisbon peninsula. Masséna’s evacuation of Portugal in the spring of 1811 and the loss of Fuentes de Oñoro (May 3–5) triumphantly justified Wellington’s defensive, scorched-earth policy and confirmed his soldiers’ trust in him. He was nicknamed “nosey” by his men, and “the beau” by his officers, for his slim five feet nine inches, the perfectly cut civilian clothes he preferred to wear, his wavy brown hair, and brilliant blue eyes.

His slowly growing army was not strong enough to capture the Spanish fortresses of Ciudad-Rodrigo and Badajoz until 1812. Then, having defeated “40,000 Frenchmen in 40 minutes” at Salamanca (July 22), he entered Madrid (August 12). His siege of Burgos failed and his army retreated again to Portugal, from which it was launched for the last time into Spain in May 1813. After a dash across the peninsula, he brought the French to bay at Vitoria, routing them and capturing all their baggage (June 21). This glittering prize was too much for the victors, who let the French escape into the Pyrenees, while Wellington denounced his drunken troops as “the scum of the earth.” The victory at Vitoria gave impetus to the European alliance against Napoleon, and Soult’s initial success in the Pyrenees could not prevent Wellington from taking San Sebastián and Pamplona. When dry weather came, Wellington invaded France, crossing the river lines one after another until on April 10, 1814, he stormed into Toulouse, thus ending the Peninsular War. (Four days earlier Napoleon had abdicated.) Already marquess and field marshal, he was now created a duke, with the nation’s gift of £500,000 and later of Stratfield Saye in Hampshire to keep up his position.

With Napoleon on Elba, Wellington was appointed ambassador to the restored Bourbon court of Louis XVIII. In February 1815 he took the place of Viscount Castlereagh, the foreign secretary, at the Congress of Vienna, but, before delegates could finish their peacemaking, Napoleon had escaped, landing in France (March 1) to begin his Hundred Days. The victory of Wellington and the Prussian field marshal Gebhard Leberecht Blücher on June 18 at Waterloo established the Duke as Europe’s most renowned—if not most jubilant—hero. “I hope to God that I have fought my last battle,” he said, weeping for the fallen. “It is a bad thing to be always fighting.” His hope was fulfilled. As commander in chief during the occupation of France, he opposed a punitive peace, organized loans to rescue French finances, and advised withdrawal of the occupying troops after three years. For these policies he won the gratitude of the peace congress, returning home in 1818 with the batons (symbol of field marshal) of six foreign countries.


Role in the cabinet
Wellington’s experiences abroad prevented him from ever becoming a party politician. Though he joined the Earl of Liverpool’s Tory cabinet as master general of the ordnance, he exempted himself from automatically opposing a subsequent Whig government: “a factious opposition,” he argued, “is highly injurious to the interests of the country.” His identification with the party of law and order, however, increased when postwar discontent boiled over in the Peterloo Massacre at a Manchester demonstration for parliamentary reform and the Cato Street Conspiracy, a plot to murder the Cabinet. The popular George Canning succeeded Viscount Castlereagh as foreign secretary in 1822. Despite Canning’s antipathy to the congress system, Wellington himself overbore George IV’s personal objections to him, believing that the system was by now unshakably established. When Canning extricated Britain from its European commitments, Wellington was left to bitter self-reproach. His own diplomatic failures at the Congress of Verona (1822), at which he vainly sought to heal dissension among the European allies, and in Russia (1826) increased his chagrin. Straightforward to a fault, Wellington was unsuited to carrying out Canning’s subtle policies, but he gained respect abroad as an honest man.

In 1825 Wellington turned to Ireland’s problem, formulating it as a basic dilemma: political violence would end only after the Catholics’ claim to sit in Parliament, known as Catholic Emancipation, had been granted; yet the Protestant establishment, or ascendancy, must be preserved. He worked privately at a solution, by which a papal concordat to ensure at least minimum control of Catholic clergy would be the precondition of Emancipation. When Canning, an unqualified Emancipator, became prime minister in April 1827, however, Wellington felt that Protestant ascendancy was in jeopardy. He and Robert Peel headed a mass exodus from the government, Wellington also resigning his command of the army. This action was interpreted as pique at the King’s choosing his rival for prime minister. In denying the allegation, Wellington rashly asserted that he, a soldier, would be “worse than mad” to consider himself fit for the premiership. After Canning’s death that August, he resumed his army command. Within five months Canning’s successor, Viscount Goderich, had given up the task, and on January 9, 1828, the King summoned the Duke of Wellington.


Years as prime minister
The Duke’s aim was to achieve a strong and balanced government by reuniting the Tory Party. Having reluctantly resigned again as commander in chief, he invited the Canningites, headed by William Huskisson, to serve, while dropping the ultra-Tories as incompatible with his policy of moderation. With the right wing thus alienated, a chasm began to open on the left. The opposition’s demand for extensive reforms met with sympathy from Huskisson’s group. Wisely, the Duke retreated, first on a church issue, himself reforming the Test and Corporation Acts that penalized Nonconformists, and again on a Corn Law (prohibiting importation of cheaper foreign grains) question, introducing a more liberal reform than he and the agricultural interest desired. Shortly afterward, however, he collided head-on with the Huskissonites on parliamentary reform; the whole group resigned in May. A further crisis immediately arose during the by-election in Clare, Ireland, where William Vesey-Fitzgerald, Huskisson’s ministerial successor, defending his seat, was defeated by Daniel O’Connell, the Irish Catholic leader. The defeat of Vesey-Fitzgerald, a popular pro-Catholic, carried an alarming moral for the Duke: until Emancipation was granted, no Tory would win in southern Ireland. There might well be civil war. In August 1828 Wellington therefore undertook the most exacting political duty of his career—the conversion of George IV, Peel, who was now leader of the Commons, and a majority of Tories to Catholic Emancipation, a reform that they had hitherto regarded as anathema. It took six months of indefatigable persuasion behind closed doors to win over the King. Peel’s position was equally problematic—as a publicly declared Protestant, he clung to the idea of supporting Emancipation only from the back benches; but finally Wellington’s patience and Peel’s generosity prevailed, and he agreed to continue leading the Commons. A number of ultra-Tories defied to the last Wellington’s order to “right-about face,” but the majority of the party obeyed. So in April 1829, though the Tories were split, Catholic Emancipation became law, the Duke’s greatest political victory, with melodrama being added by his fighting a duel with an abusive ultra-Tory, the Earl of Winchilsea.

Wellington has sometimes been criticized for inconsistency. It now appears that he was merely secretive in not taking the public into his confidence much earlier. His willingness for some form of Emancipation by 1825 might with advantage have been disclosed.

A demand for further changes, already stimulated by Wellington’s own achievements, was powerfully reinforced by countrywide hardship during 1829–30 and canalized by Charles Grey, the 2nd Earl Grey, the Whig leader, into fresh moves for parliamentary reform that would allow industrial towns like Birmingham to have a voice in Parliament, in place of pocket boroughs owned by the nobility and gentry. Expression of dissatisfaction with Wellington’s fatalistic attitude toward poverty and unemployment was made possible when the accession of William IV in 1830, following George IV’s death, provided a general election. France’s bourgeois revolution that same year—the July Revolution—greatly encouraged British reformers. Though Wellington’s ministry survived, it was weakened, and Huskisson’s sudden death frustrated tentative plans for reconciliation. Wellington saw parliamentary reform not as a panacea but as constitutional suicide. A fortnight before the opening of Parliament he wrote a letter to a friend denouncing reform as ruinous and disclosing his unalterable decision to oppose it. He staggered Parliament on November 2 with an uncompromising declaration against any reform whatever. A combination of reformers and vengeful ultra-Tories defeated him on the 15th. Peel made him resign the next day. He was succeeded by Grey.

As a soldier Wellington had shown uncanny ability in guessing what lay “on the other side of the hill.” Through lack of political imagination, however, he saw revolution beyond the hill of reform—“revolution by due course of law.” For this delusion he was deservedly called reactionary.


Last years
In opposition, the Duke proceeded to thwart Grey’s attempts to get a reform bill through the Lords. Wellington’s windows were twice smashed by radical mobs, and his iron shutters helped form the image of an iron duke. The titanic struggle culminated in the crisis of May 1832, which promised to end like the July Revolution of France. The King refused to create enough new peers to overwhelm the hostile Lords, Grey resigned, and Wellington failed to recruit an alternative government. Faced by tumultuous deadlock, Wellington, still opposing reform, then retreated for the sake of the country, persuading his followers to join him in absenting himself from Parliament until the Reform Bill became law in June. He was mobbed nonetheless by an angry crowd on Waterloo Day. “An odd day to choose,” was his only comment.

The Duke’s abstention had saved the Lords, and, as long as he led the Tory peers, he continued to steer them away from fatal clashes with the Commons. Whenever possible he supported the King’s government. In 1834 William IV dismissed the Whigs by a political coup, summoning the Duke to form a ministry; but the 65-year-old duke replied that Peel must be prime minister. This abnegation, most rare in a politician, did not go unappreciated. He served under Peel as foreign secretary (1834–35) and as minister without portfolio (1841–46). He also served as chancellor of Oxford, constable of the Tower, lord-lieutenant of Hampshire, and elder brother and later master of Trinity House, not to mention Queen Victoria’s father figure. He made a mistake in holding the chief command of the army throughout his last 10 years, because he was past initiating the reforms that were later sorely needed. Nevertheless, he showed a touch of his old genius in 1848, when his calm handling of a threatened Chartist rising prevented any violence. Thanks to his again ordering the peers to “right-about face,” this time over the Corn Laws, he enabled Peel to abolish them. Wellington retired from public life after 1846, though he was still consulted by all parties. Apsley House, his town residence at Hyde Park Corner, was known as No. 1 London. As lord warden of the Cinque Ports, he died at Walmer Castle, his favourite residence, from a stroke in 1852. He was given a monumental state funeral, the last heraldic one in Great Britain, and was buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral.


Personal life
The phrase “retained servant of King and people” and variants of it were used repeatedly by the Duke of himself and aptly suggest the self-dedication for which he is chiefly honoured. Many amusing personal peculiarities in clothes and correspondence, together with a gift for repartee, made him a “character” as well as a hero. “Publish and be damned!” was his famous retort to a blackmailer. His marriage was not happy: Kitty both feared him and worshipped him to excess. She died on April 24, 1831. Of his two sons, the elder edited his latest Despatches and the younger produced the grandchildren to whom he was devoted, as he was to all children. His intense friendships with Harriet (the wife of Charles) Arbuthnot, Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts, and others showed that he could have been happy with a clever woman; perhaps he was happiest of all, however, in the camaraderie of his staff—his military family. Some modern historians have objected to the posthumous title Iron Duke on the reasonable grounds that he was neither cold nor hardhearted. Yet he himself often boasted of his iron hand in maintaining discipline. His engaging simplicity and extraordinary lack of vanity were expressed in a favourite saying, “I am but a man.”

Elizabeth Pakenham, Countess of Longford

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 

 

 

The Chartists

Though the suffrage reform of 1832 meant a strengthening of the middle class, the number of voters was still very small— about four percent of the population. Consequently, in 1837 a London workers association presented the House of Commons with a "People's Charter."

The Chartists demanded universal male suffrage, with elections to represent the actual proportions of the population, secret ballots, and the payment of MPs so that poorer members could afford to stand for Parliament. Parliament rejected this, despite petitions with up to three million signatures and a general strike. The leaders of the Chartists were arrested during unrest in Wales in 1839.



The Great Chartist Meeting on Kennington Common, April 10, 1848, photograph taken by William Kilburn.

 

 

 

Chartism

British history
Main
British working-class movement for parliamentary reform named after the People’s Charter, a bill drafted by the London radical William Lovett in May 1838. It contained six demands: universal manhood suffrage, equal electoral districts, vote by ballot, annually elected Parliaments, payment of members of Parliament, and abolition of the property qualifications for membership. Chartism was the first movement both working class in character and national in scope that grew out of the protest against the injustices of the new industrial and political order in Britain. While composed of working people, Chartism was also mobilized around populism as well as clan identity.

The movement was born amid the economic depression of 1837–38, when high unemployment and the effects of the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 were felt in all parts of Britain. Lovett’s charter provided a program acceptable to a heterogeneous working-class population. The movement swelled to national importance under the vigorous leadership of the Irishman Feargus Edward O’Connor, who stumped the nation in 1838 in support of the six points. While some of the massive Irish presence in Britain supported Chartism, most were devoted to the Catholic Repeal movement of Daniel O’Connell.

A Chartist convention met in London in February 1839 to prepare a petition to present to Parliament. “Ulterior measures” were threatened should Parliament ignore the demands, but the delegates differed in their degrees of militancy and over what form “ulterior measures” should take. In May the convention moved to Birmingham, where riots led to the arrest of its moderate leaders Lovett and John Collins.

The rump of the convention returned to London and presented its petition in July. Parliament rejected it summarily. There followed in November an armed rising of the “physical force” Chartists at Newport, which was quickly suppressed. Its principal leaders were banished to Australia, and nearly every other Chartist leader was arrested and sentenced to a short prison term. The Chartists then started to emphasize efficient organization and moderate tactics. Three years later a second national petition was presented containing more than three million signatures, but again Parliament refused to consider it. The movement lost some of its mass support later in the 1840s as the economy revived. Also, the movement to repeal the Corn Laws divided radical energies, and several discouraged Chartist leaders turned to other projects.

The last great burst of Chartism occurred in 1848. Another convention was summoned, and another petition was prepared. Again Parliament did nothing. Thereafter, Chartism lingered another decade in the provinces, but its appeal as a national mass movement was ended. With the onset of the relative prosperity of mid-Victorian Britain, popular militancy lost its edge. Many Chartist leaders, however, schooled in the ideological debates of the 1840s, continued to serve popular causes, and the Chartist spirit outlasted the organization. Five of the six points—all except the annual Parliaments—have since been secured.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 

 


The Social Reforms of "Manchester Capitalism"
 

Over time, various innovations and a series of laws implementing social reform improved the living conditions of the lower class in Britain.

 

On August 16,1819, a demonstration of workers was suppressed in the "Peterloo Massacre" when the cavalry charged at a crowd that had gathered in the streets of
Manchester. It was soon clear to conservatives that reforms were needed to maintain domestic peace. The first of the Factory Acts had already been passed in 1802, making night work for children punishable and limiting the workday for apprentices to twelve hours.

The 10 employment of children under nine in mills was forbidden in 1819.


10 Child labor in an English coal mine following the industrial revolution,
painting, 19th century


In 1824 workers were granted the 7 right to strike and form coalitions.

As there was no state control, however, these laws were easy to circumvent. The first effective factory law was passed in 1833.

It limited the number of hours a day 6 women and children could work; children under age 13 were allowed to work no more than nine hours a day.


7 Impoverished worker with his family
during the dockworkers strike
of 1889 in London


6 Women work in a cork factory

A supervisory department controlled the implementation of the law.

Some of the improvements in working and living conditions are attributable to 11 Anthony Ashley Cooper, the seventh earl of Shaftesbury.

He encouraged "social housing" and provided schools for the children of the poor.

He also introduced a number of social laws, including the 1842 ban on women and children working in mines and, in 1847, the regulation of the ten-hour workday for women and youths 9 working in factories.

To maintain a high price for British grain, Parliament in 1815 passed a tariff against imports, known as the Corn Laws, but the resulting high price of bread elicited insurrections among the populace. George IV reacted by restricting civil rights, particularly the right to assemble and freedom of the press.

Only after heavy pressure was applied by the Manchester School—a group of textile manufacturers led by 8 Richard Cobden who, because of their interest in free trade, had allied with the workers—were the Corn Laws repealed in 1846.

The Anti-Corn Law League founded by Cobden and John Bright in 1838 demanded general public education and suffrage reform.


11 Anthony Ashley Cooper,
seventh Earl of Shaftesbury,
painting, ca. 1870


9 Pump station at a canal in Birmingham,
with Watt's easy working pumping machine


8 Richard Cobden
 

 

 

Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury

English politician and philososopher [1671-1713]

born Feb. 26, 1671, London, Eng.
died Feb. 15, 1713, Naples [Italy]

English politician and philosopher, grandson of the famous 1st earl and one of the principal English Deists.

His early education was directed by John Locke, and he attended Winchester College. He entered Parliament in 1695 and, succeeding as 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury in 1699, attended Parliament regularly in the House of Lords for the remainder of William III’s reign. He pursued an independent policy in the House of Lords as well as in the House of Commons. In July 1702 he retired from public life.

Shaftesbury’s philosophy owed something to the Cambridge Platonists, who had stressed the existence in man of a natural moral sense. Shaftesbury advanced this concept against both the orthodox Christian doctrine of the Fall and against the premise that the state of nature was a state of unavoidable warfare.

Shaftesbury’s Neoplatonism, his contention that what man sees of beauty or truth is only a shadow of absolute beauty or truth, dominated his attitude to religion and to the arts. During his lifetime his fame as a writer was comparatively slight, for he published little before 1711; in that year appeared his Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, in which his chief works were assembled. The effect of this book was immediate and was felt on the European continent as well as in England; indeed, English Deism was transmitted to Germany almost entirely through translations of his writings. Alexander Pope, Joseph Butler, Francis Hutcheson, Mark Akenside, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Immanuel Kant were among those who were to some degree affected by Shaftesbury.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 

 

Richard Cobden

British politician

born June 3, 1804, Dunford Farm, near Midhurst, Sussex, Eng.
died April 2, 1865, London

British politician best known for his successful fight for repeal (1846) of the Corn Laws and his defense of free trade.

Cobden was the fourth of 11 children of a poor farmer. Raised by relatives, he attended a second-rate boarding school and then entered his uncle’s warehouse in London. In 1828 he and two other young men set up a calico wholesale business and in 1831 opened a calico-printing mill in industrial Lancashire. He made enough money to enable him to travel abroad, and, between 1833 and 1839, he visited France, Germany, Switzerland, the United States, and the Middle East. During that period he wrote two influential pamphlets—England, Ireland, and America (1835) and Russia (1836)—in which he demanded a new approach to foreign policy, based not on attempts to maintain a balance of power but on the recognition of the prime necessity of promoting international economic expansion through the free movement of men and materials. He continued to advance similar free-trade arguments throughout his life.

Between 1839 and 1846 he became a prominent figure in British politics, devoting most of his energies to the repeal of the British Corn Laws, which he maintained were both economically disastrous and morally wrong. In his view, the only class that benefitted from protection were the landlords, and they were enriched at the expense of the middle classes and working classes alike. He proved himself a brilliant organizer, building up the Anti-Corn Law League, which became a national organization in 1839 and the most efficient and successful of all 19th-century British pressure groups. He entered Parliament in 1841, one year after he had married a Welsh girl, Catherine Williams. Thereafter, he could conduct his political campaign not only by mobilizing public opinion but also by directly confronting Sir Robert Peel, the prime minister, in debate. Cobden played a considerable part in converting Peel to take the momentous and controversial decision to repeal the Corn Laws in 1846. Peel then paid a remarkable tribute to Cobden as the man whose name, above all others, ought to be associated with the measure.

The seven-year struggle established Cobden’s reputation but left him financially ruined. A public subscription was raised for him in 1847, and, with part of the proceeds, he bought the house in Sussex where he had been born and continued to live there for the rest of his life with his wife and five daughters (his only son died suddenly in 1856). Unlike most of the radicals who shared his views, Cobden came from the south of England. Nor was he—as most of them were—a religious dissenter but rather was a member of the Church of England. Yet he and the Quaker John Bright were the acknowledged leaders of what came to be called the Manchester school, which espoused free trade and an economic system free of government interference. He sat in Parliament for the West Riding of Yorkshire from 1847 to 1857 and for Rochdale, Bright’s hometown, from 1859 to his death.

His association with Bright was close. They were at one in believing that free trade would result in the reduction of armaments and the promotion of international peace. They were at one also in demanding a reduction of taxation and a check on imperial expansion. One of Cobden’s most powerful pamphlets, 1793 and 1853, in Three Letters (1853), was a plea to his contemporaries to avoid “past errors” and keep out of war with France. During the next three years, he argued eloquently that Britain should be friendly with Russia, even after the Crimean War had begun. He was bitterly attacked for his opinions during the war, when he and Bright often seemed to be standing alone in face of belligerent public opinion. In 1857 he was successful in rallying members from all sides of the House of Commons to support a motion criticizing the aggressive China policy of Lord Palmerston, the prime minister. At the general election that followed, however, Palmerston won overwhelming national support, and Cobden lost his seat.

The attacks and his defeat strengthened his radicalism on domestic issues, and he was openly scornful of Palmerston’s middle-class supporters. He was ill at ease during the political lull of the early 1860s, when there seemed to be little interest in political reform. Indeed, he asked the working classes in 1861 why they did not have a leader among them who could lead a revolt against their political tormentors. He demanded a system of universal education and, after some initial hesitation, was a staunch supporter of the North during the American Civil War. There was no 19th-century Englishman who had a more confident belief in the future of America than Cobden. His correspondence with Charles Sumner, an American statesman and abolitionist, provided an important unofficial contact between Britain and the United States.

The most important activity of the last years of his life was his successful attempt to improve relations between Britain and France. Despite the differences in their political views, Palmerston had invited Cobden to join his broad-based ministry in 1859 as president of the Board of Trade. Cobden declined, but he worked indefatigably for a commercial treaty with France in 1860. The “most favoured nation” clause incorporated in the treaty, which stipulated that neither party could enforce against the other any prohibition on imports or exports that did not also apply to other nations, was to be duplicated in many later agreements with other nations. Cobden did not live long enough to see the eclipse of his free-trade hopes, which continued to be shared by the Cobden Club, founded to perpetuate his principles. The strain of the protracted Anglo-French negotiations undermined his health, and he had to spend many months outside London. He died in 1865, having made a last effort to leave his sickbed and attend Parliament to vote against new expenditures on national fortifications.

Lord Asa Briggs

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 

 


Robert Owen

In 1799, at the age of 28, Robert Owen became co-owner of a cotton mill in New Lanark, Scotland. The early socialist did not allow child labor, limited the workday to ten and a half hours, and so became a supporter of early labor protection laws.

His workers lived in a housing estate
built for them, their children attended school, and they could buy food inexpensively at shops he subsidized. Despite these additional costs, his factories were economically successful.

The Cooperative Movement, founded in 1844 in Rochdale, England, took up his ideas, which are still accepted today.



New Moral World, Owen's envisioned successor of New Harmony.
Owenites fired bricks to build it, but construction never took place.
 

 

 

 

Robert Owen


Robert Owen


British social reformer

born May 14, 1771, Newtown, Montgomeryshire, Wales
died November 17, 1858, Newtown

Main
Welsh manufacturer turned reformer, one of the most influential early 19th-century advocates of utopian socialism. His New Lanark mills in Lanarkshire, Scotland, with their social and industrial welfare programs, became a place of pilgrimage for statesmen and social reformers. He also sponsored or encouraged many experimental “utopian” communities, including one in New Harmony, Indiana, U.S.

Early life
Owen was the second youngest of seven children of Robert Owen, the postmaster of Newtown, and Anne Williams. He attended local schools until the age of 10, when he became an apprentice to a clothier. His employer had a good library, and Owen spent much of his time reading. His reading of books on religious controversies led him to conclude at an early age that there were fundamental flaws in all religions. Excelling in business, by the time he was 19 he had become superintendent of a large cotton mill in Manchester, and he soon developed it into one of the foremost establishments of its kind in Great Britain. Owen made use of the first American Sea Island cotton (a fine, long-staple fibre) ever imported into Britain and made improvements in the quality of the cotton spun. On becoming manager and a partner in the Manchester firm, Owen induced his partners to purchase the New Lanark mills in Lanarkshire.


Success at New Lanark
There were 2,000 inhabitants of New Lanark, 500 of whom were young children from the poorhouses and charities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. The children, especially, had been well treated by the former proprietor, but their living conditions were harsh: crime and vice were bred by demoralizing conditions; education and sanitation were neglected; and housing conditions were intolerable. Owen improved the houses and—mainly by his personal influence—encouraged the people in habits of order, cleanliness, and thrift. He opened a store that sold sound-quality goods at little more than cost and strictly supervised the sale of alcoholic beverages. His greatest success was in the education of the young, to which he devoted special attention. In 1816 he opened the first infant school in Great Britain at the New Lanark mills and gave it his close personal supervision. The schools, which eschewed corporal punishment and other traditional methods, emphasized character development and included dancing and music in the curriculum.

Although Owen initially was regarded with suspicion as an outsider, he quickly won the confidence of the people, especially because of his decision during an embargo against the United States during the War of 1812 to pay wages to the workers while the mills were closed for four months. The mills continued to thrive commercially, but some of Owen’s schemes entailed considerable expense, which displeased his partners. Frustrated by the restrictions imposed on him by his partners, who emphasized profit and wished to conduct the business along more ordinary lines, Owen organized a new firm in 1813. Its members, content with a 5 percent return on their capital and ready to give freer scope to his philanthropy, bought out the old firm. Stockholders in the new firm included the legal reformer and utilitarian Jeremy Bentham and the Quaker William Allen.


Philosophy of social reform
In 1813 Owen published two of the four essays in A New View of Society; or, Essays on the Principle of the Formation of the Human Character, in which he expounded the principles on which his system of educational philanthropy was based. Having lost all belief in the prevailing forms of religion, he developed his own creed that he took to be an entirely new and original discovery. The chief point in Owen’s philosophy was that man’s character was formed by circumstances over which he had no control. For this reason, man was not a proper subject of either praise or blame. These convictions led him to the conclusion that the great secret in the right formation of man’s character was to place him under the proper influences from his earliest years. The nonresponsibility of man and the effect of early influences were the hallmark of Owen’s entire system of education and social amelioration.

For the next few years, Owen’s work in New Lanark was to have a national as well as a European significance. New Lanark became a place of pilgrimage for social reformers, statesmen, and royal personages, and, according to the unanimous testimony of all who visited it, the results achieved by Owen were singularly good. Children brought up on his system were generally felt to be graceful, genial, and unconstrained; health, plenty, and relative contentment prevailed; and the business also was a commercial success.

In 1815 Owen convened a meeting of manufacturers and successfully lobbied them to support the removal of import taxes on cotton. However, his proposal to reduce the number of hours that children could work in the mills was defeated. His agitation for factory reform met with little effect, and by 1817 his work as a practical reformer had given way to the still vital ideas that were to make him the forerunner of socialism and the cooperative movement. Owen argued that the competition of human labour with machinery was a permanent cause of distress and that the only effective remedy lay in the united action of men and the subordination of machinery to man. His proposals for the treatment of pauperism were based on those principles.

Owen recommended that villages of “unity and cooperation” be established for the unemployed. Each village would consist of about 1,200 persons on 1,000 to 1,500 acres (400 to 600 hectares), all living in one large structure built in the form of a square, with a public kitchen and messrooms. Each family would have its own private apartment and the entire care of their children until the age of three, after which they would be raised by the community. Parents would have access to them at meals and all other proper times. Owen believed that such communities could be established by individuals, by parishes, by counties, or by the state; in each case there would be supervision by duly qualified persons. Work and the enjoyment of its results would be shared collectively.

The size of the projected community had been suggested by that of the village of New Lanark, and Owen soon advocated an extension of the scheme to the reorganization of society in general. His plan would establish largely self-contained, mainly agricultural communities of between 500 and 3,000 people that would be equipped with the most modern machinery. As the communities increased in number, he wrote, “unions of them, federatively united, should be formed in circles of tens, hundreds, and thousands,” until they embraced the whole world in a common interest.


The community at New Harmony
Owen’s plans for the cure of pauperism were received with considerable favour until he declared his hostility to religion as an obstacle to progress. Many of Owen’s supporters believed that this action made him suspect to the upper classes, though he did not lose all support from them. To carry out his plan for the creation of self-contained communities, he bought 30,000 acres of land in Indiana from a religious community in 1825 and renamed it New Harmony. Life in the community generally was well ordered and contented under Owen’s practical guidance for a time, but differences in opinion about the form of government and the role of religion soon appeared, though a historical consensus exists that an admirable spirit prevailed amid the dissension. Owen withdrew from the community in 1828, having lost £40,000—80 percent of his fortune. The other chief Owenite community experiments were in Great Britain—at Queenwood, Hampshire (1839–45), in which Owen took part for three years; at Orbiston, near Glasgow, Lanarkshire (1826–27); and at Ralahine, County Cork (1831–33). He was not directly involved with either of the latter two communities.


Leadership of the trade union movement
In his “Report to the County of Lanark” (a body of landowners) in 1820, Owen declared that reform was not enough and that a transformation of the social order was required. His proposals for communities attracted the younger workers brought up under the factory system, and between 1820 and 1830 numerous societies were formed and journals organized to advocate his views. The growth of labour unionism and the emergence of a working-class point of view caused Owen’s doctrines to be accepted as an expression of the workers’ aspirations, and, when he returned to England from New Harmony, he found himself regarded as their leader. In the unions Owenism stimulated the formation of self-governing workshops. The need for a market for the products of such shops led in 1832 to the formation of the National Equitable Labour Exchange, which applied the principle that labour is the source of all wealth.

The unprecedented growth of labour unions made it seem possible that the separate industries and eventually all industry might be organized by these bodies. Owen and his followers carried on ardent propaganda all over the country, and this effort resulted in the transformation of the new National Operative Builders Union into a guild and the establishment of the Grand National Consolidated Trades Union (1834). Although the enthusiasm of the unions and the numbers of labourers joining them were remarkable, determined opposition by employers and severe repression by the government and courts ended the movement within a few months. It was two generations before socialism, first popularly discussed at this time, again influenced unionism. Throughout these years Owen’s community ideas maintained a hold, and ultimately they provided the basis for the worldwide consumers’ cooperative movement. After 1834 Owen devoted himself to preaching his ideas on education, morality, rationalism, and marriage reform. At the age of 82 he became a spiritualist.

Owen’s autobiography, The Life of Robert Owen, was published in two volumes in 1857–58 (reprinted 1971).

Douglas F. Dowd
Ed.

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