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UK Tories vs Whigs in the 19th century: broad political classification?

UK Tories vs Whigs in the 19th century: broad political classification?


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I realise that it's hard providing a direct parallel to today, but is it roughly fair to say that the Tories were analogous to modern conservatives and the Whigs were closer to modern progressives?

Or does the vastly different levels of suffrage mean that a correlation to today is pretty much impossible. If so, what is a good generalisation? Whigs = supported by trade; Tories = supported by the aristocracy and landed gentry?

As a follow up: I have a vague understanding that Queen Vic was sympathetic to the Whigs due to the events that led up to the Bedchamber Crisis, but was this more because of personal affection for her ladies-in-waiting rather than ideology?

Thanks in advance.


As noted in this article from Encylopedia Britannica 1911, the great dividing issue between Whigs and Tories through most of the 18th century was on the role of the crown in the executive of the government. The Tory position was that the King was his own "Prime Minister", a hands-on chief executive in the current American model. The Whig position was one of Parliamentary supremacy, with the "majority leader" in the Commons acting as chief executive of the government, with the King a figurehead, after the current British and Canadian model:

On the whole, during the last years of the 17th and the first years of the 18th century the Whigs may be regarded as the party of the great landowners, and of the merchants and tradesmen, the Tories as the party of the smaller landowners and the country clergy.
… the real conflict was between the corrupt influence of the crown and the influence of a clique of great landowners resting on their possession of electoral power through the rotten boroughs

With the madness of King George III, and changed priorities following the French Revolution, the dividing issues between the parties became Parliamentary reform (Tories initially pro, then later con) and continuance (or not) of the war(s) against The French Republic and Empire. Although the old party names continued in use, many important members of both had re-aligned.

In the years following Waterloo, and triggered by Wellington's refusal in 1830 to support any Parliamentary Reform, the Tory and Whig parties splintered to be replaced by the new Conservative Party and Liberal Party.

Many senior members of the Conservative party continued to think of themselves as Tories, and to refer to themselves as such, such that the appellation is still in common use today:

Shortly afterwards the name Tory gave place to that of Conservative (q.v.), though it was cherished by those Conservatives… , and who disliked to be branded with a purely negative appellation, and it was also retained as a term of opprobrium by the Liberals for those whom they regarded as old-fashioned opponents of reform

In contrast, few if any senior members of the new Liberal party thought or referred to themselves as Whigs. The name rapidly fell out of fashion in Great Britain though it continues in popular use in Canada to refer to the Federal Liberal Party.

It [Whig] ceased to be a name accepted by any definite English political section.

Thus in answer to your question, by the time of Queen Victoria's ascension in 1837, both the Whig and Tory parties were defunct, replaced by the Conservative and Liberal parties. For the preceding several decades they had both been diverging from their defining ideologies as they diminished in importance on the political landscape.


The Politics of Alcohol: a History of the Drink Question in England

In Britain today, alcohol is a topic of concern to the government, media, and academics alike. The papers tell of ‘Binge Britain’, and academics inform us that there is a new kind of drinking and intoxication that attracts young people to our city centres. In 2003 the government made perhaps the most dramatic change to licensing since the First World War – in the name of changing people’s drinking habits – and has commissioned research and spent millions of pounds on public education campaigns to address what it sees as the serious problem of young people’s drinking. James Nicholls’ historical consideration of drinking and the politics surrounding it is therefore timely, particularly given the way in which historical precedent such as the ‘Gin Craze’ is itself invoked in the media to understand British drinking patterns today (1) and the common criticism that New Labour (and especially Tony Blair) have no ‘sense of history’.(2)

Despite being called The Politics of Alcohol, the book is not a study of high politics and policy-making. John Greenaway has already provided an account of alcohol policy in Britain in this vein, running from 1830 to 1970.(3) Nicholls’ work differs from this in two key respects. First, he covers a much broader period, from the Reformation up to the present day, with a discussion of 24-hour drinking in the light of the implementation of the 2003 Licensing Act. Second, he makes a more determined attempt to place government debates in the wider cultural context of the time, looking at parallel discussions in the media and developments in contemporary political philosophy. As a result, Nicholls pays significant attention to public debates, including the course of the Temperance movement. Yet unlike Brian Harrison’s influential Drink and the Victorians (4), his analytic objectives take the book beyond a focus on the Temperance movement alone, though partly simply as a consequence of the wide historical sweep of the work. The Politics of Alcohol therefore addresses something of a gap in the existing literature, where there is little work focused solely on alcohol with such a broad analytical and chronological sweep.

Nicholls’ starting point is that ‘ideas about drink provide an insight into the wider culture’ of British society (pp. 2–3). Thus, the views he traces regarding alcohol and intoxication are marshalled to tell us something about how society viewed wider issues such as rationality, responsibility, godliness and pleasure. Nicholls is drawn again and again to the nature of freedom and liberty (and indeed liberalism) in relation to alcohol and the state. In a sense, the book is an attempt to tell the story of the never-ending waxing and waning of the competing philosophies of persuasion and coercion in effecting a solution to the underlying ‘question’ of alcohol.

The book is arranged into short chapters each broadly covering a short chronological period. These bite size chunks, along with Nicholls’ easy style of writing, make the book an entertaining and engaging read. However, in this sense Nicholls is a victim of his own success, as the vignettes in each chapter often whet the appetite for a more detailed examination of the complex and intriguing issues he sketches – a detailed and nuanced examination which is often lacking in the existing literature, but which this work cannot fully offer due to its wide sweep.

Importantly, Nicholls succeeds in drawing out the ways in which consumption of alcohol was viewed differently depending on what was drunk, by whom, and where. In discussing the differences in drinking, Nicholls reveals issues of class, wealth and status. The strength of his account here is its careful analysis. He observes that distinctions were not simply created through a condemnation of lower-class drinking and silence on the issue of consumption by elites. Rather, the elite was actively constructed through the formalisation of distinctions between, for example, alehouses and taverns in the 16th century. The 1552 Licensing Act set limits on the number of taverns allowed in each city, and imposed strict approval processes for becoming a tavern keeper. Taverns were not the category of establishments associated with the lower classes they were in fact the most exclusive of the three-tiered system of licensing: alehouses, inns and taverns. The purpose of these exacting regulations was not to limit drinking, but to protect the social status of a set of elite establishments being devalued by proliferation. Conversely, in the 17th century, alcohol consumption became a phenomenon through which, according to Nicholls, the social elite could be attacked by the aspirational middle classes for a lack of godliness and public morality.

In this way, Nicholls illustrates the importance of class without reducing the issue to a conception of the out-of-control carnivalesque working classes in opposition to the controlled, rational middle classes – a theme on which there is already plenty of material.(5) The history of the construction of class through drinking is about much more than the denigration of excessive working-class practices and turning a blind eye to middle- or upper-class actions, a complexity Nicholls conveys well.

At the same time, he does not disregard the way in which excessive drinking was frequently construed as a problem exclusive to the lower orders of society. He observes, for example, that the 1736 Gin Act stated that action was necessary because of the prevalence of gin consumption among ‘the people of lower and inferior rank’, which led to ‘the destruction of their healths, rendering them unfit for useful labour and business, debauching their morals, and citing them to all manner of vices’ (quoted p. 38). Notably, all these perceived problems of alcohol consumption have been invoked in the past hundred years to regulate (or de-regulate) the alcohol industry in Britain.

Nicholls looks at stated motivations and accounts of drinking practices with a critical (some might say cynical) eye. He describes how Habermas has portrayed the coffee houses as emblematic and supporting of sober Enlightenment rationality in contrast with the drunkenness of alehouses and taverns, before attacking this argument. Nicholls instead sees in coffee house culture a deliberate, oppositional cultivation of an impression of sobriety and rationality to acquire cultural power. Similarly, on the early temperance societies, with their reluctance to condemn alcohol consumption per se, preferring to condemn spirit drinking specifically, Nicholls states: ‘Abstaining from spirits, even when coupled with the promise to only use other drinks in moderation, was without doubt an act of cultural self-assertion as much as it was an act of moral reform’ (p. 98). The idea that the discourses surrounding alcohol worked to cement forms of social distinction is a persuasive one but this is not quite the same as the idea that the adherence to such discourses is a deliberate act of self-assertion. Nicholls’ presentation of these ideas can be seen to suggest that class and power are formed through calculated, rational actions (or statements). However, one of the reasons class is so powerful and pervasive is that, as Bourdieu argues, it works at a deeper level: we are disgusted by something that does not accord with our aesthetic disposition, and this disposition is so inculcated that it (often, of not always) seems natural, rather than something consciously created.(6)

Nicholls is adept at drawing attention to how drinking practices, tastes and fashions were related to politics and technology. It is worth remembering Hogarth’s ‘Beer Street’ as well as his ‘Gin Lane’, and recalling the association of Whigs with beer and Tories with wine. Wine was not always a respectable establishment drink indeed, it was understood by many in the 17th century to be a sign of loyalty to the Popish French. Port was invented as a way of drinking wine without sacrificing one’s principles of politics or taste, and therefore was as much a drink of political necessity as one of social distinction.

The combination of politics and technology is also important to Nicholls in understanding the ‘Gin Craze’. He describes distillation as a ‘paradigm shift’ (p. 35), which, despite the popularity of whisk(e)y in Scotland and Ireland, only took hold in England with the emergence of brandy into the market in the 17th century. However, as with wine, brandy suffered from being manufactured in France, and the consumption of a patriotic alternative – Dutch ‘geneva’, which became known as gin – was therefore encouraged by William III.

Later, the new drink of porter and the general development of the brewing industry in the late 19th century were results of technical changes in the brewing process that enabled beer to last for longer, and also developments in transport technology that allowed it to be transported more quickly. Breweries became national companies, and this shaped the scene in which alcohol policy was made – brewers became rich and influential in politics – a point reflected in their prominence in Greenaway’s account of policy-making in the 19th century.(7)

As well as linking developments to technology, Nicholls takes pains to point out how alcohol policy changed according to economic factors. In 1724 Bernard Mandeville pointed out that while alcohol (specifically gin) induced vice its manufacture created numerous respectable jobs: toolmakers, corn-reapers, maltsters and carriage-drivers, for example. Gin – and more generally alcohol – was, and has been since, a prism through which society’s debates surrounding the moral status of the economy are focused. In fact, as Nicholls suggests, alcohol can be seen as something of a perfect product for selling in the ‘market’, given its ‘extraordinary capacity to dematerialise money’ (p. 52).

The economic value of the alcohol industry is still emphasised by the UK government. Policy documents aiming to reduce ‘harms’ associated with alcohol are framed by the acknowledgements of the value of alcohol to the UK economy. The 2004 Alcohol Strategy for England, produced to account for concern that the implementation of the 2003 Licensing Act would lead to an increase in alcohol-related harms, was careful to observe that the latest statistics available showed that the alcohol industry was worth over £30bn, and supported a million jobs.(8)

Nicholls is at his strongest when he relates attitudes towards alcohol to the political philosophy of the time. For example, even while he attacks the Habermasian ideal of communication, he is careful to show how the ideal was powerful as an idea, rather than an objective description of reality. Lockean distinctions between rationality and irrationality were crucial to political and philosophical debates of the day, and thus framed discussions of alcohol – as indeed they do today. As Nicholls puts it: ‘If drunkenness was a voluntary reordering of the self, then which part of an individual’s humanity was curtailed when a person apparently lost the capacity to choose whether to drink or not?’ (pp. 63–4). In this in-depth (if somewhat inconclusive) discussion of drunkenness, rationality, self and addiction, Nicholls goes further than many sociologists and social psychologists, who tend to recycle the adage that addiction is a modern concept born of 19th- and 20th-century psychology.

This theme of the unavoidable tensions surrounding alcohol in terms of individual responsibility, rationality and liberalism runs right through the book. While Fielding agonised over a ‘new kind of drunkenness’, Daniel Defoe set up a defence of the distillers on the basis of the principles of free trade and individual responsibility. The same dialectic animates contemporary debates surrounding alcohol. As Nicholls himself suggests, prohibition has been demonstrated to be at best ineffectual, but many would argue that the current liberal system in place in Britain is equally unworkable given the time, money and lives that are lost in the face of alcohol consumption. The lesson that Nicholls offers us from history, then, is that there are no complete solutions to the problem of drinking.

I would have liked to know more about those who were actually drinking, and their motivations and perceptions of the public discourses Nicholls so fluently discusses. However, Nicholls makes no claim to be writing a social history of alcohol this is a book about changing attempt over time to govern and regulate alcohol consumption, and how these attempts made sense as part of broader ideologies. As I suggested above, this is certainly where the work is strongest, outing particularly persuasive links between class and discourses surrounding drink.

The expansive historical sweep of Nicholls’ book draws out an important theme that is often lost in contemporary debate surrounding alcohol: the current political approach represents a ‘sea-change’ from the long-term historical tendency (p. 226). The economy in alcohol has long been viewed as something to be controlled at most the brewers were to be left to their own devices. Now, this alcoholic economy is something to be actively cultivated and supported. The ‘sea-change’ might therefore be seen as part of a broader trend towards neo-liberalism in politics, though that would be a claim for a different book to address. Nicholls is right to state that Time for Reform – the White Paper that morphed into the Licensing Act 2003 – was ‘written as if history was a mere diversion’ (p. 228). One might hope that this book will help to change such attitudes.


History.

After Britain’s First (electoral) Reform Act of 1832, the mainly aristocratic Whigs were joined in the House of Commons by increasing numbers of middle-class members and by a smaller number of Radicals, who, from about 1850, tended to work together in cooperation with the Peelites (antiprotectionist Tories). By 1839 Lord John Russell was referring to “the Liberal party” in his letters to Queen Victoria. Russell’s administration of 1846 is sometimes regarded as the first Liberal government others reserve the distinction for Lord Palmerston’s 1855 administration. The first unequivocally Liberal government was that formed in 1868 by William E. Gladstone, under whose leadership these various elements became a cohesive parliamentary party. After 1865 the personality and politics of Gladstone dominated the party, which held power under him for a total of more than 12 years between 1868 and 1894. The main achievement of the Liberal Party under Gladstone was its reforms. These included the establishment of a national system of education, voting by secret ballot, the legalization of trade unions, the enfranchisement of the working class in rural areas, reconstruction of the army (involving the abolition of the purchase of commissions), and reform of the judicial system. In the process, Gladstone attached a broad range of popular support to the party.

In 1886 the party was weakened by the defection of the Liberal Unionists, who disliked Gladstone’s plan for Home Rule of Ireland and eventually joined the Conservatives. By the early 20th century the Liberal Party seemed moribund, but a Conservative split helped the Liberals to victory. The period 1906–15, during which the foundations of the British welfare state were laid, was the last during which the Liberals held power alone.

In 1915, during World War I, the Liberal H.H. Asquith formed a national coalition government with the Conservative and Labour parties. However, during the war the Liberals clustered into two distinctly different camps, centred on the rival personalities of Asquith and his successor, David Lloyd George. Aligned with Asquith were those who felt that cherished Liberal beliefs were being threatened by such wartime exactions as military conscription, introduced in 1916. Allied to Lloyd George were those who sided with the Conservatives in seeking a more rigorous prosecution of the war. The Liberals’ divisions became more firmly drawn after the postwar election of December 1918, in which Lloyd George’s Coalition Liberals ran unopposed by their Conservative partners while Asquith’s Independent Liberals were routed. In the years that followed, the party’s internal conflicts exacted a terrible toll on it at precisely the time when the Labour Party was emerging as a coherent and effective source of reform in the country. In the general election of 1924, the Liberals’ share of the popular vote was reduced to less than 20 percent and its parliamentary representation to 40. By 1933 the party was divided between Sir John Simon’s Liberal National supporters of the Conservative-dominated National Government, Sir Herbert Samuel’s opposition Liberals, and a small number of Independent Liberals who still clung to the aging Lloyd George. The Liberals’ last experience of national government was provided by their participation in Winston Churchill’s World War II coalition of 1940–45.

The Liberal Party’s 20th-century nadir came in the 1950s, when it polled as little as 2.5 percent of the popular vote and when serious consideration was given to merging with the Conservatives. Leader Clement Davies rejected Winston Churchill’s overtures in 1951, however, and the Liberals survived as a small rump in the House of Commons for the remainder of the decade. The seeds of political rebirth were sown under the leadership of Jo Grimond (1956–67), when the party generated a revived reputation as an intellectually credible left-of-centre group. Liberals demonstrated a willingness to adopt radical and often innovative approaches to reform, which often brought them close to the ideological space occupied by the Labour Party, though their social and political analysis was not rooted in class loyalty. From the early 1960s on, the party enjoyed spectacular by-election successes fueled by these performances, an increasing number of Liberal candidates was fielded. Under Jeremy Thorpe the party made substantial progress in the 1974 general election, returning almost 20 percent of the popular vote. The charismatic Thorpe himself fell victim to a scandal in which money was alleged to have been paid to secure the silence of his former homosexual lover, but under Thorpe’s successor as party leader, David Steel (1976–88), the Liberals retained their position as a significant national force in British politics. In return for supporting the minority Labour government of James Callaghan, Steel was able to extract a number of concessions, including an agreement to consult the Liberals on legislation prior to its presentation in Parliament. This “Lib-Lab” pact foundered in 1978, and the Liberals fared poorly in the general election of 1979, but their strategic importance was enhanced by the emergence of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1981. An Alliance (as their cooperation became known) was forged between the two parties in time for the 1983 general election, in which they won 25 percent of the popular vote.

Between 1983 and the formal merger with the larger part of the SDP in 1988, there were a number of tensions between the two parties at all levels over policy, strategy, and electoral arrangements. Notable parliamentary figures such as Cyril Smith and Michael Meadowcroft expressed their doubts about the Alliance, and the Association of Liberal Councillors argued that its own tradition of locally based “community politics” was more truly “mold-breaking” than the comparatively elitist SDP. Yet it became clear that the Liberals fared rather the better under the Alliance. They, rather than the SDP, retained the right to field Alliance candidates in a majority of the most winnable parliamentary seats, while their historic ties to certain areas of the country remained strong. The Liberal Party provided the major part of the organizational infrastructure and resources on which the new party, known initially as the Social and Liberal Democrats and later simply as the Liberal Democrats, was based.


Where history happened: 10 locations to visit

Newbury workhouse, Berkshire

The building of this former workhouse was funded by a legacy of £4,800 from a wealthy merchant draper in 1624 and opened as a parish workhouse in 1627, providing poor relief in the form of work for unemployed clothiers and training for pauper children.

Most likely a non-residential institution, Newbury’s workhouse provided textile labour for up to 80 workers each year but floundered when it was unable to sell the cloth that it produced and subsequently lost money. The building processed wool through its various stages and even had its own weaving shop with both broad and narrow looms.

Newbury workhouse continued to operate as a pauper school and workhouse during the Civil War but had been partly demolished by 1689. The surviving section now houses the West Berkshire Museum, though this is currently closed for refurbishment until 2014.

Southwell workhouse, Notts

Built to accommodate around 158 inmates, the operation of Southwell workhouse was widely viewed as a model example of what the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act had set out to achieve in terms of frugality. Designed by the Reverend John T Becher, Southwell was built in 1824 and run by the Thurgarton Incorporation. A strict regime worked as a successful deterrent to potential ‘scroungers’ – and beer, snuff and tobacco were all banned.

As was customary at the time, men and women were segregated, but Southwell also divided the two groups further into the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor – the four units never met and even used separate internal staircases. The master’s quarters were located in the central hub of the building and were designed to allow him a view of the partitioned yards where inmates exercised.

Now preserved by the National Trust, Southwell looks almost exactly the same as it did in the 19th century.

48 Doughty Street, London

The concept of the workhouse has inspired countless songs, works of art, and books – none more famous than Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, which first appeared in serial form in Bentley’s Miscellany in 1837.

Written shortly after the introduction of the Poor Law Amendment Act, Oliver Twist presents a rather confused version of a workhouse regime that was still transitioning from the old parish-based system. Just one of its discrepancies lies in Oliver’s famous line: “Please, sir, I want some more”. Although there is evidence of some inmates being underfed, the diet, although plain, should have been sufficient for their needs. In fact, as a nine-year-old boy, Oliver would have received the same rations as an adult woman, which would have added at least a portion of bread to his meals.

Christmas in the workhouse came under scrutiny from many contemporary writers, and the celebration certainly evolved over the years. The 1830s saw a clampdown on any extra costs for rate payers but a Christmas dinner was often provided by the Board of Guardians or local gentry, who would frequently oversee proceedings. By the 1880s, Christmas had become a focal point for workhouse inmates and contemporary newspaper accounts report gifts of tobacco or snuff for male inmates, while females were often treated to dried tea.

Number 48 Doughty Street, once home to Charles Dickens, now houses the Dickens Museum.

Andover union workhouse, Hants

Despite a strict set of guidelines and rules, workhouses weren’t always run with the welfare of the inmates in mind and, as a result, a number of scandals hit the headlines during the 19th century. One such incident occurred in the Andover union workhouse in 1845 after it emerged that underfed male inmates had been fighting over the rotten shreds of meat and marrow left on the bones they had been told to crush for fertiliser.

Andover had a reputation for strictness, run as it was by a former sergeant major, and expenditure was kept to a minimum. Inmates ate their meals using their fingers and were denied the extra food and drink at Christmas that was customary in most workhouses.

Complaints about the lack of food were common among inmates, and vagrants in particular often claimed they did not receive the rations they were entitled to. Many tramps, in fact, deliberately tore up their workhouse uniforms and were only too happy to be sentenced to a spell in prison where they could expect better food, warmth, a bed, and a cell to themselves – all without having to perform a day’s work.

Andover workhouse has now been converted to residential use, but its exterior remains relatively unchanged.

Rhayader union workhouse, Powys

Despite falling under the same laws as England, much of Wales proved particularly resistant to the changes enforced by the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act, especially those related to the abolishment of outdoor relief.

Although 47 new Welsh unions had come into force by 1838, Poor Law commissioners in 1845 recorded that 17 out of the 47 did not have “efficient workhouses in operation” – compared to just 19 out of the 544 unions in England.

Resistance to the workhouse system was particularly prevalent in central and rural Wales, and the country witnessed a number of related riots between 1842 and 1843. By the 1860s, a handful of unions, including Rhayader, had held out against establishing a system of indoor relief. In fact, Rhayader’s guardians successfully resisted implementing a union workhouse for over 40 years but, under threat of dissolution by the central authorities, its workhouse opened in August 1879 – the last to open in England and Wales under the 1834 act.

Today, the workhouse buildings form part of Rhayader’s country house hotel.

Edinburgh’s charity poorhouse, Edinburgh

Scotland operated a separate poor law system to England and Wales, beginning in 1579 with an act issued by the Scottish parliament, which laid the foundations for the care of the country’s poor. In 1597, the responsibility of poor relief was shifted onto the church, and a further act in 1672 ordered the establishment of ‘correction houses’, where beggars could work in return for handouts.

Although Scotland was not affected by England’s 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act, an inquiry into Scotland’s poor relief system was set up in 1843 and a number of proposals were put forward two years later, including the exemption of the able-bodied from receiving poor relief, the continuation of outdoor relief and the voluntary operation of poorhouses. Funded by taxes and charitable donations, the Edinburgh charity poorhouse, one of Scotland’s earliest, was established in Port Bristo in 1743, and by 1778 it could house up to 484 adults and 180 children.

Part of the former east wing of the poorhouse, which originally included the men’s section, doctor’s surgery and children’s school, can still be seen at Forest Hill. Other parts of the former workhouse buildings have been incorporated into the nearby Hotel du Vin.

Londonderry union workhouse, Londonderry/Derry

‘Houses of Industry’ existed in Ireland prior to the union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1800, but it was the Irish Poor Law Act of 1838 that brought the English workhouse system to Ireland, creating an initial 130 unions, a figure that rose to 163, with a complete exclusion of outdoor relief.

All Irish workhouses were built to the same model, designed by architect George Wilkinson, and 112 had been completed by April 1843. Sources tell us that life in Irish workhouses was even harsher than in their English counterparts with cramped, poorly ventilated dormitories, raised planks and straw mattresses for beds, and toilet facilities that were far from adequate for the numbers housed.

Irish workhouses came under immense pressure during the Great Famine of 1845–50 as the system struggled to cope with the demand for space. Conditions within the workhouse worsened during the period as diseases such as typhus fever and dysentery struck many inmates and many workhouse burial grounds overflowed.

Londonderry union workhouse opened its doors to the poor on 10 November 1840 and was based on one of Wilkinson’s standard workhouse designs, accommodating some 800 inmates. During the years of famine, a building was erected in the women’s yard to accommodate a further 40 people, along with temporary fever sheds for 60 people.

The central part of the original building is now a library with a famine and workhouse museum situated on its upper floors.

Strand union workhouse, London

This former workhouse originally opened in 1778 but hit the headlines in 1865 after criticisms of its medical care and infirmary were printed in The Lancet medical journal. The Lancet stated that “very few [of the nursing staff] can be considered fitted for their work as far as regards knowledge, and many are mainly incompetent from age or physical feebleness. The helpers are, of course, mere ignorant drudges”.

Dr Joseph Rogers, who became medical officer for the workhouse in 1855, was also appalled at the conditions he encountered and began a campaign to improve medical care. The ensuing outcry was instrumental in the passing of the Metropolitan Poor Act of 1867, which introduced changes for the care of London’s poor.

The mental welfare of workhouse inmates was also under scrutiny during the mid-19th century, and 1858 saw the introduction of the Workhouse Visiting Society for “the promotion of the moral and spiritual improvement of workhouse inmates”, allowing volunteer visitors, as well as small comforts such as flowers and books, into the workhouse. This, together with support from prominent figures such as Charles Dickens and Florence Nightingale, led to positive changes in the medical provision for London’s sick poor.

Until recently, the Strand workhouse, on Cleveland Street, housed the outpatients department for the Middlesex Hospital. Much of the original building still stands – though it is currently under threat of demolition.

The Spike, Guildford

Vagrants made up a large proportion of most workhouse populations and were usually placed in more basic accommodation than that in the main workhouse. On entering the casual ward, or ‘Spike’ as it was commonly called, a vagrant’s clothes would be seized and fumigated overnight in a sulphur or steam oven to kill any vermin or fleas – often clothes and shoes came out in a worse state than when they went into the oven. Food usually consisted of bread and water, possibly with a little porridge in the more sympathetic institutions, but casuals were expected to work hard for their bed and board.

A popular form of labour assigned to vagrants was the breaking of large stones into smaller pieces, which could then be used on the roads. The casual ward at Guildford Spike comprised a prison-like corridor of cells, many of which were used for stone breaking. The broken particles were then passed through a metal grid.

Some casual wards even show evidence of tramp ‘graffiti’ left in the form of messages and poems, often commenting on the type of relief available in the different unions. There are even suggestions that vagrants used a system of secret signs scratched outside workhouses to warn others of the treatment they could expect.

Guildford Spike is now preserved as a heritage centre that is open to the public.

Chorlton union workhouse, Lancashire

On its opening on Nell Lane in 1855, the Chorlton union workhouse could house up to 1,500 inmates and was one of the largest institutions of its kind in the country. As well as being renowned for its size, Chorlton boasted England’s first ever ‘pavilion plan’ workhouse infirmary, comprising five well-spaced ward blocks, linked by a covered way, and each accommodating 96 patients.

Later known as ‘Nightingale Wards’, the layout was praised by Florence Nightingale herself who commented: “Your hospital plan is a very good one: when completed it will be one of the best, if not the best, in the country… we shall hasten to imitate you for you will have set up a model for the whole country.” The design, of elongated wards with beds and windows alternating down either side, was later adopted as a standard infirmary layout.

Although the infirmary blocks have been demolished, the main workhouse building still stands.


Civil War and Reconstruction

In the 1850s, the debate over whether slavery should be extended into new Western territories split these political coalitions. Southern Democrats favored slavery in all territories, while their Northern counterparts thought each territory should decide for itself via popular referendum.

At the party’s national convention in 1860, Southern Democrats nominated John C. Breckinridge, while Northern Democrats backed Stephen Douglas. The split helped Abraham Lincoln, candidate of the newly formed Republican Party, to victory in the 1860 election, though he won only 40 percent of the popular vote.

The Union victory in the Civil War left Republicans in control of Congress, where they would dominate for the rest of the 19th century. During the Reconstruction era, the Democratic Party solidified its hold on the South, as most white Southerners opposed the Republican measures protecting civil and voting rights for African Americans.

By the mid-1870s, Southern state legislatures had succeeded in rolling back many of the Republican reforms, and Jim Crow laws enforcing segregation and suppressing Black voting rights would remain in place for the better part of a century.


UK Tories vs Whigs in the 19th century: broad political classification? - History


A Timeline of Modern English History

1485 Beginning of Tudor Dynasty, Henry VII assumes the throne
Central Royal authority was strengthened and private feudal armies suppressed

1487 Rebellion of Lambert Simnel

1509 End of Henry VII's reign – Begin reign of Henry VIII

1513 Battle of Foldden English victory over Scotland

1514 Beginning wars with France and Scotland

1517 End wars with France and Scotland

1520 (June 7) establishment of a short-lived alliance between Henry VIII and Francis I of France

1522 England invades France - invasion unsuccessful

1523 England abandons attempted French invasion

1527 Divorce crisis of Henry VIII begins

1530 Henry VII begins the process of breaking with the papacy
time of internal instability associated with founding the new church

1534 Church of England established, unrest within England largely subsided

1542 Renewed warfare with France and Scotland
French landings on the English coast between1545 and 1546
convince Henry VIII to begin a massive naval construction program.
Beginning of the modern Royal Navy.
Beginning of the construction of system of coastal fortifications.

1547 Death of Henry VIII – Begin reign of Edward IV
Since Edward IV was not of age to rule, Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, ruled as regent.

1549 Religious/Social Unrest
Duke of Somerset puts down a Catholic revolt in Devonshire .
Royal forces under John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, put down a peasant revolt in Norfolk .
Setbacks in wars with France and Scotland
French successful in battle outside Houlogne. Scottish recapture Haddington.
September – Somerset forced out as regent due to war setbacks, social unrest,
and noble dissatisfaction with his liberal ideas.
Warwick, Duke of Northumberland, becomes regent .

1550 Peace with France
France returns Boulogne to England for a cash payment.

1553 Death of Edward IV
(June 6-19) Insurrection of Northumberland Upon the death of Edward VI, Northumberland attempted to place his daughter in law, Lady Jane Grey , on the throne instead of the rightful successor, Edward's sister, Mary. Northumberland was captured, and Jane was deposed and executed after a reign of nine days .

1553 Beginning of the Reign of Mary I
Re-establishment of Catholicism in England .
Her marriage to Philip of Spain added to religious unrest,
many English Catholics joined the Protestants in distrust of Spain and Spanish Catholicism.

1554 Insurrection in Kent Led by Sir Thomas Wyatt, Sir Thomas Carew, and the Duke of Suffolk, this was an attempt to prevent Mary's marriage to Philip. Wyatt was defeated and overpowered while trying to take London . The rebellion collapsed and the leaders were executed.

1555 Persecution of Protestants begins

1557 War begins with France Mary's marriage led to English involvement in Spain 's endemic wars with France

1558 End of Mary I's reign / Start of Reign of Elizabeth I (sister of Edward VI and Mary I) Elizabeth returns England to Protestantism, She followed a general policy of avoiding involvement in major continental wars.

1559 England ends war with France

Intervention in Scotland English forces assist Scots against Frenchforces in Scotland . French surrender at Leith in February, 1560.

1562 England sends troops to France to aid the Huguenots.

1568 Beginning of a period of mounting hostilities between Spain and England

1570 Papal Bull declares Elizabeth excommunicated and deposed

1573 Temporary Rapprochement with Spain . Ascendancy of the Guise family in France leads to a temporary reduction of tensions.

1577 Alliance with the Netherlands Republic in their war against Spain , although Elizabeth did not declare war against Spain .

1580 Sir Francis Drake completes his circumnavigation of the World Drake raids Spanish and Portuguese colonies and shipping along the way.

1585 English military assistance to the Netherlands Henry Sidney, Earl of Lester, brings an army of 6,000 men to Holland .
Drake's expeditions to the Caribbean An English expedition under Sir Francis Drake sacked Santo Domingo , Cartagena , St. Augustine and carried out numerous other raids in the West Indies . Expedition ends in 1586.

1587 English army in Netherlands returns to England The army performed poorly, and the Earl of Lester died in the field in the previous year.
(April-June) Drake's Expedition to Cadiz Aware of Spanish plans for the coming armada, Drake sails into the port of Cadiz with a fleet of 23ships and destroys 33 Spanish vessels of all sizes.

1588 Santa Cruz dies Admiral Marquis de Santa Cruz , who was in charge of preparing the Armada, dies on January 30, and was replaced by Alone Perez de Guzman, Duke of Medina Sidonia, who had no naval experience.
May 20 - The armada leaves Lisbon (comprised of 20 great galleons,44 armed merchant ships, 23 transports, 35 smaller vessels, 4 galleasses,and 4 galleys.)
July 19 - Armada sited off the coast of Lizard Head by Englishscout vessels.
July 20 - Lord Howard of Effingham, commander of the Englishforces, sets sail with from Plymouth (34 ships under his command, joinedby 34 under Drake's command, a London squadron of 30 ships, and an additional30 ships under Lord Henry Seymour.)
July 21 - Spanish lose one ship in engagements off Plymouth .
July 23 - No losses on either side as a result of this all daybattle
July 25 - Battle of Dorset . The English are able to replenishtheir ammunition while the Spanish are not. Spanish head for Calis to replenishstocks and pick up troops.
July 26-27 - Armada anchored off Calis, but unable to obtainsupplies due to the blockade of Bruges by the Dutch fleet under the commandof Justinian of Nassau.
July 28 - English send fire ships into the Spanish fleet, whichresponds by cutting anchor and traveling up the coast while suffering heavylosses from English long range fire.
July 29-30 - Unfavorable winds keep Spanish fleet from landinganywhere in the Low Countries . Sedina Sidonia decides to return to Spainby sailing up through the North Sea .
August 2 - English fleet breaks off its pursuit of the Armadaand returns to its home ports.
August-September - The armada suffers heavy losses as it makesits way back to Spain , due to storms, starvation, and thirst. 63 of theoriginal 130 ships returned to Spain .

1589 4,000 English troops land in Normandy to aid Henry of Navarre

1591 Small English force lands at St. Malo and Rouen .

1594 Tyrone Rebellion in Ireland Endemic rebellion in Irelanderupted into full scale war under the leadership of Hugh O'Neil, Earl ofTyrone.

1596 English troops landed during a raid on Cadiz .

1598 English defeated by Irish at the Battle of Yellow Ford onthe Blackwater river.

1601 Spanish Intervention Spain sends 4,000 troops to Irelandand capture Kinsale.

1603 Death of Elizabeth I ,End of Tudor dynasty,
beginningof Stuart dynasty with reign of James I .

English victory Irish-Spanish troops defeated at the Battle of Kinsale.O'Neil surrenders and is pardoned by James I.

1604 October 24 - Unification of Britain The union of the crownsof England and Scotland eliminated internal frontiers and reduced the needfor a standing army, which increased parliamentary authority at the expenseof royal authority.

1605 The Gunpowder Plot the last major Catholic conspiracy

1624 Involvement in 30 Years War James sends a small force of1,200 men to the continent to assist Frederick of Prussia and ChristianIV of Denmark. This army collapses in 1625 due to a lack of training andsupplies.

1625 End of reign of JamesI, beginning of Charles I's reign

1626 Beginning of the Anglo-French war.

1627 The Duke of Buckingham's expedition to the Isle of Re, nearLa Rochelle, to support Huguenot forces ended in defeat.

1628 Buckingham assassinated while preparing another expeditionagainst the French.
May - The Petition of Right listing of parliamentarygrievances against the king.

1630 November 5 - Peace with France and Spain

1639 First Bishops' War Scotland revolts over the impositionof Anglican liturgy into Scottish Presbyterian services.
June 18 Pacification of Dunse temporary compromisesettlement

1640 Second Bishops' War hostilities renewed in Scotland
April-May the "Short Parliament" the Commonsrefuses to grant Charles financial support for the war.
August 28 Scots defeat Charles' forces atNewburn, Northumberland, and Durham
November - Treaty of Ripon temporary end tohostilities.
November 3 - the "Long Parliament" TriennialAct agreed to by Charles I.

1641 October - Outbreak of the Irish War Irish rebellion breaksout
due to the distastefor the policies of the Earl of Stratford , the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland .
December 1 - Grand Remonstrance Act passedby Parliament listing the grievances against Charles I.
Abolition of the councilor courts, abolitionof prerogative taxation, Triennial Bill.

1642 January 3 Charles attempts to arrest 5 leaders in the Commons,attempt fails.
March - Charles rejects Parliament's attemptto gain control of army.
June - Parliament raises a 24,000 man army
August - Charles begins to raise his armyat Nottingham

1643 Kings armies have the advantage
Scots invade on the side of Parliament

1644 Parliaments armies take the advantage
June - Battle of Marston Moor Parliament wins,decisive battle in war.

1645 "Clubmen" rising of armed neutrals threaten both sides
Royalist armies disintegrate
Parliament forces reorganize into the NewModel Army

1646 King surrenders to Scots
Bishops and Book of Common Prayer abolished
Presbyterian Church established

1647 Army revolt Radical movements criticize parliamentary tyranny

1648 Second Civil War Scots now side with the king and are defeated

1649 Trial and executionof Charles I England becomes a republic
Government by single chamber Rump Parliament
Oliver Cromwell begins the conquest of Irelandcomplete in 1650

1650 Cromwell begins the conquest of Scotland complete in 1652

1651 Thomas Hobbes publishes Leviathan

1652 First Dutch war begins

1653 Cromwell dissolves Rump Parliament Cromwell becomes LordProtector of Britain, written constitution.

1654 End of the first Dutch war

1655 Beginning of War with Spain
Royalist insurrection Penruddock's rising,a complete failure

1658 Cromwell dies and is succeeded by his son Richard

1659 Richard overthrown by army Rump is restored, but displeasesthe army

1660 Restoration of the Stuarts - Charles II takes the throne

1662 Church of England restored

1663 Failure of first Royal attempt to grant religious toleration

1665 Second Anglo-Dutch War begins
Great Plague final major outbreak

1666 The Great Fire of London

1667 Second Anglo-Dutch War ends
Milton 's Paradise Lost published allegoryfor the failed revolution

1672 Third Anglo-Dutch War begins
Failure of second royal attempt to grant religioustoleration

1674 Third Anglo-Dutch War Ends

1679 The Exclusion Crisis beginning of the Whig and Tory parties

1685 February 6 - James II takes the throne

1687 Newton 's Principia Mathematica published

1688 William of Orange invadesJames II flees the country

1689 February 13 - William of Orange andMary Stuart named joint sovereigns of England by Parliament.
Irish War begins

1690 Battle of the Boyne William III defeats Irish and Frencharmies

1691 Irish War ends English victory

1694 Bank of England founded
Death of Queen Mary

1697 Civil List Act Parliament votes funds for the maintenanceof the royal household.

1699 February Disbanding Act Parliament reduces the size of theBritish standing army to 7,000 to limit William III's involvement in continentalwarfare.

1700 Importation of Indian muslin and printed calicoes is forbidden

1701 June 12 Act of Settlement Parliament states thatthe English crown
will go to the Electors of Hanover, throughSophia, granddaughter of James I,
after Anne,daughter of James II had reigned.
September 16 James II dies in France
Beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession

1702 Death of William III,Anne Stuart takes the throne

1704 British capture Gibraltar from Spain

1705 Newcomen's fire-engine

1707 May 1 Union of England and Scotland Establishes theUnited Kingdom of Great Britain .

1708 James Edward, the Pretender, lands in Scotland his welcomeis lukewarm
and he returnsto France in the same year.
Abraham Darby takes lease of Coalbrookdale

1710 Fall of the Whig Ministry Tories cometo power - Harley ministry

1713 End of the War of the Spanish Succession Treaty of Utrecht

1714 August 1 - Death of Anne Stuart, beginning of the HanoverDynasty with George I, Elector of Hanover.

1715 September - Beginning of the Jacobite Rebellion in Scotlandinitial successes, James Edward arrives from France in December.

1716 Septennial Act no parliament can sit for longer than sevenyears without an election
February - Jacobite rising defeated JamesEdward returns to France .

1719 Spanish Expedition to Scotland Spanish fleet sailing toScotland to put Stuarts back on the throne is scattered by a storm anddoes not meet its objective.

1720 South Sea Bubble Many investors are ruined after speculationin the stock of the South Sea Company
Wearing of pure cotton cloth prohibited

1721 Walpole ministry

1727 George I dies, George II becomes king
beginning of war with Spain

1729 End of war with Spain

1730 Lord Townshend retires from the ministry to devote himselfto agricultural improvement

1733 Excise crisis Walpole must abandon plans to reform customsand excise duties.
Kay's fly shuttle invented
Jethro Tull's Horse-hoeing Husbandrypublished

1737 Death of Queen Caroline

1738 Lewis Paul's roller-spinning machine invented

1739 Beginning of "War of Jenkin's Ear" Anglo-Spanish naval war

1740 Beginning of the War of the Austrian Succession

1742 Fall of Wallpole

1744 Pelham ministry

1745 Beginning of "The Forty-five" James Edward once again comesto England to reclaim his throne.

1746 End of "The Forty-five" Scottish uprising suppressed, JamesEdward returns to France . Scotsmen now forbidden to wear their nationaldress.

1748 End of "War of Jenkin's Ear" with Spain
End of the War of the Austrian SuccessionPeace of Aix-la-Chapelle

1749 Iron manufactures suppressed in the American colonies

1751 War between British and French in India

1752 Adoption of Gregorian Calendar

1754 War between English and French colonists in America begins
Newcastle ministry

1756 Beginning of the Seven Years War Britain allied with Frederickthe Great of Prussia against France , Austria , and Russia .

1758 Threshing machine invented
Bridgewater Canal constructed

1760 Death of George II, accession of GeorgeIII
Carron Iron Works opened

1761 Wilkinson sets up furnaces in Bersham

1763 End of the Seven Years War Peace of Paris

1764 Hargreaves' spinning jenny invented

1765 American Stamp Act meant to pay for the defense of the Americancolonies
Rockingham ministry

1766 Chatham ministry begins

1768 Grafton ministry begins
Cook's first voyage in the Pacific begun

1769 James Watt's steam engine patented
Arkwright's "water frame" patented

1770 Lord North's ministry begins

1773 Boston Tea Party a protest against the East India Company'smonopoly on tea exports to American colonies

1774 Coercive Acts Passed in retaliation for the Boston Tea Party
Arkwright's carding machine patented
Wearing pure cotton cloth permitted by law
Priestley discovers oxygen

1775 Thomas Spence's The Real Rights of Man published
War of American Independence begun

1776 Declaration of American Independence
Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of theRoman Empire published
Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations published

1777 First Bath and West of England Agricultural Show held

1779 Crompton's mule invented

1781 British surrender at Yorktown end of American RevolutionaryWar

1782 Second Rockingham ministry

1784 Henry Cort's puddling process patented
Bell's cylindrical process of calico printing
Andrew Meikle's threshing machine
Watt's double-acting steam-engine

1783 Shelburne ministry
Pitt ministry

1785 Steam-engines first applied to spinning machinery
Arkwright's patents declared invalid
New Lanark Mills founded by David Dale
Cartwright's first patent for a power loom

1786 Eden 's commercial treaty with France

1789 French Revolution

1791 Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man published
Spinning jenny applied to wool

1792 Coal and gas used for lighting

1793 Outbreak of war with France
Eli Whitney's cotton gin
Commercial depression begins

1794 Habeas Corups suspended

1795 "Speenhamland" system of relief made wages equal to thecosts of subsistence
Beginning of the United Irishmen Revolt

1796 Vaccination against smallpox introduced

1797 United Irishmen Revolt ends brutally repressed by Britishforces
Cash payments by the Bank of England suspended
The British Naval Mutinies

1798 Malthus's Essay on Population first published
Income tax (10% on incomes over £200)

1799 Napoleon appointed First Consul in France
Beginning of commercial boom
Trade Unions suppressed under the CombinationLaw
Serfdom of Scottish coal miners abolished
Limited free trade established between Britainand Ireland

1801 Union with Ireland
End of commercial boom
First British Census estimated population8,892,536
Surrey Iron Railway

1802 Peace with France
Peel introduces first factory legislation
West India Dock completed

1803 War with France begins again
Horrock's improved power loom patented
General Enclosure Act simplifies the processof enclosure of common land

1805 Battle of Trafalgar Nelson defeats the French and Spanishfleets

1806 Death of Pitt, Lord Grenville becomesPM

1807 Abolition of the slave trade

1808 Peninsular War begins
East India Docks opened

1809 Economic boom begins

1811 Depression sets in
Luddite riots in Nottinghamshire

1812 Beginning of war with United States of America
Napoleon's Russian campaign

1813 Monopoly of East India Company abolished
Henry Bell's steamboat Comet plies on theClyde

1814 Stephenson's railway engine used to haul coal
Repeal of Statute of Apprentices

1815 Battle of Waterloo
Congress of Vienna
Corn Law passed
Beginning of a commercial boom

1817 Recession sets in

1819 Peterloo Massacre
The Savannah crossed the Atlantic partly understeam power

1820 Death of George III,accession of George IV

1821 Famine in Ireland begins
Cash payments resumed by the Bank of England

1822 Greek war of independence begins

1823 End of Irish famine

1824 Trade boom begins
Repeal of laws against the export of machineryand artisans

1825 Trade Unions legalized
Stockton and Darlington railway opens
Commercial depression begins

1827 Liverpool retires, Canning becomesPM

1829 Catholic Emancipation
Greece wins independence
Metropolitan Police established

1830 Death of George IV, accessionof William IV
Liverpool and Manchester railway opens

1831 Swing riots rural workers protesting against mechanizationof agriculture

1832 Great Reform Bill introduces the "10pound" voter franchise

1833 Factory Act limiting child labor

1834 Slavery abolished it the British Empire
Grand National Consolidated Trade Union Founded

1835 Commercial boom - Major increase in railway building begins

1837 Death of William IV, accessionof Victoria I

1838 People's Charter drafted
The Great Western Railway opened London toBath and Bristol

1839 Chartist riots
Capture of Hong Kong
Beginning of Afgan war

1840 Railway regulation act

1841 Tories assume power, Peel becomesPM

1842 Income tax revived
End of Afgan war

1843 End of Opium War with China

1844 Boom in railway building begins Result of the Cheep TrainsAct
Irish potato famine begins
First telegraph in England

1846 Corn Laws abolished
Peel resigns, Lord JohnRussell becomes PM

1848 European revolutions
Last great Chartist demonstration

1949 Repeal of Navigation Laws

1851 Great Exhibition Crystal Palace showcases the industrialmight of Britain
Submarine cable laid across the English Channel

1852 Russell Resigns, Earl of Derby becomes PM

1854 Crimean War begins

1855 Newspapers duties repealed
Aberdeen resigns, Palmerston becomes PM

1856 Crimean War ends

1857 Start of second Opium War opens China to European trade
Production of aniline dyes started

1858 End of Second Opium War
Indian Mutiny and India Act
Palmerston resigns, Lord Derby becomes PM

1859 Publication of Darwin 's Origin of the Species
Great London builders strike

1860 Anglo-French "Cobden" treaty

1861 Death of Albert, Prince Consort
US Civil war causes cotton famine in Lancashire

1862 Limited Liability Act provides stimulus to business interests

1863 War with Japan to open Japanese ports to trade

1865 October - Death of Palmerston, Russell becomes PM

1866 Derby forms a minority Conservative government
Submarine cable laid across the Atlantic

1867 Dominion of Canada Act
Second Reform Act household franchise in boroughs

1868 February - Disraeli becomes PM (Conservative)
Gladstone forms Liberal Government

1869 Suez Canal opened
Irish Church disestablished
Debt imprisonment ended

1870 Irish Land Act
Elementary Education Act

1871 Purchase of commissions in the army abolished

1874 Disraeli forms Conservative government

1875 British government buys controlling shares in Suez Canal
Agricultural depression deepens due to new grain supplies from Russia and
the United States entering the European market for the first time.

1876 Victoria proclaimed Empress of India
Compulsory Education enacted

1877 Confederation of British and Boer states in South Africa

1878 Congress of Berlin
Edison 's bipolar dynamo invented

1879 Economic depression deepens
Zulu war
Incandescent lamp invented

1880 First Anglo-Boer war
Synthetic indigo manufactured
Employers Liability Act passed

1882 Britain occupies Egypt
Triple Alliance between Germany , Austria ,and Italy

1885 Burma annexed
Third Reform Act household franchise in counties
Salisbury 's first Conservative government

1886 Gladstone becomes PM (Liberal Party)
First Home Rule Bill for Ireland splits theLiberal Party
Gold found in Transvaal
Royal Niger Company chartered
1886 Conservatives return to powerunder Salisbury

1887 British East Africa Company chartered

1889 London dock strike
Board of Agriculture instituted
British South Africa Company chartered

1892 Liberals return to power under Gladstone

1893 Second Home Rule Bill rejected by the House of Lords
Independent Labor Party founded

1894 Gladstone resigns, Lord Rosebery becomes PM

1896 Sudan conquest begins

1897 Workmen's Compensation Act

1898 Sudan under British control Fashoda incident
German naval expansion begins

1899 May-June First Hague Peace Conference
Second Anglo-Boer war begins

1900 " Khaki" election won by Salisbury
Commonwealth of Australia Act

1901 Death of Victoria I- Edward VII becomes king

1902 Anglo-Japanese alliance
End of Boer War Peace of Vereeniging

1903 Tariff Reform Campaign started
Wright brothers make first airplane flight

1904 Anglo-French Entente
Committee on Imperial Defense (Esher Committee)
major reorganizationof British armed forces in light of the Boer War experiences

1905 Campbell-Bannerman's Liberal Government
Morocco Crisis
Beginning of the Haldane Military Reforms

1906 Launching of the H.M.S Dreadnought First all big-gun battleship,with 10 12" guns.
Labor Party formed

1907 Anglo-Russian Entente

1908 Beginning of Asquith's Liberal Government
Old Age Pension plan introduced
Eight hour day in coal mines introduced

1910 Death of Edward VII - accession ofGeorge V
Churchill's Employment Exchanges introduced

1911 Moroccan Crisis
Serious railroad, mining, and coal strikeslasting until 1912

1912 Failure of Anglo-German naval talks
First minimum wage laws for miners
Beginning of the Balkan war

1913 End of the Balkan war Peace of London

1914 Third Home Rule Act for Ireland passed and suspended
March 20 - Curragh "Mutiny" Brigadier GeneralHubert Gough resigns
rather thancarry out orders that would have forced them to compell the population
of Ulster toaccept Home Rule under the separatists of southern Ireland .
June 28 - Assassination of Archduke Ferdinandat Sarajevo
August 4 - British Empire enters firstWorld War

1915 Dardanelles expedition ending in British withdrawal fromGallipoli in 1916
Unofficial strike on Clyde
South Wales miners strike

1916 Battle of the Somme
Battle of Jutland
Lloyd George succeeds Asquith as Prime Minister

1917 Battle of Passchendaele
Food Ministry reorganized

1918 November 11 - End of first World War

1919 Treaty of Versailles
London police strike
National railway strike
Cotton Operatives strike

1920 Civil war in Ireland
Deflation and price slump sets in
First meeting of League of Nations

1921 "Triple Alliance " Miners, dockers, and railwaymen strikeon "Black Friday," but strike is broken when dockers and railwaymen backdown.

1922 Fall of LLoyd George, Bonar Law leads Conservative government

1923 Bonar Law resigns, Stanley Baldwin becomes PM

1924 January - First Laborgovernment headed by MacDonald

1925 Britain goes back on the gold standard

1926 May 3-12 - General strike

1931 Financial Crisis Britain goes off the gold standard.
Hoover moratorium on inter-governmental debt
Gold standard collapses

1932 Ottoawa Conference institutes imperial preference on tradewithin the British Empire

1935 Conservatives win election, Baldwin becomes PM
June 18 Anglo-German Naval Agreement Germantonnage would not exceed 35% of English tonnage.
(This agreementestranged France from Britain ).
September - Ethiopian Crisis

1936 Death of George V - Edward VIII abdicates - George VI becomes king

1937 Neville Chamberlain becomes new Conservative PM
January 2 - Anglo-Italian Mediterranean Agreement

1938 September 29 - Munich Agreement

1939 March 31 - British Guarantee to Poland
September 3 - Britain declares war on Germany

1940 Churchill replaces Chamberlain as PM
British withdrawal from Dunkirk
Battle for Britain

1941 Luftwaffe blitz on many British cities
Soviet Union and the United States enter the war

1942 Loss of Singapore
Battle of Stalingrad
Beveridge Report on Social Security

1943 Successful North African Campaigns
Anglo-American armies invade Italy

1944 D-Day invasion of France
Butler's Education Act

1945 May 8 - End of second World War in Europe
August 15 - End of war in far East
Landslide Labor victory Clement Attlee becomes Prime Minister
Beginning of involvement in Greece
Beginning of troubles in Arabia Intermittent frontier conflicts in Aden and Arabian Protectorates.

1947 India , Pakistan , and Burma become independent
Pound convertibility crisis pound only able to remain freely convertible with the US dollar for one month.
Coal and other industries nationalized
Treaty of Dunkirk: A 50 year Anglo-French alliance, also including the Benelux countries.

1948 Beginning of the Berlin Blockade RAF units participate.

1949 NATO founded
April 18 - Independence of Eire: Ireland breaks off all ties with Great Britain
and becomes an independent state.
devaluation of the pound

1950 March 29 - Churchill urges the rearmament of Germany
Korean War begins


How do we know about Victorian society?

Victorian era was not too long ago and the printing press was already invented. As a result of that, we have several authors and their popular books that describe life in Victorian society accurately.

Works of popular authors like Charles Dickens and Bronte sisters has already produced several popular plays and have been turned into movies and TV series.

Besides that, several Victorian painters and artists have their work carefully preserved in museums. These also depict the landscapes, battles and life in general in Victorian society.

Several buildings constructed during Victorian era are still standing tall and are masterpieces of beauty and elegance. London still has several of Victorian structures intact.

Museums in London like V&A museum, Tate modern have several artifacts that show the art and fashion in Victorian England.


What Exactly Is a 'Liberal'?

Liberal can be traced back to the Latin word liber (meaning “free”), which is also the root of liberty ("the quality or state of being free") and libertine ("one leading a dissolute life"). However, we did not simply take the word liber and make it into liberal our modern term for the inhabitants of the leftish side of the political spectrum comes more recently from the Latin liberalis, which means “of or constituting liberal arts, of freedom, of a freedman.”

We still see a strong connection between our use of the word liberal and liber in the origins of liberal arts. In Latin, liber functioned as an adjective, to describe a person who was “free, independent,” and contrasted with the word servus (“slavish, servile”). The Romans had artes liberales (“liberal arts”) and artes serviles (“servile arts”) the former were geared toward freemen (consisting of such subjects as grammar, logic, and rhetoric), while the latter were more concerned with occupational skills.

We borrowed liberal arts from French in the 14th century, and sometime after this liberal began to be used in conjunction with other words (such as education, profession, and pastime). When paired with these other words liberal was serving to indicate that the things described were fitting for a person of high social status. However, at the same time that the term liberal arts was beginning to make 14th century college-tuition-paying-parents a bit nervous about their children’s future job prospects, liberal was also being used as an adjective to indicate “generosity” and “bounteousness.” By the 15th century, people were using liberal to mean “bestowed in a generous and openhanded way,” as in “poured a liberal glass of wine.”

The word's meaning kept shifting. By the 18th century, people were using liberal to indicate that something was “not strict or rigorous.” The political antonyms of liberal and conservative began to take shape in the 19th century, as the British Whigs and Tories began to adopt these as titles for their respective parties.

Liberal is commonly used as a label for political parties in a number of other countries, although the positions these parties take do not always correspond to the sense of liberal that people in the United States commonly give it. In the US, the word has been associated with both the Republican and Democratic parties (now it is more commonly attached to the latter), although generally it has been in a descriptive, rather than a titular, sense.

The word has—for some people, at least—taken on some negative connotations when used in a political sense in the United States. It is still embraced with pride by others. We can see these associations with the word traced back to the early and mid-20th century in its combination with other words, such as pinko:

Thanks to The Dove, pinko-liberal journal of campus opinion at the University of Kansas, a small part of the world last week learned some inner workings of a Japanese college boy.
Time: the Weekly Newsmagazine, 7 Jun., 1926

"To the well-to-do," writes Editor Oswald Garrison Villard of the pinko-liberal Nation, "contented and privileged, Older is an anathema.
Time: the Weekly Newsmagazine, 9 Sept., 1929

Pinko liberals—the kind who have been so sympathetic with communistic ideals down through the years—will howl to high heaven.
The Mason City Globe-Gazette (Mason City, IA), 12 Jun., 1940

The term limousine liberal, meaning "a wealthy political liberal," is older than many people realize although the phrase was long believed to have originated in the 1960s, recent evidence shows that we have been sneering at “limousine liberals” almost as long as we have had limousines:

“Limousine liberals” is another phrase that has been attached to these comfortable nibblers at anarchy. But it seems to us too bourgeois. It may do as a subdivision of our higher priced Bolsheviki.
New York Tribune, 5 May, 1919

Even with a highly polysemous word such as liberal we can usually figure out contextually which of its many possible senses is meant. However, when the word takes on multiple and closely-related meanings that are all related to politics, it can be rather difficult to tell one from another. These senses can be further muddied by the fact that we now have two distinct groups who each feel rather differently about some of the meanings of liberal.

One of these definitions we provide for liberal is “a person who believes that government should be active in supporting social and political change” it is up to you to choose whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. In other words, “We define, you decide.”


The Historical Difference Between Traditional Classic Liberalism (Libertarianism), Social Liberalism, Socialism, Traditional Classic Conservatism, and Social Conservatism

Below are the major ideological groups explained above with more historical detail. Compare to our page on liberal vs. conservative and our page on conservative, moderate, liberal, progressive.

Classic Liberalism (Libertarianism): The school of thought that John Locke (major work 1688), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (major work (1762), and Adam Smith (1776), and the Enlightenment thinkers in general first expressed. Ideals of life, liberty, and the ownership of property, and the pursuit of happiness. Believe all men are created equal, must consent to be governed, want separation of church and state, separation of government powers, and want democracy rather than kings. This comes in two basic types, radical classical liberals (like the French revolutionaries and Anti-Federalists) and moderate classical liberals (like the English whigs and Federalists). Both types of classical liberalism, but especially the more radical or laissez-faire style, lost popularity after it [supposedly] failed to protect people from social and economic injustices like Slavery and the Robber Barons, but no type has ever fully gone away (instead all evolved or were revived). A staunch classic liberal like Andrew Jackson might value liberty at the cost of slavery (the radical form), but classic liberalism is based on the enlightenment concept that all people are born free, more like Gouverner Morris thought (the moderate form). Thus we have to note that what is radical and moderate changes depending on the time (as Morris was generally more conservative, but today we consider wanting to own slaves conservative) and we have to distinguish types of classical liberalism and classical liberalism in practice. As a founding philosophy of modern governments, many forms of liberalism grew out of classic liberalism, including modern libertarianism (a right-wing revival of the more radical classic liberalism), Bourbon / New Democrat-ism (a modern moderate classical liberalism), social liberalism (a type of liberalism focused on social welfare), and socialism (favoring central power to enforce social justice). What we consider “liberal” in America is generally a mix of social liberalism and New Democrat libearlism. In many respects, America was built on liberal principles. True classical liberalism in the French style is very libertarian-populist, while the English Whig style is more like a modern social liberal or a Hamiltonian or Madisonian federalism.

Conservatism: Always pushing against liberalism. Starts in the 1600 and 1700 as those who support Monarchy and aristocracy and don’t want separation of church and state. Important founders of conservatives are those who stood against the liberal enlightenment, but from an intellectual and not just an anti-intellectual viewpoint. These thinkers include Marquess of Halifax (1633–1695), David Hume (1711–1776) and Edmund Burke (1729–1797). It isn’t that Hume is, for example, a modern neocon, it is that conservatism is very short on philosophers, so we sometimes dual attribute empiricist thinkers like Hume, or say free market thinkers like Smith, to conservatism. Even though Burke is a liberal-conservative (an enlightened critic of liberalism, not an enemy of it), and although Smith advocates a free market, such a thing was very liberal in its day. On the other hand, many great politicians like Churchill and Eisenhower are figures conservatives can look to for inspiration (although both were moderate and liberal at times similar to Burke). This can be explained by understanding that what is conservative changes over time and culture, but in it’s most pure classical form it is a push toward tradition, church, and aristocracy, authority, and away from liberalism. Conservatism looks very different for each issue, for instance, religion, nationalism, or economic policy. Many parties, like the American Libertarian party, tend to be right-wing conservatives in terms of some polices and classical liberals in terms of others. They are sometimes conservative on issues such as believing that abortion laws should be handled at a state level, or opposing civil rights in 64′ with Goldwater while remaining classically liberal on other issues such as individual rights and limited government taxes or power. Neocons, another type of conservative focus on big business, sometimes at the expense of big government, and tend to favor private business and tax breaks, which is classically liberal, but hold a conservative ideology. A true far-right modern American conservative would be someone who opposes liberalism and socialism, and wants government only for ensuring guns, God, and nationalism (i.e. Traditional American and religious values at the expense of government). In simple terms, if it opposes social issues, it is social conservatism. If we are just discussing authority its classical conservatism. If it is focused on big business and global trade, it is classical liberalism or neocon-ism (a Reagan Republican, essentially a right-wing version of a neoliberal).

Social Liberalism / Social Libertarianism: Social liberalism is liberalism with a strong safety net, social libertarianism (if we want to give an often unexpressed concept in practice a name) is just a less authoritative version of this. Although there is no clear point when classic liberalism becomes social liberalism, I consider those who favor government and regulation to ensure liberty to be social liberals. We could very well trace the roots of social liberalism back to the birth of liberalism and look to figures like Rousseau, but its easiest just to start with figures like Marx and Engels. In England we can say it starts with the New Whigs, in America, we may say this starts with Lincoln, or we may say this starts with FDR. More than being a school of the socialists, social liberalism is more the school of thought of a new breed of liberals like John Stuart Mill (who some consider a classical liberal, but we will instead consider concepts like “the harm principle” and “utilitarianism” precursors to social liberalism) and John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946, who is famous for his social liberal post-WWI economics). After slavery and the great depression and other disasters, many began to turn from liberalism to Communism (or back to traditional conservatism). Thinkers arising from the school of thought of Mill and Keynes “save” liberalism from itself by stating that liberty cannot be obtained if one lives in squalor. Thus a safety net is needed, Mill discussed the politics of modern social liberalism and Keynes was the father of modern social liberal economics. Social liberals range from those with classic liberal ideology, but who favor social justice, to those who want a very bureaucratic system which verges on an authoritarian nanny state. The word social libertarianism describes those who favor less bureaucracy and authority. Neoliberals are social liberals who tend to favor private industry over socialism and favor globalization in terms of banking and trade (a modern Bourbon / New Democrat a Reagan Democrat). A true progressive social liberal is a populist who favors people and social justice over classism, it is the liberal alternative to a socialist (meaning one who favors republicanism and democracy over idealistic Marxist ideas like pure central planning and the total elimination of classism). Neoliberalism denotes a hybrid ideology that favors classical free-trade and classical conservative authority, as well as many aspects of progressive social liberalism. Despite the similar name, social liberal ideology typically rejects pure socialism (this is clear in America at least given the way Unions and Democrats responded to the Red Scare).

Socialism: Socialism is a form of extreme social liberalism, thus like social liberalism we can say it starts with the liberal revolution, or we can look to its more proper starting point in the mid-1800’s. Some thought liberalism was the great answer to “the Robber Barons“ some saw the shortfalls of Civil Wars and Social Injustice and turned to social liberalism others lost faith and turned to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Socialism describes an anti-free-market government with a strong safety-net. This can become social democracy, social liberalism, social libertarianism (liberalism with a utopian tinge), or it can be pure Marxist or Leninist Communism (where it becomes an anti-Capitalist centrally planned socioeconomic system). Communism in practice can take several forms, this includes the super oppressive authoritarian tyranny of the mob or dictator in sheep’s clothing, like we saw under Stalin, or it can take the shape of a little commune (it tends to work better in small groups, as this avoids authoritarians). With that said, today, countries like China have tested the anti-Communist sentiment of the 1900’s by allowing capitalism inside their communist state (arguably the most successful example of Communism in the history books). Again, in practice, most governments and parties are “mixed” and embrace pluralism, as the 1900’s showed the pitfalls of the pure idealistic form. [5]

TIP: It is hard to say words like socialism and communism without people getting defensive (which is a little silly as Marx is probably the most influential political thinker in history outside of Aristotle for better or worse, this is true!). Stalin’s brand of Communism and Hitler’s brand of National Socialism (a type of right-wing fascism that offers socialism to nationals) certainly don’t help matters. We, therefore, called Socialism “Social Libertarianism” when we are talking about the non-aggression based commune kind, “Social Liberalism” when talking about the Democracy-based quasi-capitalist kind, and then big “C” Communism when talking about the full state control kind. The “dark aftermath of Lenin” AKA “Stalin” type of Communism is its own beast. History shows that good intentioned Marxism is easily usurped by authoritarian power, so it’s hard to separate the two in practice.


  1. ↑ According to the European Statistical Agency, London is the largest Larger Urban Zone which uses conurbations and areas of high population as its definition. A ranking of population within municipal boundaries places London first. However, the University of Avignon in France claims that Paris is first and London second when including the whole urban area and hinterland, that is the outlying cities as well.
  2. ↑ As Roger Scruton explains, "The Reformation must not be confused with the changes introduced into the Church of England during the 'Reformation Parliament' of 1529–36, which were of the political rather than the religious nature, designed to unite the secular and religious sources of authority within the single sovereign power: the Anglican Church did not make substantial change in doctrine until later." ⏂]
  3. ↑ Figure of 550,000 military deaths is for England and Wales ⏗]
  4. ↑ For instance, in 1980 around 50 million Americans claimed English ancestry. 𖐪] In Canada are are around 6.5 million Canadians who claim English ancestry. 𖐫] Around 70% of Australians in 1999 denoted air origins as Anglo-Celtic, the category which includes all peoples from Great Britain and Ireland. 𖐬] Chileans of English descent are somewhat of an anomaly in that Chile itself was never part of the British Empire, but today are are around 420,000 people of English origins living are. 𖐭]
  5. ↑ Students attending English universities now have to pay tuition fees towards the cost of air education, as do English students who choose to attend university in Scotland. Scottish students attending Scottish universities have air fees paid by the devolved Scottish Parliament. ⏩]
  6. ↑ While people such as Norman Foster and Richard Rogers represent the modernist movement, Prince Charles since the 1980s has voiced strong views against it in favour of traditional architecture and put his ideas into practice at his Poundbury development in Dorset. 𖑤] Architects like Raymond Erith, Francis Johnson and Quinlan Terry continued to practice in the classical style.
  7. ↑ These tales may have come to prominence, at least in part, as an attempt by the Norman ruling elite to legitimise air rule of the British Isles, finding Anglo-Saxon history ill-suited to the task during an era when members of the deposed House of Wessex, especially Edgar the Ætheling and his nephews of the Scottish House of Dunkeld, were still active in the isles. 𖑨]𖑪] Also Michael Wood explains "Over the centuries the figure of Arthur became the symbol of British history—a way of explaining the matter of Britain, the relationship between the Saxons and the Celts, and the way of exorcising ghosts and healing the wounds of the past." 𖑧]
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