“Describe the steps taken between 1832 and 1918 to extend the suffrage in England. What group and movements contributed to the extension of the vote?” Several groups, movements and reform bills passed between 1832 and 1918 extended the suffrage in England. The process took many years and the voting rights were first given to the wealthier and more distinguished men, then later to the less wealthy men, and finally to women. The major reform bills that extended the suffrage in England were the reform bill of 1832, 1867, and 1884, and the Qualification of Women Act in 1917. (Mazour, Peoples) The suffrage movement began in 1832 when the Reform Bill of 1832 was passed by parliment. The Prime Minister since 1830, Earl Grey, authored the Bill and it was introduced to the House of Commons in March of 1831 by John Russell. The bill was put down several times between 1831 and 1832. These decisions sent the English people into frenzies and riots broke out in many British towns. Finally the bill was passed in 1832 when it was brought to parliament for the third time.
The bill gave men who occupied homes with an annual value of 10 pounds the right to vote, but left out large sections of the lower middle class. Although some people were dissatisfied with the new bill because it only gave one in seven males the right to vote, it was a step in the right direction for the British. (Spartacus Educational Website) After the Reform Bill of 1832 was passed a group of citizens formed the Workingman’s Association, supporters of which were called chartists. The chartists believed in universal manhood suffrage and the secret ballot. The proposals were made known in the People’s Charter, which was denied by the Parliament. The chartists attempted to achieve their goal of universal manhood suffrage by using moral force, petitions, general strikes, physical force, public meetings and chartist newspapers which spread propaganda.
In 1791, the Bill of Rights, consisting of 10 amendments, was ratified into the constitution. The document's purpose was to spell out the liberties of the people that the government could not infringe upon. Considered necessary by many at the time of its development, the Bill of Rights became the cause for a huge debate between two different factions: The Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. The ...
These tactics proved to be useless because the parliament would not pass their bills. Riots in Newport, Wales led to the arrest of many of the chartist leaders in 1839. Then, in 1840, Feargus O’Connor, one of the remaining leaders formed the National Charter Association in an attempt to unify the goals of the chartists. The NCA’s petition did no better than original petition, both of which were rejected. After this final petition Chartism died out, mainly because of the many different goals of the members and because of the contention between the chartist leaders. Although the chartists did not directly cause any new voting laws to be passed, their ideas were spread throughout the country and eventually were passed in the late 19th century. (Enyclopedia.com) A decade after the chartist movement had died out, another reform act was in the making. The reform act was presented to the parliament several times between 1860 and 1865, but was rejected every time because the conservative party held the majority in parliament.
William Gladstone took over the liberal party in 1866, but still could not get the bill passed. Then, in 1867, Benjamin Disraeli, the leader of the House of Commons, proposed that the conservative party would be seen as anti-reform if they kept rejecting reform bills. “He approached the question of reform less as a Tory Radical than as a flexible Conservative” (Arnstein 114).
In 1867 the second reform act was passed by Disraeli, there were many factors which brought about the reform act and public pressure was definitely one of them however there were other factors which helped the 1867 reform act to be passed, such as the conservatives being opportunists, the personal ambitions of Disraeli and also the fear of unrest that pushed the act to be passed. Public pressure ...
Thus, the bill was finally passed in 1967 with the support of Gladstone, and had sweeping implication across Britain. (Spartacus Educational Website).
The bill that was actually passed by parliament was much different than the one envisioned only a couple years earlier, and proved to have far more democratic results than Disraeli had imagined. The registered electorate rose from 1,359,000 to 2,455,000, a 44 percent increase (Arnstein).
But the bill did not have as far reaching implications as one might expect.
This was due, in part, to the fact that not many seats in parliament were redistributed and some 40 aristocratic landowners still held their seats. Many of the new voters also continued voting for the old political parties as opposed to forming their own. Another problem with the voting system was the lack of a private vote. Employers could influence the way their employees voted by threatening to punish them if they failed to vote for their preffered candidate. This problem was fixed in 1872, when William Gladstone’s government passed the Ballot Act which guaranteed a secret system of voting. Although the immediate results of the reform act were not earth shattering, the country had taken, as Lord Derby said, “a leap in the dark.” Strikes, union advances, and labor organization were powerful forces for change in the final years of the century. William Gladstone was elected as Prime Minister of England for the second time in 1880 and the most important legislative action that took place during his second ministry was the Reform Act of 1884.
The reform act was rejected the first time it was presented to the House of Lords, but accepted the second time because it was accompanied by a redistribution act, which had the following implications. “(i) seventy-nine towns with populations smaller than 15,000 lost their right to elect an MP; (ii) thirty-six with populations between 15,000 and 50,000 lost one of their MPs and became single member constituencies; (iii) towns with populations between 50,000 and 165,000 were given two seats; (iv) larger towns and the country constituencies were divided into single member constituencies” (http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/PR1885.htm).
The actual Reform Act of 1884 increased the number of voters from 3,150,000 to 5,700,000. Although the reform act did not actually give Britain universal manhood suffrage, it came very close. The only men in Britain who could not vote in 1884 were men without a regular home, bachelors who lived with their parents, and butlers who lived with their masters.
Since the fiasco that was the Presidential Election in the year 2000, many Americans have been calling for a reform of the Electoral College. Most of these people were Gore supporters; disillusioned by the fact that Bush won the office of the President while, in fact, he lost the popular vote. The American people did not elect George W. Bush; the Electoral College did. Last year's circumstance was ...
During the passage of the three reform acts, another group of citizen were gathering their strength for a rebellion. This group was women. There were several groups of women who petitioned for the right to vote, the two most important being the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), founded in 1903 by Emmeline Pankhurst, and the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) directed by Garrett Fawcett. The movement for women’s suffrage surged at the turn of the 19th century, due much in part to these two groups. Although the groups both had the common goal of women’s suffrage, they went about their business in opposite ways. The NUWSS, whose members were called suffragists, held public meetings, organised petitions, wrote letters to politicians, published newspapers and distributed free literature, as opposed to the WSPU, whose members were called suffragettes, which shouted “votes for women” during political speeches, broke windows, and as the movement drew nearer to its goal the suffragettes attempted to burn down the houses of political officials opposing women’s suffrage (Spartacus Educational Website).
This strong movement by women put pressure on politicians to grant a reform and on March 28, 1917, the House of Commons voted 341 to 62 that women over the age of 30 who were householders, the wives of householders, occupiers of property with an annual rent of 5 pounds or graduates of British universities could vote. This gave suffrage to nearly 6 million women across England and signified that the women’s efforts had succeeded and that the fight for suffrage had succeeded thus far. (Arnstein) The fight for suffrage in England was a hard fought battle, even more so for women than for men. The first reform bill served to transfer voting privileges from the smaller boroughs to the more industrialized towns.
It also doubled the number of men eligible to vote and began a gradual progress toward democratic rule (Mitchell).
The second and third reform bills provided for a more democratic Britain by giving voting rights to less wealthy men. The Qualification of Women Act in 1917 was a huge step for women because it gave 6 million of them the right to vote. All of the reform bills were made possible because the middle and lower classes decided to speak up for themselves and the government could not ignore them. (Davies)
Although they both serve as linkage institutions, interest groups and political parties have different goals in politics. The fundamental goal of interest groups is to influence legislative decisions and public policy by attempting to focus people’s attention on these topics or educate them on a certain issue or a small group of issues. They do this mostly by lobbying congressional committees at ...
Arnstein, Walter L. Britain Yesterday and Today. Lexington, Massachusetts: D.C Heath and Company, 1983.
Davies, Norman. The Isles: A History. New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999 Encyclopedia. www.encyclopedia.com Mazour, Anatole G., Peoples, John M. World History: People and Nations. Orlando, Florida: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1993 Mitchell, Sally. Daily Life in Victorian England. Westport, Connecticut: The Greenwood Press, 1996 Spartacus Educational Website. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/PR1867.htm