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Ap Suffrage In England Essay

1541 words - 7 pages

"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 ...view middle of the document...

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). 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....

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