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Lord Liverpool Essay, Research Paper

How convincing is the argument that the year 1822 marked a turning point in the way Lord Liverpool?s government approached its domestic policy ?On the face of it , the year 1822 did mark a significant turning point in the way Lord Liverpool?s administration dealt with its domestic policy . The importance of the cabinet reshuffle after the imminent death of Lord Castlereagh in 1822 , and the perceived move toward? Liberal Toryism? following this date has been well documented by a number of early historians , including W.R Brock and Spencer Walpole. ? With the changes of 1821-3 Liverpool was able to gather round him a group of liberal minded men ready to take whatever opportunities were offered for economic reforms ? The years of unrest , spanning from the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815 to the cabinet reshuffle of 1822 would also seem to point to a much more tolerable and less repressive government after this date .The Six Acts of 1819 were a repressive low for Liverpool?s administration. What followed throughout the 1820?s was a series liberal minded reforms led by Robinson , Huskinson and Peel , which did seem to change the nature of government .These men have generally been accredited with setting Britain on the road to free trade and Peel as home secretary successfully rationalised the legal system and legalised trade unions .However more recent Historians such as Eric Evans ,Cookson and Gash have persuasively argued that the ?Liberal Tory? phase of the Lord Liverpool administration was a natural response to the improved economic circumstance brought about by a more prosperous and confident Britain .Reforms introduced during this period were not new ideas instigated by a more liberal minded party , but those which many Tories had supported since the Pitt administration of the 1780?s .An economic revival simply meant that these ideas could be followed through without the threat of instability .As Historian Gash states, ?The 1820?s economic recovery gave scope for a policy less driven by fear of revolution ?.In fact many progressive ministers had already served in the administration before 1822 , Robinson had been in government since 1809 and had these fixed views and beliefs prior to the cabinet reshuffle , as did many of his so called reactionary peers .As Eric Evans suggests , 1819 is a better candidate for a change in the Liverpool administration , although not one specific date can be given .It was 1819 that saw the first real steps toward Free trade ( Britain started the process of returning to the gold standard ) through Peels conscious efforts and links with economists such as Ricardo , this was to launch Britain into a new free market economy, one which had only been postponed by the out break of the Napoleonic wars .

Free Trade was a highly debated issue throughout the early nineteenth century . Pitt as Prime Minister during the 1780?s had raised it as an important issue and many parallels can be drawn between his administration of 1783 to 1801 and the Liverpool government of 1812 to 1827 . It shows a Tory party intent on bringing in Free Trade measures well before 1822 . Legislation such as the Commutation Act introduced by Pitt increased the government yield on wines by 29 per cent , on spirits by 63 per cent and on tobacco by 39 per cent .This gave a government surplus of 1.7 million pounds by 1792 , 47 per cent higher than when Pitt came to office in 1783.Other Free Trade measures from Pitt?s administration included the expansion of British trade into the Orient. By reducing tariffs on Chinese tea for example Pitt induced the Mogul Empire to import Western manufactured goods as well as produce from other countries in the British Empire. Indian raw cotton, Asian spice and opium all began to enter China after Pitt?s India Act of 1784 , the legislation handed responsibility of Indian affairs to Henry Dundas and a new office for trade was created, the ?President of the Board of Control?.

The expansion of British trade under Pitt was to see domestic exports triple in the twenty years after 1784 and the governments increasing involvement in trade affairs was to become crucial in providing income to finance the Napoleonic wars only a few years later. Liverpool?s use of Free Trade is also very noticeable during the 1820?s . Both the 1824 and 1825 budgets saw import revenues being dramatically cut , silk import duty by 30 per cent , manufactured goods duty reduced from 50 to 20 per cent and raw material import duties cut by half .Between 1821 and 1827 import revenue increased by a total 64 per cent due to the extra trade created . The apparent lack of Free Trade measures after 1792 until the early 1820?s can be explained by a huge budget deficit created by the Napoleonic wars . It wasn?t until the 1820?s when the war had ended and the deficit repaid that Britain could resume its status as a free trading nation .The new found prosperity Britain was enjoying gave way to a more stable economy and a government which could bring in the Free Trade measures with out the threat of debt or public unrest . ?increasing social stability by means of increased prosperity brought about by the freeing of trade ?.Liverpool?s government was always in favour of a Free Trading Britain as Pitt?s administration had been before him . The importance of economic circumstance to the introduction of Free Trade is demonstrated by two statements taken from Tory MP?s at the time the legislation was being introduced. The first is from William Huskisson in 1825 explaining the value of tariff reduction to the British economy. The second extract is taken from a Tory MP speaking in 1830, he is a defender of protectionism and attacks the governments Free Trade policy. The documents show conflicting views over Free Trade from within the same party due to the time each speech was delivered. The first in 1825 during a period of economic prosperity when Free Trade was seen as the actions of the confident and optimistic, protectionism was not needed as Britain was experiencing an economic boom .The second in 1830 when British trade was in recession and protectionism once again became a pressing issue. It was economic circumstance that therefore determined the gradual introduction of free trade , 1822 can be seen not as a turning point in the way Liverpool approached his domestic policy but as an on going opportunity through out this period to introduce measures previously marred by social instability and a weak economy.. Events such as the march of the Blanketeers or Spa Fields saw the question of Parliamentary Reform being raised on a number of occasions and demonstrated its widening support . With law and order as the main concern little time was spent discussing policies of Free Trade .

Law and order was of the highest importance to the Liverpool administration of 1812 to 1827 , but as in the case of free trade the Tory party did not change its policy after 1822 .Historians such as W.R Brock or Woodward have argued that the period 1815 to 1822 was one of strong reaction and repression by the Liverpool government . This theory only seems to be perpetuated by the introduction of legislation such as the Six Acts in 1819 or the Suspension of Habeas Corpus in 1817, many saw these laws as a threat to their basic rights and freedoms and they stirred much working class resentment??.. The ?Peterloo? massacre demonstrated the governments will to use violence . However more recent Historians such as Plowright , Gash and Derry have convincingly argued otherwise. In 1817 for example the Poor Employment Act was introduced , this made available state loans amounting to 750 thousand pounds for encouraging fisheries and public works organised by local authorities .Even the Corn Laws of 1815 ( which can be seen as the cause of most public unrest during this period ) can be regarded as an attempt by Liverpool to smooth the transition from wartime to peacetime by protecting the countries main source of employment .Other events previously regarded as repressive measures are now also seen under a different light .The suspension of Habeas Corpus in 1817 for example only resulted in 44 arrests on the grounds of treason , of whom only 37 were detained . All where released by the time Habeas Corpus was reinstated in January 1818 .As Gash has stated ? It was hardly a reign of terror ?.The Seditious Meetings Act of 1817 was another short lived affair lasting only until early 1818 .The Six Acts of 1819 which followed the Peterloo Massacre also do not deserve their repressive label .Three of the Acts merely plugged loop holes in existing laws and a further two where only temporary and never renewed .As Derry clearly states ? What is surprising is not their savagery but their restraint ?. This is not to say however that all Liverpool?s actions throughout this period were passed without repression in mind .It had been ,and always would be the governments policy to oppose radical and revolutionary demands as any future nineteenth century administration would demonstrate This was the natural response of any aristocratic government. Opposition to Chartist violence for example during the 1840?s illustrates both a social and political dislike of revolution by the middle class and the government. The unwillingness to accept revolutionary pressure is demonstrated on a number of occasions during the pre 1822 period .The ?Peterloo? Massacre of 1819 saw the brutal slaughter of 11 innocent people and over 400 hundred injured whilst peacefully listening to a radical protest. The actions of the magistrates responsible for carry out this tragedy were also supported by Liverpool?s government ?their prompt, decisive action and efficient measures for the preservation of public peace?(Lord Sidmouth) .Other events such as the march of the Blanketeers in 1817 also saw an overreaction by the government when faced with a possible threat .Hand loom weavers from Lancashire and Yorkshire planned to march to London to present a petition to Prince Regent concerning unemployment , the high price of bread and parliamentary reform .However, local authorities were tipped of about the march and the leaders arrested . On the day of march the Blanketeers only reached Stockport before being disbanded by soldiers, many marchers were detained under Habeus Corpus and 13 put on trial. These actions could be seen as the ?political response of Toryism? and one which would remain long after 1822 . Spies were also used by the Liverpool government to infiltrate radical groups and pass on information to the authorities. The most notorious of these being ?Oliver the Spy?, who was responsible for both the break up of the Blanketeers march and the infiltration of the Cato Street Conspiracy in 1820. However, although used to great affect by the administration cases brought to court on the evidence of spies rarely led to convictions as many weren?t trusted. At the trial of Thistlewood and Watson after the Spa Field Riots a High Tory, Wetherell defended the two men. ?you will hereafter consider whether Mr. Castle (spy) is not the man who has made these men his dupes, organised and framed the whole of the projects which he represents were moulded into a system of conspiracy, forming an ideal conspiracy for purposes of his own?. Although the use of spies was unsuccessful in some cases the very fact men were employed by the government to infiltrate radical groups demonstrates a true distrust of the people they governed and a true fear of revolution. This was clearly a violation of the publics personal security and is another example of the measures the administration would take to retain power. A lack of repression after 1822 can be explained by the improved economic conditions and the dying down of public unrest around this time. The government however had not changed its policy on violence as the legalisation of trade unions demonstrated in 1825 .The amendment of the previous law passed in 1824 gave harsh penalties for those using violence in trade union protests and showed the Tory governments continuos support for repression in the face of public unrest .Again 1822 did not mark a turning point in the way Liverpool approached his domestic policy as repressive measures in 1825 demonstrate .The ?Liberal Tory? phase of Liverpool?s administration commented on by such Historians as Beales and Briggs came in sharp contrast to the ?repressive? legislation of 1815 to 1822 .This era supposedly demonstrated the Tories will to reform all areas of society , ranging from the legal system to factory reform .Legislation such as the Combination laws in 1824 which legalised Trade Unions sort to improve working conditions in factories and Peels amendments of the criminal code between 1826 and 1827 helped rationalise a system which saw people hanged for only minor offences .

Peels reforms of the penal code in 1823 marked the first real move by the Tory party to improve and modernise the legal system .This has been generally noted as a liberal reform and commented on by Historians such as Beales .?In 1823 Peel took up the cause [ judicial reform ] and abolished the death penalty for a further 100 offences ?.. These were the years of ?Liberal Toryism ?.However , although Peel did significantly change the legal system in 1823 and in further amendments in 1825 , 1826 and 1827 his reforms were based on the Utilitarian ideas of efficiency and not Liberalism. Peels amendment of the penal code replaced thousands of custom laws with one statute , this greatly increased the efficiency of the system and meant more criminals could be quickly convicted .The abolition of the death penalty for over 100 offences also increased the efficiency and strength of the legal system .Previously , Juries had been unwilling to convict criminals for minor offences which carried the death penalty .In 1822 a man could be hanged for stealing from a shop , taking two pounds from a dwelling house or even for impersonating a Greenwich pensioner. By reducing the sentence these crimes received the courts were able to convict many more people, in 1830 for example 12,805 people were convicted compared to 9318 convictions ten years earlier, before the system was rationalised. Peel not only increased the efficiency of the legal system in 1823 but with the Combination laws of 1824 sought to legalise Trade Unions .They had previously been banned in 1799 and this new law , it was hoped , would help air workers opinions and create a fairer working environment . However , once again Peel was not reforming solely for a liberal cause . In legitimising these organisations Peel used the Combination laws to ? neutralise working class subversion? preventing them from going underground .In this way the government always had control over the actions of Trade Unions , this law in a way reduced the rights of the working class man .Peel further enhanced government power over Trade Unions in the amending act of 1825 after a series of Trade Union strikes . Harsh penalties were given for anyone using violence in forcing people to strike and a significant decline in Trade Union activity followed. Peel again demonstrates his use of reform to maintain law and order .

Peel also sort to improve conditions in Gaols with the Gaols act of 1823 . The new law compelled the Justices to inspect prison every three months and send reports to the Home Office .Prisoners were also to be visited by chaplain and surgeon in their cells .They were to be given work , religious instruction and taught how to read and write whilst jailers were to be paid , to reduce corruption . Peel realised that prisons should help rehabilitate offenders and not just serve as a punishment .This view was shared by T.P Buxton, a humanitarian reformer in 1818 , ? You give him

( a man ) leisure, and for the employment of that leisure you give him tutors in every branch of iniquity .You have taken no pious pain to turn him from the error of his ways , and to save his sole alive ?.This law reduced corruption in the prison system and helped educate criminals , decreasing the chances of re-offending , Peel again demonstrates his use of Utilitarianism and efficiency .

These reforms seem to support the ?Liberal Tory? principle , however , more recent Historians such as Evans and Gash take a different view .The year 1822 was neither a turning point nor a mile stone for the Tory government , they brought about reforms typifying their aristocratic dominance throughout the period and were never committed to significant change .There were limits beyond which no Tory minister was prepared to go , over fundamental issues such as Parliamentary reform , Catholic emancipation and the Corn Laws the Tory leadership remained unanimously opposed .Lord Palmerston speaking in July 1826 commented on the governments unwillingness to answer the important questions, ?On the Catholic question; on the principles of commerce; on the settlement of the currency ?.. : on these questions and everything like them , the Government find support from the Whigs and resistance from their self denominated friends ?. The Corn Laws had been the main cause of public unrest during the ?repressive? years between 1815 and 1822. The proceeding ?liberal? phase saw no attempt by the Tory government to repeal or amend these laws in any significant way other than the introduction of a more flexible sliding scale in 1828 which had little effect. ?the clumsy sliding scale of duties which tapered to nominal rates when wheat prices reached 73s.? This amendment was introduced 1 year after Liverpool?s death , a sign which may indicates his true support for this law and an opposition to amend it while he was alive . The law also failed in its objectives to discourage speculation and promote steady supplies .Catholic Emancipation was the other burning question during this period and again it wasn?t answered until after Liverpool?s death , introduced in 1829 under significant revolutionary pressure from Ireland . If the original division of Tory administration into two phases is misleading , it has some significance in religious matters .The 1822 cabinet reshuffle strengthened the support for Catholic Emancipation within the government and brought it a step closer .Only Peel , Liverpool and a handful of Ultra Tories stood out as leading ministers against emancipation , committed to upholding the beliefs of the Anglican Church. This anti Catholic view is demonstrated in 1825 when both Peel and Liverpool threaten to resign , as radical Whig , Sir Francis Burdett?s Catholic relief bill passed in the House of Commons . Although the cabinet reshuffle of 1822 did seem to bring Catholic Emancipation closer Liverpool?s policy at the head of the Tory party never changed , he would always uphold the values of the Anglican Church and oppose any religious tolerance . As well as opposing key liberal issues many reforms brought in after 1822 had their origins in the previous ?reactionary? period. The question of Parliamentary reform also remained unanswered after 1822 and shows the governments distaste for change. In 1826 corruption had been proved in two boroughs East Retford and Penryn. Lord John Russel introduced a bill into the commons proposing to disenfranchise them but it was rejected and a compromise was struck. The Lords also amended the bill resulting in the resignation of Huskisson and a number of other MP?s. Parliamentary reform was a sensitive issue for the Tories during this period and it resulted in a number of splits within the party. After Lord John Russell?s early attempts Parliamentary reform remained untouched until after Liverpool?s resignation a year later.

The Tory administration of 1812 to 1827 has been debated by Historians for decades .Early analysis concluded that it could be divided into two stages , a ?repressive? phase from 1815 to 1822 and a more liberal phase from 1822 to 1827 . Later Historians such as Cookson or Gash however have convincingly disregarded with this view stating that Liverpool?s administration was ?neither reactionary or reformist in 1822? .The key to understanding the differences in Tory rule between 1815 and 1827 lie in the distinction between the ?political? and ?economic? responses of Toryism .The years 1815 to 1822 show a typical response of an aristocratic government in the face of radical reform , where as 1822 to 1827 demonstrate that reforms of a non-fundamental nature could be conceded when the government thought them expedient , and when there was no threat of public unrest or social instability . N. Gash argues that ?the mythical transformation of the ministry from ??reactionary tory?? before 1822 to ??liberal tory?? afterwards was the invention of subsequent Historians .Liverpool?s object was not to alter course but to reorganise his crew for a voyage that had already started ?. The 1822 cabinet reshuffle after the death of Castlereagh played no significant part in the introduction of free trade for example . Many of the more progressive , free trading ministers after 1822 had served long apprentiships in the so deemed ? repressive ? administration before this date .Robinson had been in the government since 1809 , Huskisson since 1815 and Peel since 1812 .These men had fixed views on free trade and laissez faire government well before 1822 . The policies and schemes adopted between 1822 and 1827 were already in existence and merely speeded up . Peel for instance , found that a pattern for reform in criminal law had already been set up by an 1819 committee led by Romilly , Mackintosh and Buxton . The reforms introduced during this period were ?concessionary? and did not attempt to alter the basic constitutional structure .The Tories were willing to reform where necessary , however , often the legislation?s passed only attempted to increase the efficiency of existing systems and not create more liberal ones. If a date must be found for a change in Liverpool?s domestic policies 1819 is a better candidate than 1822 .As Evans argues , until this date ministers felt agriculture and not industry provided the better prospect for economic growth. This is demonstrated by Britain returning to the Gold Standard and the initialisation of Free Trade through economists such as Ricardo. In summary , the Tory administration of 1812 to 1827 changed very little in its principles and beliefs . Free trade and law and order can be considered two of the main themes in Liverpool?s administration . The initialisation of Free trade in 1819 can be traced back to Pitt?s government during the late eighteenth century . The Tory?s principles on law and order also remained the same before and after 1822 , acting strongly in the face of public unrest and violence . This is demonstrated by the Peterloo massacre of 1819 and the repeal of the Combination laws in 1825 following Trade Union violence . Liverpool?s policies from 1815 to 1827 were controlled either by economic circumstance or by the aristocratic principles which bound him . The year 1822 marks not a sudden change in Liverpool?s domestic policy but a transition from war time debt and public unrest to economic prosperity and social stability .

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