Did the 1832 Reform Act Give Power to the Middle Classes? Essay

642 WordsDec 3, 20143 Pages
Many would argue that the 1832 Reform Act did transfer some degree of power and freedom to the middle classes of England. Firstly, it is evident that the principal result of the reform act was that the middle classes who earned over $10 were able to vote due to the uniform qualification. Clearly, by giving the majority of the middle classes the vote this gave them a substantial degree of power similar to the rich landed gentry, as well as some level of independence. Additionally, other positive evidence outlining the transference of power is that the reform act resulted in numerous seats of parliament being redistributed to sizeable industrial cities such as Manchester or Leeds that were previously unrepresented. The fact that these large vital conurbations were now embodied in parliament gave the middle classes present to be able to make choices without the aristocracy dictating the results. These areas, typically housing hundreds of thousands of people, would now be immune from intimidation and bribery from the upper classes so this was particularly successful in giving power to the middle classes. Correspondingly, several rotten boroughs were removed during this redistribution from parliament for not having a significant number of voters in comparison with the larger towns and cities. However, it is important to note that although numerous rotten boroughs were removed from parliament, the Reform Act of 1832 still gave 64 seats to the southern counties, which were already over-represented at this point in time. Furthermore, the government only removed the very worst boroughs and so as a result, about 120 rotten or pocket boroughs still continued post-1832. This alone proves that the reform act of 1832 failed to drastically transfer power to the middle classes, despite several key industrial towns gaining representation. Similar to this, connecting evidence

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