Was Britain on the Brink of a Revolution in 1830-32?

568 Words3 Pages
During the 19th century, every aspect of British life was transformed by industrial, social and cultural development. The French Revolution inspired reformers in Britain as much as it frightened the British Crown and landowning classes. Nonetheless, the British government, who was ru8n by the Tories at the time, seemed impervious to revolutionary change. Anti-government cartoons in the 1790s often included the most scabrous, even treasonable, representations of King George III. All threats of revolution were taken seriously. The authorities hastily assembled an extensive spy network. The most famous threat of a revolution was in August 1819 when a large crowd assembled at St Peter’s Fields in central Manchester to hear a pro-reform speech from Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt. Fearing uncontainable disorder, and perhaps even revolution, the Manchester authorities over-reacted and sent in troops to disperse the crowd by force. Eleven people were killed and the radicals were given a huge propaganda boost by referring to the event as ‘Peterloo’, in a grim analogy with the Duke of Wellington's famous victory over Napoleon at Waterloo four years earlier. This shows that the government did think Britain was on the verge of a revolution if they had to have authorities to disperse the crowd by force. This also shows the unrest Britain had as a whole, to the way Britain was governed. In response to the Duke of Wellington’s return to government, reform leaders made plans to bring the country to a halt by having their supporters withdraw funds from the banks, using the slogan: ‘To stop the Duke, go for Gold’. The crisis was averted. The Lords backed down and the Reform Bill was passed. However, the potential for revolution in 1831-32 was clear and the public support for parliamentary reform had never been greater. Another factor that made Britain on the brink of reform was due
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