The Peel Web
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Reasons for the Anti-Corn-Law League's success
- singularity of objective, and persistence in the face of strong opposition. It had a well-organised back-up campaign
- they could rely on strong support from the middle class. The Anti-Corn-Law League had a class unity and financial backing
- the Anti-Corn-Law League used sound arguments,
which eventually prevailed. At times they did seem prone to exaggeration but
the 1840 Select Committee's Report on Import
Duties gave a strong objective reinforcement of the League's arguments.
Villiers and Thornley both sat on the committee, which reported in favour
of lower tariffs. Basically, the Anti-Corn-Law League had got the answer to
the "Condition of England Question" right.
- the Anti-Corn-Law League secured direct parliamentary representation by contesting seats at by-elections and the general
election. They set up registration societies and even suggested 40/- freeholds as 21st birthday presents to give them extra votes.
- they had an excellent campaign organisation. They used the press (the Manchester
Guardian, The League), the platform, pamphlets (especially after 1841),
the Penny Post, the telegraph, railways. The
two latter were in the hands of the middle classes, which gave the Anti-Corn-Law
League easy access to the facilities.
- they attracted some ex-Chartists
and some agricultural support; the new Conservative
Party was willing to listen even if it was slow to act. The Anti-Corn-Law
League was fortunate in having Peel as
- they gave their campaign the guise of a religious crusade. In August 1841
the Church Conference in Manchester gave the Anti-Corn-Law
League its full support. Dr Pye Smith said, 'The doctrine and practise
of free trade was in harmony with the essential principle and the benevolent
design of the Gospel' and Archibald Prentice commented cynically, 'I thought
that the Bible might as well be quoted as the Wealth of Nations'
- members of the Anti-Corn-Law League often had
political power because they had the right to vote
The Anti-Corn-Law League
The Famine in Ireland
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4 March, 2016