Chapter

The Primacy of Palmerston? 1855–1865

G. R. Searle

in Entrepreneurial Politics in Mid-Victorian Britain

Published in print March 1993 | ISBN: 9780198203575
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191675874 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198203575.003.0005
The Primacy of Palmerston? 1855–1865

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Most present-day historians agree that by the late 1850s and early 1860s, entrepreneurial politics in Britain was losing its cutting edge. This has been ascribed to three causes. First, it is claimed that the working out of the repeal of the Corn Laws led to a closer rapprochement, or even ‘fusion’, between land and business, the classes that once opposed one another. Because they were ambitious for social promotion, many businessmen were busily engaged in purchasing land on their own behalf; and so had little to gain, but much to lose, from following Anti-Corn Law League spokesman Richard Cobden in an assault on the land system. Second, the trade prosperity of the late 1850s and early 1860s may have blunted discontent and made it difficult to mobilize the middle class in a new political campaign. Thirdly, there was the growing popularity of Lord Palmerston, who was now treated with respect by many one-time Radical businessmen. This chapter examines Lord Palmerston's influence on entrepreneurial politics and how it was affected by the American civil war.

Keywords: Britain; Lord Palmerston; entrepreneurial politics; American civil war; Richard Cobden; Corn Laws; middle class; Anti-Corn Law League; businessmen; land system

Chapter.  20220 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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