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Aristocratic Government in the Age of ReformWhigs and Liberals 1830-1852$
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Peter Mandler

Print publication date: 1990

Print ISBN-13: 9780198217817

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198217817.001.0001

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Whig Government, 1835–1841

Whig Government, 1835–1841

(p.157) 5 Whig Government, 1835–1841
Aristocratic Government in the Age of Reform

Peter Mandler

Oxford University Press

In England, the Whig government during the late 1830s was moderate but weak, so that it was beholden to the small knot of middle-class and Irish Radicals in the Commons, and that subservience, too, swayed the electorate against ideological politics. An alternative view suggests that it was the Whigs who paralysed the Radicals, rather than vice versa. Under either interpretation, Whigs and Tories are seen to be rallying together against the threat from below and groping towards the ‘Victorian compromise’ of moderate liberalism. Lord John Russell was fully aware of the need for a Whig legislative programme which would contribute to the progress of improvement and restore popular confidence in government. He had by 1837 got to grips with the Home Office and had already set in train a series of ambitious social reforms covering Poor Law, public health, and factory legislation. His engagement with social policy was to culminate in a frontal assault on the education question.

Keywords:   England, Whigs, Irish Radicals, Tories, liberalism, John Russell, Home Office, social reforms, social policy, public health

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