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The Forgotten Prime Minister: The 14th Earl of DerbyVolume I: Ascent, 1799–1851$
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Angus Hawkins

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199570911

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570911.001.0001

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Protection and Popery: 1849–1851

Protection and Popery: 1849–1851

(p.355) Chapter 7 Protection and Popery: 1849–1851
The Forgotten Prime Minister: The 14th Earl of Derby

Angus Hawkins

Oxford University Press

This chapter details the life and career of Edward Geoffrey Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, from 1849–1851. In early 1849 the economic tide turned in the Protectionists' favour. After September 1848 agricultural prices fell. In May 1850 corn reached its lowest value for fourteen years. Poor harvests and the influx of foreign wheat brought widespread agricultural distress, with livestock farmers, as well as arable farmers, suffering falling incomes. Protectionists argued that the commercial panic of 1847, the slowing of manufacturing production in 1848, and the onset of agricultural depression in 1849 had impoverished the labouring classes, incited social unrest, and inflamed political protest, in the form of Chartism. Only the reimposition of Protection could restore social harmony, political stability, and sustained prosperity. The intriguing historical question of 1849–50 is, how did Free Trade survive? Stanley's opposition strategy played its own part in the survival of Free Trade.

Keywords:   Stanley, Earl of Derby, Protectionists, Free Trade, agriculture

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