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1st Student's Major

English

1st Student's College

Arts and Humanities

Students' Professional Biography

Michael D. Snell-Feikema is a 2005 graduate of Minnesota State University atMankato, with a major in History and a minor in Anthropology. He was born in Iowa City, Iowa. He plans to attend graduate school in 2006, with the purpose of attaining an advanced degree in History.

Mentor's Name

Larry Witherell

Mentor's Email Address

larry.witherell@mnsu.edu

Mentor's Department

History

Mentor's College

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

This paper demonstrated that the force of public opinion as expressed by pro-reform agitations played a critical role in the attainment of working-class voting rights with the Reform Act of 1867. This Reform Act, which passed after more than a year of political disputes and public demands, gave most of the urban English working class the right to vote. In 1866 a modest reform bill sponsored by William Gladstone’s Liberal government had been defeated by a combination of Conservative and conservative Liberal opposition. After months of popular demonstrations, Benjamin Disraeli’s new Conservative government introduced another reform bill that initially was very restrictive. But after further public demonstrations and political conflict in parliament, the bill emerged as a radical measure that more than doubled the size of the electorate. The paper followed the course of the reform controversy and public agitations, and established that the working-class agitations in favor of parliamentary reform were a critical force in compelling parliament to enact comprehensive working class enfranchisement. The project used original source material, including the parliamentary debates, The Times and the Manchester Guardian, working class and radical newspapers such as the Beehive, Commonwealth and the e National Reformer, magazines such as Blackwood’s, Contemporary Review, and Quarterly Review, trade union minutes, memoirs, speeches, and private letters.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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