BECK index

Britain: War and Recovery 1800-30

by Sanderson Beck

Britain and War 1800-05
Britain and War 1806-10
Britain and War 1811-15
Bentham’s Utilitarian Ethics
Malthus, Ricardo and James Mill
Ireland and Scotland 1800-30
Britain under the Tories 1815-19
Britain under the Tories 1820-30
Owen’s Economic Reforms
Thompson and Owenism

Britain and War 1800-05

      Napoleon sent the British a peace proposal that Pitt received on the last day of 1799. In two days the Prime Minister persuaded George III that they could not trust the French, and Grenville sent the rejection to Talleyrand. On 3 February 1800 Pitt explained his reasons to the House of Commons which confirmed his policy 265-64 while Charles Fox continued to oppose the long war. On 24 January the French army agreed to leave Egypt, and British ships transported them back to France. British ambassador Charles Whitworth conspired with Russians in St. Petersburg to depose Tsar Paul who learned of the plot on 31 March and pronounced Whitworth a persona non grata. When Paul discovered that General Abercromby had excluded Russian troops from the occupation of Malta, the Tsar expelled the British diplomats and barred British ships from Russian ports. Dundas and General Charles Grey persuaded Pitt not to attack France. Instead in early June a flotilla with 4,200 troops led by Major General Thomas Maitland headed for Belle Isle but was scattered by a storm.
      On 23 June 1800 the British made another deal to subsidize the Austrians who a day before had learned that their armies had been devastated by Napoleon’s army near Marengo in northwest Italy. The British promised to provide £2 million in three installments to support 200,000 Austrian soldiers, but Austrian envoys signed an armistice with the French on 28 July. In August the British declined to join the peace negotiations. Napoleon sent another peace offer to London on the 24th. Pitt and Grenville were willing, but George III and the war secretaries Dundas and Windham adamantly refused. In 1800 Pitt spent £10 million raising 80,000 men. On 4 September the French garrison on Malta surrendered. Britain’s Alien Office helped plot an attempted assassination that killed less than a dozen people in Paris on 24 December as Napoleon escaped. Having received much gold from Britain, on 15 November the Austrians ended their armistice with the French who routed their army at Hohenlinden on 3 December. The Austrians got another armistice and then agreed to a treaty with the French at Luneville on 9 February 1801. They recognized France’s “sister republics” in Europe, and the French withdrew their troops from them.
      Pitt wanted to pass a Catholic emancipation bill, but on 28 January 1801 George III said that he would consider anyone who proposed it to him an enemy. The King told him to postpone it, and he hoped that Pitt would not resign. Henry Addington had been loyal to Pitt as Speaker of the House of Commons since 1789, but he opposed Irish emancipation. Pitt resigned on 5 February, and the King asked Addington to form a government. He agreed. On the 19th George III slipped into madness again and went into a coma on 2 March. Yet by the 14th he had recovered and passed the seals from Pitt to Addington. Pitt declined to shed his debts of £46,000, and friends subscribed only £11,700. Half his cabinet resigned with him, and Grenville persuaded Robert Jenkinson to be Foreign Secretary. An expedition with 16,000 troops led by General Abercromby was sent to Egypt, but he was killed in the battle against the French at Alexandria on 21 March. Eventually General Menou surrendered on 2 September, and the last 13,000 French troops left Egypt.
      On 16 December 1800 Russia, Sweden, Denmark, and Prussia had declared the League of Armed Neutrality. Prime Minister Pitt learned of it on 13 January 1801, and the next day Britain announced an embargo against those in the league. Grenville sent Whitworth to Copenhagen to warn the Danes to withdraw from the League or be penalized. They ignored this ultimatum, and he left after ten days. On 2 April Nelson led a fleet of 34 warships to Copenhagen where three ran aground. A reserve squadron signaled for Nelson to withdraw, but he claimed he did not see it and continued to fight. The British had 250 men killed and 700 wounded. The Danes suffered 1,600 casualties, and on the 9th they agreed to an armistice for 14 weeks. A cabal had assassinated Tsar Paul on 23 March, and Tsar Alexander disbanded the League of Armed Neutrality on 19 May.
      Britain supplied the Portuguese with weapons from 1798 to 1800 and by 1801 had loaned them £210,688. Spain threatened invasion, and Portugal agreed to a treaty at Badajoz on 6 June 1801 and promised to close Portuguese ports to the British. Nelson’s squadron attacked Boulogne twice in August. Britain and France signed an armistice on 1 October, began negotiating in December, and on 25 March 1802 they signed a treaty at Amiens. The British recognized France’s territory by the Rhine and their sister republics. Britain held onto Ceylon and Trinidad but gave back Martinique, St. Lucia, and Tobago to France. They also returned the Cape of Good Hope and Guinea to the Dutch, Minorca to Spain, Egypt to Turkey, Elba to Tuscany, and Malta to the Knights of St. John. The French withdrew their troops from Naples and its four sister republics. Britain’s Navy dominated the seas, but France’s armies had prevailed on land. In 1793 the British Navy had 15,000 men and 268 ships, but by 1801 these increased to 133,000 men and 479 ships. The British army had been reduced to 95,000 soldiers with 48,000 militia, 24,000 reserves, and 18,000 troops in Ireland.
      The first Parliament of the British Union was prorogued on 29 June 1801 until 31 August. In the elections of July and August the Tory Party of Addington won 383 seats, the Whigs led by Fox got 269, and Pittites 6. In the spring of 1801 an emergency act relieved rate-payers. The petitioning movement continued until May when mass meetings were held. United Englishmen and others used hand signals and oaths. The United Britons were organized in the north to work for the independence of Britain and Ireland and equal rights, and they were revived in 1802. One of those released in March 1801 was Col. Despard who plotted a coup and was arrested on 16 November 1802. He was convicted of treason and executed with six others on 21 February 1803. In 1802 the Royal Military College began, and the Militia Act raised 51,500 men to defend the homeland, and a second one in 1803 added 25,000 more men.
      Both sides were violating the Amiens Treaty, and on 21 February 1803 Napoleon told ambassador Whitworth that the British must evacuate Malta. After debating for two months the British instructed Whitworth to tell Napoleon that the British would stay on Malta for ten years and that the French army must leave the Netherlands and Switzerland. Bonaparte said the British could remain in Malta if the French could occupy Otranto and Taranto in southern Italy for a decade also. Whitworth rejected that and departed on 11 May. One week later George III declared war against France. Napoleon ordered the British in France arrested and their ships and cargoes in French ports confiscated, and he banned imported British goods on neutral ships. In the next few weeks French troops occupied Naples, Brindisi, Taranto, and Hanover. The British Navy had 192 warships to France’s 50, and British squadrons blockaded Brest, Rochefort, Ferrol, Toulon, and the coast from Boulogne to Flushing. The British Navy took over St. Lucia and Tobago from the French in June, Demefara, Essequibo, and Berbice from the Dutch in September, and St. Domingue from the French by December.
      By January 1804 the British had raised 85,000 militia and more than 400,000 volunteers. The Levy en Masse Act was used to supplement the volunteers, and doctors, clergy, and Quakers were exempt. King George III relapsed into madness in February, but he recovered in March and resumed signing warrants on the 19th. Prime Minister Addington announced on 29 April that after the budget was approved, he would resign. The King appointed Pitt again on 18 May. Meanwhile the Alien Office had planned a coup to remove Napoleon who by now had security run by the Paris police chief Dubois; they arrested 356 suspects, and many were given long prison sentences. Pitt’s Force Bill to expand the army passed 265-223 on 18 June. He was so desperate for money that he sent four frigates led by Captain Graham Moore to capture a Spanish bullion convoy from America, and on 5 October they seized more than £1 million in gold and silver. Spain’s Carlos IV demanded compensation, was ignored, and declared war against Britain on 12 December and made a treaty with France on 4 January 1805, promising to pay them 72 million francs annually.
      Between 1801 and 1821 Britain passed 19 railway acts. In February 1804 Richard Trevithick’s steam engine ran a railway in the Penydarren Ironworks at Merthyr Tydvil in South Wales. Also in 1804 the landowners dominating Parliament passed the first Corn Law to impose a tax on imported wheat so that they could benefit from the high prices and bad harvests during the war.
      Emperor Napoleon’s peace offer to George III at the start of 1805 was rejected by Pitt who reported his own peace strategy to his cabinet, hoping to resolve European conflicts diplomatically after France was defeated. On 14 January the King gave Addington a peerage as Viscount Sidmouth and appointed him president of his council. The government was divided into five factions led by Pitt, Fox, Grenville, Addington, and Crown Prince George. After the Archbishop of Canterbury died on the 18th, the King and Pitt quarreled over who would be his successor. Henry Dundas, who had become Viscount Melville and Lord of the Admiralty, was accused of mishandling funds and resigned on 6 May. Because the budget was increasing from £12,350,600 in 1804 to £18,864,000 in 1805, Pitt raised taxes and revived the income tax that Addington had cancelled in 1802.
      Britain was subsidizing Austria’s 250,000 troops and Russia’s 112,000 with £3.5 million. The British signed a provisional treaty with Russia on 11 April 1805, and Tsar Alexander ratified it on 28 July. Austria demanded £3 million, but the British offered £1,666,665 which was accepted on 9 August. The British in August 1804 had offered Sweden’s King Gustavus £60,000 a month to use Pomerania as a base and to trade with Stralsund, but he did not agree until 3 December. On 31 August 1805 Gustavus accepted £150,000 a year for supplying 12,000 troops; but he demanded more and on 3 October agreed to a deal to initiate troop transfer for £62,500 and £50,000 to improve the Stralsund fortress. On the 21st Nelson’s fleet of 33 ships with 17,000 men and 2,148 cannons met Villeneuve’s French fleet of 26 warships and 15 Spanish with 30,000 men off Cape Trafalgar. The British had 458 men killed and 1,208 wounded, but they killed 3,243 French and Spanish while capturing 4,000 of each. A sniper killed Nelson. After the battle in a storm about 3,000 prisoners drowned.

Britain and War 1806-10

      William Pitt the Younger was a heavy drinker, ate too much, and suffered from an ulcer, cirrhosis, uremia, and gout. He died on 23 January 1806. William Grenville had been Foreign Secretary and leader in the House of Lords from 1791 to 1801 when he moved closer to the Whig leader Charles James Fox. Then Grenville succeeded Pitt as Prime Minister and Lord of the Treasury in a Ministry of All Talents that included Fox as Foreign Secretary, Henry Petty as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and William Windham as Secretary of War.
      The British sent 6,000 troops to southern Africa commanded by Admiral Home Popham, who had developed a signal code for the Royal Navy in 1803. They forced the Dutch to surrender Capetown on 18 January 1806. Fox learned of a plot to kill Napoleon, and by informing him in February he gained release of General Seymour, Earl of Yarmouth. On 26 February Prussia’s Friedrich Wilhelm III barred British merchants from Prussian ports, and his army invaded Hanover. The British responded by attacking Prussian ships and taking them as prizes. Napoleon offered to return Hanover to Britain, and this persuaded Prussia to make a secret treaty with Britain on 27 June for £100,000 and £1 million more that year so that Prussians would fight the French. The British also sent to Prussia 40 cannons, 10,000 muskets, 100,000 flints, and 3 million cartridges.
      Popham initiated an expedition in April against Buenos Aires that surrendered on 27 June, capturing £1.1 million in prize money, but the British garrison he left behind capitulated on 7 July. Britain sent 2,000 troops on a flotilla that attacked Buenos Aires in August. A British force with 6,000 troops besieged Montevideo on 3 February 1807, suffered fewer casualties than the Spaniards and took 2,000 men prisoners. In July about 10,000 British attacked Buenos Aires and lost nearly 3,000 men killed, wounded, captured, or missing. On 3 July the British lost another 3,000 men fighting the French near Maida on Sicily.
      William Wilberforce founded the Society for the Suppression of Vice in 1802, and his bill to abolish the slave trade passed the House of Commons in June 1804 but was defeated in 1805. After Pitt’s death Wilberforce and Fox led the effort in the Commons, and Grenville did so in the Lords for the Foreign Slave Trade Bill that gained royal assent on 23 May 1806. Fox died in September, but slavery was an issue in the election in November. Wilberforce was re-elected and published his 400-page Letter on the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1807, and the Slave Trade Act became law on 25 March.
      In his Berlin decree on 21 November and his Milan decree on 17 December 1806 Napoleon announced a blockade of all British trade by his “Continental System.” British exports in 1805 were £10,320,000, but in 1807 they fell to £5,090,000. After the November 1806 election the Grenville ministry had 308 supporters and 151 independents favoring them while the Pittite opposition was reduced to 90 seats with 102 independents favoring them.
      George III’s refusal to approve the Catholic emancipation bill led Grenville and his partners to resign on 24 March 1807. The King made the Duke of Portland Prime Minister again with Robert Stewart and Viscount Castlereagh as war ministers and the Tory George Canning as Foreign Secretary. A British expedition against the Turks in the Dardanelle Strait had failed in February, and the British invasion of Egypt occupied Alexandria on 18 March, but they suffered a thousand casualties at El Hamed in April and evacuated Alexandria on 25 September.
      Grenville’s government had provided £10,000 a year for Louis XVIII and £4,000 for his brother Charles, and the secret payments to the French émigrés multiplied from £19,325 in 1805 to £100,849 in 1806, but they had little effect other than enriching them. In October 1807 the British gave Louis and Charles refuge, but Louis was called Count Lille.
      The British had been confiscating cargo on American ships if they were going to an enemy port, and they impressed sailors they believed were British subjects. On 22 June the HMS Leopard attacked the USS Chesapeake that refused to be boarded, and they killed six American sailors. President Jefferson wanted to avoid war, but the bill passed on 22 December restricting American foreign trade was unpopular as the exports of the United States dropped off from $108 million in 1807 to $22 million in 1808.
      To keep Denmark from allying with France and Russia the British sent an armada of 63 warships and 25,000 troops on 377 transports to besiege Copenhagen on 16 August. After shelling killed 3,000 soldiers and 195 civilians, the Danes capitulated on 5 September. The British had only 42 men killed.
      In March 1808 George III refused to approve the Reversion Bill to reduce the corrupt buying of sinecures by members of Parliament. Perceval was accused of using the Treasury to influence elections, and a motion of censure was brought against Castlereagh. In a treaty on 30 March the British agreed to increase their annual subsidy to Sicily’s Ferdinando IV to £400,000.
      On 12 August 1807 the French and Spanish ambassadors in Lisbon had demanded that Portugal break off trade and diplomatic relations with Britain, arrest the British, confiscate their property, and declare war on Britain. Portugal’s Prince Regent Joao VI agreed to sever relations with Britain, but he refused to go to war. On 18 October Napoleon ordered a French army of 25,000 men to march through Spain to Lisbon. Four days later Foreign Secretary Canning and Portugal’s ambassador Pedro de Souza signed an agreement in which the British would defend Portugal from invasion, and on the 27th France and Spain agreed to conquer and divide Portugal. Admiral Sidney Smith sailed a squadron of nine ships to Lisbon where Prince Joao and several hundred Portuguese with the royal treasure departed in the English ships on 29 November for Rio de Janeiro. British merchants were allowed to trade with Portugal and its colonies.
      The British made agreements with the regional juntas of Spain distributing £500,000 to Galicia, £200,000 to Asturias, £200,000 to Seville, £100,000 to Leon, and £100,000 to Cadiz. They also sent 120,000 muskets, millions of cartridges, and other weapons. The squadron of Admiral John Purvis was blockading Cadiz, and they helped Spanish officials capture the French Admiral François Rosily and his five ships on 14 June 1808. On 7 August the British rescued General Pedro Romana and 20,000 soldiers from the island of Langeland and took them to Santander to fight the French. Arthur Wellesley was given command of the 15,663 British forces that were joined by the Portuguese army at Montego Bay in August. On the 15th they forced a much smaller French force led by General Laborde to retreat from Obidos to Rolica where two days later Wellesley’s army scattered them. On the 21st Marshal Junot’s French army of 13,000 attacked the British and suffered 2,000 casualties compared to 720 British. The generals Dalrymple and Burrard overruled Wellesley’s desire to march on Lisbon and made a truce with Junot. In the Convention of Cintra on 31 August the French gave up Portugal, but Junot persuaded Dalrymple to let the French army leave with their arms on the British ships. This was severely criticized in England, but a board of inquiry acquitted the general and approved the armistice and the convention.
      On 8 February 1808 British envoys had agreed to give Sweden £100,000 a month starting in the spring for their fleet and army, and King Gustav IV promised to fight the French. General John Moore with 10,864 soldiers on hundreds of transports reached Stockholm in May. Moore and Gustav quarreled over strategy, and Moore was ordered to sail to Lisbon and march into Spain. He had 21,000 troops at Salamanca, and General David Baird had 12,000 at Coruna. As Moore’s army marched 250 miles in December and January to Coruna 3,000 of his men died from exertion, cold, and hunger, and 500 were left in hospitals. In the battle at Coruna on 16 January 1809 each side had about 16,000 men, but the French had 3,200 cavalry which the British lacked. The British lost 1,200 men and the French led by Marshal Soult about 650, but the British took some 250 prisoners. The British had signed a treaty of friendship with Spain on 14 January.
      In early 1809 Gustav IV threatened to join France’s Continental System if Britain did not give him £300,000 immediately, and on 1 March they agreed to do so but promised no more than £1,200,000 for the next year. On the 13th Karl XIII replaced Gustav in a coup. On 24 April the British agreed to sell up to £4 million in Exchequer bills at 5% in Vienna for Austria’s treasury. On 21 June Britain sent an armada of 252 warships and 400 transports led by Admiral Strachan and General John Pitt to capture Antwerp by occupying the islands of Walcheren and South Beveland by the Scheldt River. On Walcheren they besieged Flushing on 1 August, and two weeks later 5,800 French troops capitulated. In the next three months 14,000 British suffered from malaria, and 4,000 died; only 106 had died in battle. The British departed gradually from 4 November to 9 December.
      On 15 February 1809 General William Beresford was given command in Portugal; but on 7 March Wellesley presented a plan to drive the French from Spain, and he was put in charge a month later. Regent Joao made him Portugal’s supreme general on 27 July. That month the British set up an Aid Office in Lisbon to subsidize Portugal’s Regency Council and Spain’s Supreme Junta. Aid to Portugal that year was worth £270,538, but Spain got £465,667 in cash, £2,174,097 in treasury bills, plus 155 cannons, 200,000 muskets, and 90,000 uniforms.
      Wellesley had an army of 39,000 men, and on 11 May they overwhelmed the French guard at Grijon. The next day his cannons bombarded Soult’s 20,000 troops at Oporto and then attacked, killing 300 French and taking 1,500 prisoners while only 23 British were killed with two missing. As Soult retreated, the British captured a thousand stragglers. During the summer the French had 250,000 troops in Spain. On 27 July a French army of 46,138 men met 20,641 British and 34,800 Spaniards by the Tagus River. The battle of Talavera lasted two days, and each side suffered more than 7,000 casualties. Wellesley complained that the Spaniards lacked discipline, but Parliament made him “Viscount Wellington of Talavera.”
      Meanwhile the Royal Navy with 83 warships and 18,053 troops in the West Indies forced French Guiana to surrender on 14 January 1809. Martinique had about 5,000 French troops; but the garrison surrendered in February, and the British took over the island. A year later they occupied Guadeloupe, followed by St. Eustatius and St. Martens. In July a force of 166 sailors took over the French Fort St. Louis at the mouth of the Senegal River. In the Indian Ocean the British captured the islands of Mauritius, Ile de Bourbon, and Ile de France, and in southeast Asia they took Java and Sumatra from the Dutch. In 1809 the British Navy had 141,989 men, 108 ships of the line, 150 frigates, and 424 smaller warships. Their army had 234,177 troops.
      On 11 August 1809 Prime Minister Portland suffered a debilitating stroke. He was replaced by Spencer Percival on 4 October and died on the 30th. Canning and Castlereagh quarreled and fought a duel on 21 September, and Canning was shot in the thigh. The Continental blockade affected the stock exchange, and a record 192 bankruptcies occurred in July 1810, a record broken by 239 in January 1811.

Britain and War 1811-15

      Wellington observed that Spaniards were easily inflamed into violence, and they greatly increased the use of guerrilla warfare against the French and committed many atrocities. In 1810 the British multiplied their subsidy to Portugal by four to £1 million in cash, bonds, and provisions that included 51,200 muskets, 7.5 million cartridges, 30,000 uniforms, knapsacks, and shoes. They gave Cadiz £445,000 which was less than the previous year, and regional councils got £291,991. Yet the total for both countries doubled from 1809 to 1810. By February 1811 Britain had given to Spain 342 cannons, 128,040 cannonballs, 222,141 muskets, and 43,358,455 cartridges. Wellington’s army increased from 31,000 troops in January 1810 to 51,000 in September, but by then 9,405 men were sick in hospitals. Half this army was Portuguese soldiers, and on 25 September they had the high ground on the Sierra do Bussaco and killed 515 French, wounding 3,800, and taking 300 prisoners while suffering 200 killed, 1,000 wounded, and 50 missing.
      The Luddite movement began in Nottinghamshire in March 1811. Said to be directed by Ned Ludd from Sherwood Forest they wanted new stocking frames replaced because they produced shoddy products and ruined the market. Textile workers destroyed a thousand frames and the shoddy stockings, checking the “cut-up” trade and temporarily raising wages. The Government used spies in West Houghton where the factory was burned down on 24 April 1812. Luddism spread to West Riding in Yorkshire where 17 men were hanged, and one was transported for life. Six men got seven years for administering oaths to spies. In March 1813 Luddites in Lancashire broke power-looms. The army was called in and battled the Luddites who began food riots at Burton’s Mill in Middleton and West Houghton Mill in Lancashire where four workers including a woman were sentenced to death for forcing dealers to sell food at a lower price. Burton killed five Luddites and had his house burned down. Fifteen men and boys were sentenced to seven years’ transportation. In 1813 workers in Nottinghamshire formed a union with 2,390 members, but in 1814 an illegal combination of employers broke it up but were not prosecuted. The movement continued until Heathcote’s lacemaking machine in Loughborough was destroyed in 1816.
      The slow death of his daughter Amelia pushed George III into a deep depression and his madness that persisted this time. A regency bill passed on 5 February 1811, and Prince George became Regent. George III would no longer rule, and he died on 20 January 1820.
      Britain’s economy suffered in 1811 as its exports to northern Europe dropped by 80% in one year. Their total exports had increased to £61 million in 1810; they fell to £39.5 million in 1811, but they went back up to £50 million in 1812. In 1811 a House of Commons committee agreed with a report by economist David Ricardo that problems were caused by an inflationary banking policy. Gold payments to Europe had increased from 6 million pounds in 1808 to 9 million in 1809 and to 14 million in 1810. In 1811 in Birmingham 9,000 people were on relief, and manufacturers were overloaded with stock.
      General Thomas Graham led an allied attack against the French siege of Cadiz on 5 March 1811, and the French lost more men, forcing them to withdraw. In the previous ten months the French lost more than 25,000 men to combat, disease, and starvation to Wellington’s 4,000. In early May at Fuentes de Oro a French army led by Marshal André Masséna with 42,000 infantry and 4,500 cavalry fought for three days Wellington’s force of 34,000 foot-soldiers and 1,850 horsemen, and the French lost about a thousand more men. On 16 May at Albuera the 35,284 allies led by General Beresford battled 24,260 French led by Soult, and each side lost about 7,000 men. Wellington’s army besieged Ciudad Rodrigo on 11 August. When General August de Marmont’s army of 58,000 men relieved the fortress in late September, the British withdrew. The Duke of Portland’s son William Bentinck had been sent to Palermo in July. In November he sent 4,500 troops to reinforce the British at Alicante, and in December he persuaded Ferdinando IV to accept reforms and unite their forces under British command, release political prisoners, and adopt a constitution with a parliament.
      Wellington’s army besieged and captured Ciudad Rodrigo in January 1812. The merchant John Bellingham had his business ruined by the war, and on 11 May he shot Prime Minister Perceval in the heart. Robert Jenkinson, Earl of Liverpool, succeeded him, and he made Addington Home Secretary. Castlereagh continued as Foreign Secretary.
      Wellington’s men overwhelmed Badajoz on 5 April, and he uncharacteristically allowed them to loot, burn, rape, and murder for three days. After Marmont’s army of 30,000 troops retreated from Salamanca, Wellington’s army of 49,500 took over the city on 17 June. While Marmont’s men were strung out marching on 22 July, Wellington’s force killed or captured 13,000 while the allies lost 5,173 men. Parliament promoted Wellington to a marquess and awarded him £100,000. His army was down to 40,000 when they occupied Madrid on 12 August while France still had more than 260,000 soldiers in Spain. British and Sicilian reinforcements helped increased Wellington’s army at Madrid to 72,000 troops. On 1 September he left 18,000 troops in Madrid and led 35,000 allies who surrounded Burgos on 19 September. As General Souham approached with 50,000 French, Wellington withdrew his army on 22 October. They marched to Salamanca where an army of 30,000 British, 25,000 Spaniards, and 20,000 Portuguese gathered.
      Castlereagh had persuaded the cabinet to increase the cash subsidy to Spain to £1 million in 1812 and to £1.2 million in 1813. On 25 September 1812 the Cortes had named Wellington generalissimo. Not all the Spanish generals followed his commands, and Francisco Balleteros was arrested for refusing. Castlereagh tried to negotiate peace on the Iberian peninsula, but Napoleon insisted that his brother Joseph should remain as King of Spain. Castlereagh also offered Sweden £500,000 in war support, and Prince Bernadotte accepted and asked for more.
      After having more than 900 ships seized by the British and issuing 6,257 formal protests for Americans impressed into the Royal Navy, the United States finally declared war against Britain on 18 June 1812. Castlereagh argued that no administration could remain in power if they suspended the practice of impressing sailors. Although the British dominated the seas, they lost some battles to the Americans. Land forces were about equal. Peace talks began on 8 August 1814; but that month the British invaded Maryland and burned the White House and the Capitol building. Wellington advised that the British had no right to take any territory from America, and on 18 November they agreed on peace. On 24 December they signed a peace treaty at Ghent that released prisoners and returned territory taken in the war, and Prince Regent George approved it four days later.
      In July 1812 Britain sent Earl William of Cathcart with £500,000 to Tsar Alexander for Russia’s war against France. On 3 March 1813 Britain paid Sweden £1 million for 30,000 soldiers, and later in the year Castlereagh arranged for 50,000 British muskets, 54 cannons, and munitions to be sent to Russia. Britain also sent to Portugal £2.3 million in 1812 and £2.5 million in 1813. On 2 September 1813 the British promised to support a Sicilian division of 7,314 men. On 3 October Britain made a treaty with Metternich agreeing to provide £1 million for 150,000 Austrian troops. In 1813 Britain provided a total of £11 million for its allies that also included £3,666,666 for Russia, £1,333,332 for Prussia, £2,200,000 for Sweden, £1 million for Spain, and £400,000 for Sicily. They also sent more than a million muskets.
      In May 1813 Wellington’s army of 52,000 British and 29,000 Portuguese left Portugal and entered Spain. They forced King Joseph to withdraw from Salamanca and retreat along his supply lines. On 21 June the allied army of 82,000 that included 8,000 Spanish defeated about 60,000 French at Vitoria. Both sides suffered more than 5,000 casualties, but the allies captured 2,829 French and 151 cannons. An allied army led by General Thomas Graham besieged San Sebastian on 28 June and assaulted it by force on 25 July, losing over 600 men before resuming bombardment. Marshal Soult’s army of 65,000 French relieved Pamplona, but Wellington’s army defeated them at Sorauren by the end of July, killing and wounding 13,500 French while suffering 7,000 casualties. On 31 August Graham’s forces finally captured San Sebastian; but each side had about 850 men killed as 2,530 French soldiers were captured. On 25 June allied troops had surrounded Pamplona, and the garrison surrendered on 31 October. On 10 November Wellington’s army of 82,000 defeated Soult’s 62,000 by the Nivelle River and then again by the Nive River on 13 December.
      The British helped Prince William of Orange return to the Netherlands as stadtholder. British troops besieged Antwerp from 14 January 1814 until May. On 29 January the British, Russians, Prussians, and Austrians had signed the Langres Protocol agreeing to limit France to its ancient borders rather than its natural boundaries at a postwar conference in Vienna. In February more than 250,000 Russian, Prussian, and Austrian troops were invading eastern France while Wellington’s army of 80,000 was approaching from the southwest. He avoided trouble by retaining only 4,000 of his best Spanish troops. A British force of 30,000 led by General John Hope besieged Bayonne on 24 February, and three days later Wellington’s army defeated Soult’s 36,000 men at Orthez. On 9 March at Chaumont the four powers agreed to contribute 150,000 troops each to win the war and then to maintain a defensive alliance in which each nation would send 60,000 troops to whichever country was attacked, though the British would be allowed to pay £1.3 million in lieu of providing soldiers. A Bourbon insurrection drove imperial troops out of Bordeaux, and they welcomed the British on 12 March. On 10 April the British army of 49,000 led by Wellington fought Soult’s 42,000 again at Toulouse, but this time British casualties were twice as high as France’s. They had not known that Napoleon had abdicated in 6 April.
      On 30 May 1814 the allies signed a treaty in Paris that ceded former French territories to various nations reducing France to its borders back in 1792. The British received the islands of Tobago, St. Lucia, and Mauritius (Île de France). Tsar Alexander and his sister Ekaterina visited London, and she got drunk and persuaded Princess Charlotte not to wed Willem of Orange. Castlereagh met with Metternich when he was visiting London in June. Then Castlereagh talked to Talleyrand at Paris in August. He led the British delegation of 19 that reached Vienna on 13 September for the European congress. He claimed that the British were the only delegation that was not penetrated by the Austrian secret service. In November the Council of Four (Britain, Prussia, Austria, and Russia) began meeting. The Council of Eight also included France, Spain, Portugal, and Sweden, and they postponed the opening of the congress for several months. Prime Minister Liverpool warned Castlereagh not to go to war over any issue at Vienna.
      On 3 January 1815 Castlereagh, Metternich, and Talleyrand signed a defensive alliance for Britain, Austria, and France, and six days later Tsar Alexander and Friedrich Wilhelm accepted France as an equal partner in a Council of Five. Wellington relieved Castlereagh on 3 February, and five days later he persuaded the Five to condemn the slave trade. Britain would retain the Cape of Good Hope and Guiana.
      News that Napoleon had escaped from Elba reached London on 10 March. He won over French troops and was restored to power in Paris on the 20th. On the 13th the Council of Eight at Vienna had pronounced him an international criminal. On the 25th the four powers renewed their treaty to provide 150,000 troops each against France. Britain offered £14 million for about one million troops to defeat Napoleon. British troops were already in the Netherlands, and on the 29th Wellington took command in Brussels. The four powers agreed to let France determine its own political future, and the Council of Eight at Vienna accepted this on 12 May. On 9 June the Congress of Vienna agreed on a treaty with 121 articles.
      Dutch King Willem had authorized Wellington to command the Dutch forces on 3 May with his son Willem as deputy commander. This gave Wellington an army of 93,000 troops, and Prussia’s Blucher led 117,000 allies while Napoleon had only 125,000 French. Wellington’s army defeated the French on 16 June at Quatre Bra, though Napoleon’s force damaged Blucher’s. Wellington’s army of 25,000 British and 42,000 Dutch and German troops camped near Waterloo village on the 17th. Napoleon’s army had 7,000 more men and 90 more cannons. They attacked on the 18th but lost 43,656 men while the allied losses were 24,143. In four days each side had lost a little more than 62,000 men. Napoleon retreated to Paris where he discovered that Police Minister Fouché had taken over. Bonaparte abdicated again and fled to Rochefort. France signed an armistice, and Napoleon surrendered to Captain Frederick Maitland who took him to England on 24 July. The former emperor pleaded,

I … throw myself upon the hospitality of the British people.
I put myself under the protection of their laws,
which I claim from your Royal Highness, as the most powerful,
the most constant, and the most generous of my enemies.1

On 2 August Castlereagh persuaded the allies to designate Napoleon a prisoner in British custody for the remainder of his life, and he was shipped the small island of St. Helena in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The final treaty ending the Napoleonic Wars was signed on 20 November, and France was required to pay a large indemnity.
      During the French war from 1793 to 1815 the British Empire increased its colonies from 26 to 43 including the conquests of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Sierra Leone, and Gambia. The British economy was the most industrialized and diversified in the world, and it more than doubled from £153,920,000 in 1791 to £358,980,000 in 1821. British exports went from £20,390,000 in 1793 to £68,400,000 in 1815. This 22-year global war cost the British £1,657,854,518 with the military budget expanding from £19,623,000 to £177,587,979. Their contributions for the war effort in more than thirty states at £65,830,228 was less than 4% of the total expenses. British taxes during the war were about 35% of the economy. The national debt more than tripled from £243 million in 1793 to £745 million in 1815. The number of troops deployed by the East India Company increased from 90,000 to 250,000 including 31,000 Europeans. During the years 1812-14 Britain had an army of 250,000 men compared to France’s 600,000, Russia’s 500,000, Prussia’s 270,000, and Austria’s 250,000. Between 1793 and 1801 diseases in the West Indies killed 43,747 of the 90,000 British soldiers and 24,000 of the 100,000 sailors. During those years British merchant ships increased from 15,000 to 18,000 while the French vessels dropped from 2,000 to about a hundred. In 1815 the British Navy had 214 ships of the line, and France had 80, Russia 40, Spain 25, and the Netherlands none. Between 1790 and 1820 the Parliament lost 19 members to suicide, and 20 went insane.

Bentham’s Utilitarian Ethics

      Jeremy Bentham was born on 15 February 1748 in London. He was the son of an attorney, and by the age of four he was reading and beginning to study Latin grammar. He played violin, went to Westminster School, and earned a degree at Oxford in 1763. To his father’s chagrin Jeremy never practiced law or traditional politics. Instead he wrote about twenty million words, half of them unpublished, and he developed his own legal philosophy, encouraged social reform, and worked on codifying laws. He hoped to do for society and legislation what Newton had done for physics.
      Bentham got the ethical idea of utility from David Hume. In 1764 Cesare Beccaria had written in On Crimes and Punishments about “the greatest happiness divided among the greatest possible number.” In 1768 Bentham’s friend Joseph Priestley wrote about “the greatest good of the greatest number” in his Essay on Government. Bentham published his anonymous Fragment on Government criticizing Blackstone’ Commentaries in 1776, and in 1781 it gained him the friendship of Lord Shelburne who became Prime Minister the next year and introduced him to Etienne Dumont. In 1787 Bentham’s Defence of Usury earned him respect, and his most famous work, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, which had circulated among his friends since 1780, was published in 1789. He based his practical utilitarian philosophy on “the greatest happiness.”
      Bentham began An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation with the first chapter on the “principle of utility” by writing,

Nature has placed mankind under the governance
of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure.
It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do,
as well as to determine what we shall do.
On the one hand the standard of right and wrong,
on the other the chain of causes and effects,
are fastened to their throne….
By utility is meant that property in any object whereby it tends
to produce benefit, advantage, pleasure, good, or happiness,
or to prevent the happening of mischief, pain, evil,
or unhappiness to the party whose interest is considered:
if that party be the community in general,
then the happiness of the community:
if a particular individual, then the happiness of the individual.2

Bentham believed that everything opposed to utility is wrong. He described four sanctions that regulate morality. The physical is based on pleasure and pain. The political is how justice is dispensed. The moral comes from public opinion, and the religious is based on a superior but invisible being. He distinguished expositional jurisprudence which explains what the law is from censorial jurisprudence which says what the law should be to conform to human nature. Rational action is conceiving a desired end, and understanding is the best way to attain it.
      By means of this “hedonic calculus” Bentham attempted to measure the positive and negative consequences of any decision. He went beyond a simple hedonism by describing seven dimensions of the pleasure or pain to bring a qualitative evaluation into the measuring. Thus one must consider the intensity, duration, certainty, and nearness of the pleasure or pain. In addition the results of the pleasure or pain can be estimated in terms of fertility and purity. Fertility means whether there will be pleasures or pains later, and purity whether pleasures or pains are likely to be followed by their opposites. Finally one must consider the extent in terms of how many people may be affected. He classified pleasures related to senses, wealth, skill, amity, reputation, power, piety, memory, imagination, expectation, association, and relief, and pains are related to the opposites. Because happiness is experiencing more pleasure and less pain, the individual is the best judge of one’s own happiness.
      Moral sensibility is based on many factors. Actions come from intention which depends on will, consciousness, motive, and disposition. Intention considers the act and its consequences. Motives relate to pleasures and pains. He explored cases that do not merit nor need punishment, and penalties should be in proportion to the offense. He used these principles in deciding on the appropriate punishments for various crimes. In a long chapter Bentham classified offenses.
      In regard to ethics a person has a duty to oneself and to others using prudence, probity (integrity), and beneficence (kindness). The objectives of government are subsistence, wealth, security, and equality. The purpose of civil law is to distribute rights justly, and penal law punishes violations. In prison reform he sought to improve morals, preserve health, invigorate industry, and spread instruction. Unlike Kant who emphasized good intention, the Utilitarians emphasized the consequences of one’s actions.
      In 1791 Bentham published a plan for a model prison in his Panopticon and offered it to the French National Assembly. In 1792 he was made a French citizen, and he advised that new government as well as that of the United States of America. In 1802 Bentham became disillusioned with politics and politicians because they failed to promote the greatest happiness of the people. That year Dumont published Traités de legislation de M. Jérémie Bentham.                                                           
      He influenced thinkers who were called “Benthamites.” James Mill convinced Bentham to leave the Tory party and become a radical. He persuaded him that political as well as legal reforms would lead to economic and social progress. Other Benthamites included Francis Place who developed methods of political action, David Ricardo who clarified classical political economy, John Austin who excelled at analytical jurisprudence, young historian George Grote, Henry Brougham who founded the Edinburgh Review in 1802, political reformer Francis Burdett, physician and politician Joseph Hume, and legal reformer Samuel Romilly. Mill and the younger Benthamites were called the “philosophical radicals.” Mill published some of Bentham’s works in 1812.
      Bentham wrote his Catechism of Parliamentary Reform in 1809 criticizing the established Church and circulated it privately. He also criticized the apostle Paul as a fanatical cleric in Not Paul but Jesus and religion itself in his Analysis of the Influence of Natural Religion. He considered the democratic interest universal, and advocated annual parliaments, equal electoral districts, reports of all speeches in Parliament, and compulsory attendance by members. This Catechism and his Papers upon Codification and Public Instruction came out in 1817. The next year he began advocating universal suffrage, and he wrote 26 resolutions that Francis Burdett presented in the House of Commons on 2 June. In 1818 he published his Radical Reform Bill with Explanations and in 1823 his Leading Principles of a Constitutional Code. That year Dumont published some papers by Bentham in French as Traité des preuves judiciaries and an English translation in 1825. That year Hazlitt noted that Bentham was better known in Europe and in colonies than in England.
      Bentham founded the Westminster Review in 1824, and its writers included James Mill, his son John Stuart Mill, George Grote, and John Bowring. In 1827 James Mill published five volumes of Bentham’s papers as Rationale of Judicial Evidence. Bentham was one of the first to recognize animal rights. Benthamites were involved in founding University College in London in 1826. He wrote the essay “Offences Against One’s Self” arguing that homosexuality is not unnatural, and he advocated liberalizing laws prohibiting homosexual acts; but it was not published until 1931. Bentham died on 6 June 1832, and he donated his body to medical science. His Deontology or Science of Morality was published two years later.
      Bentham wrote his essay “A Plan for a Universal and Perpetual Peace” in 1789, but it was not published until 1833 in The Principles of International Law. He declared that the whole world is his domain and that the press is his only tool. Everyone suffers from war, and the wise consider it the chief cause of suffering. Bentham’s plan has two main propositions—to reduce military forces in Europe and to emancipate colonies. He emphasized the importance of a peace proposal, even if the world is not ready for it, because in that case there is a great need for ideas on peace. He asked for the prayers of Christians, and for the welfare of all civilized nations he had three goals—“simplicity of government, national frugality, and peace.”
      Bentham proposed that it is not in the interest of Great Britain or France to have colonies, alliances, nor a large navy. Perpetual treaties ought to limit troops and establish a common court of judicature to decide differences. However, Bentham was clearly pacifistic in stipulating that the court not be armed with coercive powers. As he stated later on, he relied upon the power of public opinion. For this reason he was especially perturbed by the secrecy of British foreign affairs, such that he had to read the Leyden Gazette to get any news about British diplomacy, as there was none in the home press. Therefore he argued strongly against secrecy in international relations. He also complained that newspapers always took the side of their own nation. “It is that we are always in the right, without a possibility of being otherwise. Against us other nations have no rights.”3
      Bentham argued that the colonies cause nothing but trouble for Britain and France and should be given up. This is in the interest of the mother country because of the danger of war, military expense, corruption by patronage, and complication of government. He cited Gibraltar and the East Indies specifically. It is also better for the colonies themselves to be self-governing. Neither are alliances in the interest of the British because they lead to wars. Also treaties that give advantage in trade are artificial economically and are not useful in the long run. The naval forces need only be strong enough to defend commerce against pirates. The pacification treaties, which are to limit the number of troops, are to be publicly announced. Bentham described the folly of attempting conquest and the madness of war. In modern times it is useless to the people. Bentham believed that trade is always advantageous to both parties, but war is ruinous.
      Establishing a judicial court is in the interest of all. Bentham recommended a Congress of deputies from each country that should be public in its proceedings. Its power is in reporting its decisions to public opinion. Here Bentham appeared to be excessively idealistic in comparison to Saint-Pierre and Rousseau, who felt the need for enforcement. Bentham naively believed that if secrecy were given up, the public would no longer support wars. He pointed to the example of the Swedish soldiers who refused to fight Russia. His pacifist ideas are not wrong, but they would depend upon enlightened public opinion. He declared that the plunging of a nation into war against its will by ministers is not only mischievous but unconstitutional. He pointed out that punishing the authors of war does little good for the people of the nation. Since the war-makers cannot be punished effectively, they ought to be abandoned by the people. However, Bentham considered this impractical in his time. In war individual crimes are greatly multiplied; yet they win the approval of people. Since ministers are not deterred from misconduct, they are easily seduced by ambition and greed into wars, especially when shielded by secrecy.
      Bentham’s plan is quite sketchy and obviously not comprehensive, but he did show the usefulness of disarmament and the dangers of colonialism and secrecy. He sensed the power of public opinion but also saw how effectively it was squelched in his time. Unlike Saint-Pierre and Rousseau he did not really present the executive and legislative powers for a federal system, but he did establish the principles of an international judiciary and open public opinion on international affairs.

Malthus, Ricardo and James Mill

      Robert Malthus (1766-1834) was born on 13 February 1766 and was educated at home by his father who was influenced by Rousseau, Condorcet, and Godwin. In 1784 he went to Cambridge University and excelled in Latin and Greek, and he earned degrees in 1788 and 1791. He was elected a fellow of Jesus College in 1793. He took holy orders in 1797 and became a curate in Surrey.
      In 1798 Malthus published anonymously his famous Essay on the Principle of Population, as it affects the future improvement of society with remarks on the speculations of Mr. Godwin, M. Condorcet, and other writers. In the first chapter he presented two postulates that food is a human necessity and that the sexual passion is necessary and will persist. Next he noted that the growth of human population increases geometrically by multiplying while the production of food expands only arithmetically by adding; but for human survival these need to grow equally. He observed that in the United States of America with ample land the population had doubled in the last 25 years. If this occurred for five generations, it would multiply by 16 while food production might only increase by 5 times.
      Although Malthus recognized, as did Adam Smith, that “the rich by unfair combinations contribute frequently to prolong a season of distress among the poor,” he nonetheless predicted that the lack of food would result in a drastic reduction of an expanded population by the miseries of famine, disease, and war. He noted the economic restraints on marrying and starting a family, and he was concerned that these also caused the vices of sexual immorality. Thus he considered birth control a vice. He found that more people would cause inflation in prices while wages remained low.

The number of labourers also being
above the proportion of the work in the market,
the price of labour must tend toward a decrease;
while the price of provisions would at the same time
tend to rise.4

The value of land also rises making rent higher for the workers who compete for low wages. Unemployment increases dramatically, and in Britain in 1818 about 1.5 million would register for parish relief. Malthus did not foresee advances in technology that would increase production nor better ways of preventing reproduction nor the progressive visions of socialists and others for equalizing economic benefits. Yet in a capitalistic world great portions of poor people are still involved in the “struggle for existence” that he did predict and which influenced Darwin.
      Prime Minister Pitt was so influenced by the Malthusian argument that the Poor Laws tended to increase the population of the poor without adding to the means for their support that he opposed a new Poor Law. In 1800 Malthus published the pamphlet “The present high price of provisions.” His ideas stimulated debate on population, and the first comprehensive census of the population in Britain took place in 1801. He traveled to Germany, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Russia, France, and Switzerland to study economics. In 1803 he entitled his expanded second edition An Essay on the Principle of Population; or, a view of its past and present effects on human happiness; with an enquiry into our prospects respecting the future removal or mitigation of the evils which it occasions. In this work he accepted that moral restraint could help limit the growth of population. Four more editions in 1806, 1807, 1816, and 1826 had minor revisions.
      Malthus married in 1804, and this meant that he had to give up his fellowship. In 1805 he became the first Professor of Modern History and Political Economy at East India College in Hertfordshire where he spent the rest of his life. In 1811 he became a close friend of David Ricardo. Malthus also published his “Observations on the Effects of the Corn Laws” in 1814 to defend agricultural protection.
      Malthus wrote his Principles of Political Economy Considered with a View to Their Practical Application in 1820 in response to Ricardo’s Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. He advised that to increase wealth a nation needed to balance “the power to produce with the will to consume.” The enormous debt caused by the Napoleonic Wars led to austerity and unemployment in the postwar period. He concluded this work with a chapter “On the Progress of Wealth,” and in the last section he applied his principles to the distress of the working classes since 1815. He noted the extraordinary expenses in the last two years of the war which was followed by a “very unusual stagnation of effectual demand” and the destruction of capital in which both capitalists and laborers suffered. England and America were most affected because they had suffered the least from the war and were enriched. For the problem of depressions he called “gluts” he advised government spending on public works to create jobs for the working classes. He wrote,

The employment of the poor in roads and public works,
and a tendency among landlords and persons of property
to build, to improve and beautify their grounds,
and to employ workmen and menial servants,
are the means most within our power
and most directly calculated to remedy the evils arising from
that disturbance in the balance of produce and consumption,
which has been occasioned by the sudden conversion
of soldiers, sailors, and various other classes
which the war employed, into productive labourers.5

John Maynard Keynes, who developed this theory of public works to relieve a depression, wished that economists in the 19th century had followed this idea. Malthus concluded his book,

In prosperous times the mercantile classes
often realize fortunes,
which go far towards securing them against the future;
but unfortunately the working classes,
though they share in the general prosperity,
do not share in it so largely as in the general adversity.
They may suffer the greatest distress
in a period of low wages, but cannot be
adequately compensated by a period of high wages.
To them fluctuations must always bring more evil than good;
and, with a view to the happiness of the great mass of society,
it should be our object, as far as possible,
to maintain peace, and an equable expenditure.6

      David Ricardo was born in London on 18 April 1772 and was the third son of a Dutch Jew who became rich on the Stock Exchange. David began working with his father when he was 14, but seven years later he became a Unitarian and married a Quaker. His parents disowned him, but he prospered working for a banking house. In 1799 he read Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and began studying economics. In 1810 he advised the Government that its gold payments to Europe were causing inflation, and he published The High Price of Bullion, a Proof of the Depreciation of Bank Notes. He advised connecting the domestic money supply to the nation’s supply of gold, and this theory became the gold standard. He became friends with Malthus and James Mill.
      Ricardo made a million sterling tricking investors by selling British securities to make them think France won the battle at Waterloo and then after the panic buying back the securities. Also in 1815 he wrote his Essay on the Influence of a Low Price of Corn on the Profits of Stock. He noted that the high prices for wheat during the war had made landowners richer. The Corn Laws recently passed intended to protect British agriculture by banning the importation of foreign grain until the price of wheat stayed above 60 shillings. He opposed this protectionism because it increased rents and led to harvesting less productive land, directing profits to land-owners and away from industry. Thus he advocated repealing the Corn Laws so that more wealth would be distributed to productive people. In August 1818 he purchased a seat in the House of Commons for £4,000 and served as a liberal favoring free trade until his death in September 1823.
      Ricardo’s major work, On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, was published in 1817 and did much to systematize economics. He believed that the purpose of political economy is to understand the laws regulating the distribution of wealth to the classes and their relation to society. His preface begins,

The produce of the earth -- all that is derived from its surface
by the united application of labour, machinery, and capital
is divided among three classes of the community;
namely, the proprietor of the land,
the owner of the stock or capital necessary for its cultivation,
and the labourers by whose industry it is cultivated.
But in different stages of society,
the proportions of the whole produce of the earth
which will be allotted to each of these classes,
under the names of rent, profit, and wages,
will be essentially different;
depending mainly on the actual fertility of the soil,
on the accumulation of capital and population, and on the skill,
ingenuity, and instruments employed in agriculture.7

      Ricardo recognized that machines can increase production, but in the third edition of his Principles he came to believe that “the substitution of machinery for human labour, is often injurious to the interests of the class of labourers.” Although using machines may increase national revenue, they may deteriorate the condition of workers. Luddites had begun machine-smashing riots in 1811. He hoped that unemployment could be averted if technological advances were gradual. Yet falling profits can be checked by improvements in machinery and discoveries in scientific agriculture that lead to lower prices. Ricardo is known for his theory of “comparative advantage” which compares labor inputs in different countries. Two countries with differing economies can specialize to export what they do best. British manufacturers exported to pay for importing food. In the chapter on foreign trade he wrote,

If, therefore, by the extension of foreign trade,
or by improvements in machinery,
the food and necessaries of the labourer can be
brought to market at a reduced price, profits will rise.8

Ricardo ended his book writing that “value in use cannot be measured by any known standard; it is differently estimated by different persons.”

      James Mill was born on 6 April 1773 in the Scottish village of Montrose and went to the academy there. John Stuart supported his going to Edinburgh University where he excelled at Greek and studied moral philosophy under Dugald Stewart. In 1798 the Church of Scotland ordained him to preach, but in 1802 he abandoned the ministry. He had lived with the family of John Stuart, tutoring his daughter, and that year they moved to London. He saw too much evil in the world to believe in a God that is infinitely good. Mill wrote for periodicals. In 1806 he began working on his History of British India, and the multi-volume work was published in 1817. Mill met Bentham in 1808. They became close friends, and Mill’s family lived in a house owned by Bentham. Because Bentham was reclusive, Mill was the leader of the Benthamites. In “Commerce Defended” (1808) Mill argued for free trade, but he agreed with William Cobbett who warned that wars have occurred over and over for the sake of commerce. Mill urged a truce between France and Britain for the benefit of both, and he made this appeal:

In every country, therefore, where industry is free,
and where men are secure in the enjoyment
of what they acquire, the greatest improvement
which the government can possibly receive
is a steady and enlightened aversion to war.
While such a nation remains at peace,
the faults of the government can hardly ever be so great,
that the merits of the nation
will not more than compensate them, and that society
from its own beneficent tendency will not improve.
Nothing however can compensate the destruction of war.
The creative efforts of individuals can never equal its gigantic consumption, and the seeds of prosperity are eaten up.9

      From 1816 to 1823 for the supplement to the Encyclopaedia Britannica he wrote the articles “Jurisprudence,” “Liberty of the Press,” “Education,” “Economist,” “Benefit Societies,” “Colony,” “Prison Discipline,” “Beggar,” and “Government” which was published in 1820. This article presented utilitarian political theory of the greatest happiness. He described government as the greater number of men combining and delegating to a smaller group “the power necessary to protect them all.” He believed that less government is better because greater individual liberty provides greater happiness. Government to function effectively must give power to public officials. He rejected monarchy and aristocracy because the rulers pursue their own interests, and he considered democracy practically impossible. He recommended representative democracy through elections that allow voters to select representatives who will act for the good of the whole community if they want to be re-elected. Good government depends on the right constitution of checks to have the power to prevent bad actions.
      Mill explained the ideas of his friend Ricardo in the textbook Elements of Political Economy (1821). His 2-volume Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind came out in 1829 and described associationism as the process of integrating sense perceptions with ideas into a “cluster of ideas.” He also noted that humans can associate their own pleasures with those of others. His teaching his oldest son John Stuart Mill with the Socratic method is described by the latter in his Autobiography. In education he emphasized ethics and virtues as well as general knowledge and even diet. Although he agreed with Malthus about the problem of over-population, he raised nine children.

Ireland and Scotland 1800-30

      Alexander Knox (1757-1831) had corresponded with John Wesley as a young man and defended him against his critics. Knox’s Essays on the political circumstances of Ireland in 1799 argued for parliamentary union with Britain. The British plan for a union with Ireland was to allow 28 Irish peers and four Protestant bishops into the British House of Lords. Most of Ireland’s rotten boroughs would be paid off with £1,260,000, and the rest would be given one hundred seats in the House of Commons. The British secret service used £30,000 to buy votes, and on 22 January 1800 the Irish House of Commons passed the bill by one vote.
      The British Parliament approved the Act of Union in May 1800 that created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and it was implemented on 1 January 1801. The Bank of Ireland purchased the Irish Parliament building in Dublin for £400,000. The Church of Ireland was incorporated with the Church of England, and Ireland still had a Lord-lieutenant and the same laws. The Lord-lieutenant Cornwallis withdrew in May and was replaced by Philip York, Earl of Hardwicke, who favored Catholic emancipation and governed until March 1806. Trade between Ireland and Britain was unregulated except the bounty on Irish linen remained. Members of Parliament had to take the oath which excluded Catholics who would not take it, but they retained their right to vote. Catholics still had to pay the tithes for the Protestant clergy and maintained their own priests. King George III and his son as Regent refused to admit Catholics into the Parliament. The British garrison of 25,000 troops was kept in Ireland to keep order. After a peace treaty in June 1802 the military in Ireland, including troops, militia, and yeomanry, was reduced from 60,000 to less than 20,000. Ireland was to pay £2 of tax for every £15 paid by Britain for twenty years. After the union Ireland’s taxes went up 52%. In the next fifteen years the expenses of the Irish government tripled, and Ireland’s debt multiplied by two and half by 1817.
      Robert Emmet studied at Trinity College in Dublin and was secretary of the United Irish during the 1798 rebellion. A warrant was issued for his arrest, and he fled to France and asked for military aid for another rebellion. Denied, he returned to Ireland in October 1802. He worked with Thomas Russell and James Hope. An explosion in one of Emmet’s arms warehouses killed one man and exposed their preparations, and in the revolt the fuses for the grenades and landmines had not been prepared. In July 1803 he proclaimed “The Provisional Government to the People of Ireland” and hoped for 2,000 supporters, but only eighty showed up on the 23rd for the uprising on Thomas Street in Dublin. When Emmet saw a British dragoon taken from his horse and killed, he tried to end the revolt. The Chief Justice of Ireland was also murdered. Emmet fled and was captured on 25 August, and he was convicted of treason and executed on 20 September. Russell was hanged on 21 October, and 15 other workers were also hanged.
      Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847) became a barrister in 1798. He accused the British of using violence to bring about the Union, and he worked for Catholic emancipation and political reforms. He also opposed the violence of Emmet’s rebellion. In 1815 he insulted the Dublin Corporation by calling it “beggarly,” and he mortally wounded the duelist John D’Esterre and offered compensation to the widow. In 1821-22 the potato crop failed in Munster and Connaught. In May 1824 O’Connell founded the Catholic Association. Members had to pay one guinea a year, but the next year he expanded it by accepting those who paid a shilling a year as associate members, bringing in £1,000 a week from 250,000 poor Catholics. In 1824 the poet Thomas Moore (1779-1852) published his Memoirs of Captain Rock as an address to England to appeal to the middle class.
      The Association was banned in March 1825, but four months later O’Connell made it a public and private charity to promote public peace and “private harmony between all classes” for “purposes not prohibited by law.” Public opinion was changed enough to bring about the dismissal of the Attorney General William Saurin, a religious bigot. Also in 1825 tariff barriers between England and Ireland were removed. In 1828 the Association proved the discrimination against Catholics by reporting that of 1,314 offices in the administration of justice only 39 were held by Catholics, and of 3,033 other offices Catholics had only 134 positions. That year O’Connell was elected to Parliament by County Clare. In early 1829 the Catholic Emancipation Act allowed Catholics to be judges and military officers as well as members of Parliament. A general Oath of Allegiance was more acceptable to Catholics, but the property qualification for voting was raised to £10, reducing the number of Irish Catholic voters from 1,160,000 to 86,000. The Catholic Association disbanded, but O’Connell was re-elected by Clare.

      The population of Scotland increased rapidly from 1,608,420 in 1801 to 2,091,000 in 1821 while Edinburgh grew from 81,600 to 138,000. Glasgow went from 83,700 to 193,000 in 1831.
      In 1799 the colliers in Scotland were emancipated. Food riots broke out around Glasgow and Edinburgh in February 1800. Scotland was allowed to form militia in 1802. Good education was available in Scotland for those who could afford to pay. Alexander Christison taught at Edinburgh High School and published The General Diffusion of Knowledge One Great Cause of the Prosperity of North Britain in 1802. That year Henry Erskine, Francis Jeffrey, and the professors Dugald Stewart and John Playfair organized a campaign for reform, and in October Jeffrey, Sydney Smith, Henry Brougham, and Francis Horner began publishing the liberal Edinburgh Review. Stewart taught moral philosophy at the University of Edinburgh from 1785 to 1811, and he also lectured on political economy. In 1803 schoolmasters were provided with modest houses and stipends. After Pitt’s death in February 1806 Erskine was appointed Lord Advocate.
      During the Napoleonic War the price of kelp made from seaweed rose as it was used to manufacture glass, soap, and alum. During the early 1800s Hebrideans exported annually more than 15,000 tons of kelp. The rising price of wool led to the clearing of land for more sheep. Sheep farmers expanded because they could pay three times the old rent. William Symington invented a working steamship by 1803. In 1807 people were evicted in Sutherland by the Marquess of Stafford’s superintendent, and more Sutherland clearances forced people out of Strathnaver in 1814. Also in 1807 Archibald Buchanan made the Deanston mills the first integrated cotton mills that powered the washing, scutching, spinning, and weaving. The Scots had begun building more roads in the highlands in 1803, and by 1821 they added 900 miles of roads, improved 300 miles, and built 1,100 bridges.
      Late in 1808 Jeffry wrote in The Edinburgh, “Reforms in the administration of our affairs must be adopted to prevent more violent changes.” By 1813 this newspaper had a circulation of 12,000, and in 1816 the London Times had only 8,000. Walter Scott helped its rival the conservative Quarterly Review begin publishing in March 1809. Economic hardship in 1811 led to weavers forming unions in Glasgow, Paisley, and Perth in Scotland and in Manchester, Bolton, Preston, and Carlisle in northern England as well as Belfast in Ireland. The Manchester Weavers’ Committee affiliated with agitators in the southwest. In the great strike of 1812 weavers left work in Glasgow and from Aberdeen to Carlisle for nine weeks demanding their table of prices. English Luddites tried to get the weavers to break machines, but their strikes remained nonviolent.
      The Habeas Corpus Act was suspended in 1817, and a new law outlawed sedition. Jeffrey was the defense attorney in two cases. Neil Douglas in a sermon compared George III to the corrupt Nebuchadnezzar, and he said that seats in the House of Commons “were sold like bullocks in a market.” He was tried for sedition on 26 May; but the prosecution was inept, and Jeffrey got him acquitted. On 19 July Andrew McKinlay was tried for administering unlawful oaths. A weaver testifying for the prosecution admitted that he was offered a reward to be a witness, and McKinlay was also found not guilty. The Luddite Jeremiah Brandreth led an uprising at Pentrich in Derbyshire in June; 35 were tried for high treason, and 23 were convicted. Eleven were transported for life, and he and two others were beheaded on 7 November. Also in 1817 the newspaper The Scotsman was founded and backed reforms, and in response Blackwood’s Magazine began and favored the Tories.
      Leaders in Glasgow were arrested in February 1820. A Committee of Organization called for a general strike and forming a Provisional Government in Scotland on 1 April, and about 50,000 weavers and others responded. The next day bills were posted urging people to support a provisional government, and cavalry forced Calton weavers to disperse near Falkirk. On the 5th about forty weavers marched on the Carron Iron Works to get arms, and troops dispersed them and arrested 18 radicals. A commission tried 47 people for treason, and 24 were sentenced to death; but only three were hanged. In June 1823 about 3,000 people demolished two stone walls on the Westhorn estate.
      Joseph Hume was a radical member of Parliament from Montrose, and he and Francis Place led the effort that repealed the Combination Acts in 1824. In the next two years miners in the coalfields of Scotland rose up, and in 1825 the Parliament revised the Repeal of the Combination Acts. In 1823 James Smith of Deanston’s subsoil plough also greatly improved agriculture, and in 1828 Patrick Bell invented a power-driven threshing-machine for reaping.

Britain under the Tories 1815-19

      The Tory Party maintained a majority in Parliament from 1815 to 1830, and Robert Banks Jenkinson known as Lord Liverpool was Prime Minister from 1812 to 1827. He was widely respected for his integrity and tolerance for differing views. His character was a contrast to the profligacy of the Prince Regent George. The Duke of Wellington called George and his brothers a “millstone about the neck of any Government.” The famous general was made Commander-in-Chief of the army occupying France in October 1815.
      Britain’s population went from 12 million in 1811 to 16.5 million in 1831. London’s population had nearly reached a million by 1800, and by 1815 it was the largest city in the world and its banking center. Liverpool increased from 82,000 in 1801 to 202,000 in 1831, Leeds from 53,000 to 123,000, and greater Manchester went from 95,000 to 238,000. The populations of Sheffield and Birmingham also doubled. Manchester began using a steam-powered loom in 1806, and by 1823 they had 10,000. Cotton imports doubled from 50,000 tons in 1815 to 100,000 in 1825. In 1820 nearly half Britain’s exports of produce were cotton goods and wool yarn which rose from 80 million pounds in 1820 to 94 million in 1830.
      During the war that ended in 1815 taxes had multiplied by five, and the national debt had grown to £860 million, which was a third of the capital wealth in the nation. What the Government spent on the Poor Law increased by steps from £5,418,846 in 1815 to £7,870,801 in 1818, and this was raised from tax on landed property. In 1814 wholesale prices were about twice what they had been in 1790, but by 1816 they fell by a third. Britain had 252 newspapers, and the stamp duty on them was raised to 4d. An act authorized the Society of Apothecaries to examine all apothecaries in England and Wales. Despite the Corn Bill of 1815 to keep the price of wheat at 80s a quarter or more by prohibiting imports of cereals that fell below the price which also included oats, barley, rye, peas, and beans at different prices. Malthus approved this policy, and the price of wheat fell from 72s in March to 56s in December. The end of war production reduced British exports from £51 million in 1815 to £42 million the next two years and to £35 million in 1819.
      On 12 February 1815 the Chancellor of the Exchequer Vansittart presented his budget that called for £29 million for the Army and Navy. Although France was paying for the British army of occupation, the army had 49,000 troops in the colonies, 25,000 in Britain with the same in Ireland, making 99,000. The Navy was reduced from 100,000 men in 1815 to 35,000 in 1816. Vansittart proposed reducing the income tax from 10% to 5%, but on 18 March a petition signed at a public meeting by 22,000 people in London opposed the income tax. In 1816 Parliament refused 238-201 to renew the income tax on property that expired after the war because it would not have been spent on public purposes. Vansittart also eliminated the malt tax which with the income tax loss meant £10 million less in annual revenue. Renewal of Exchequer bills and borrowing from the Bank of England made the total loan £11.5 million. The annual interest on the national debt in 1816 was £31.5 million. Liverpool gained an ally in the Commons by appointing Canning to the Board of Control. Imports of raw cotton and raw silk nearly doubled between 1816 and 1818. Britain’s use of raw cotton increased from 94 million pounds in 1815 to 273 million in 1831.
      A bad harvest in 1816 caused the price of wheat to go back up to 103s in December. In July workers in Ghent had burned in a bonfire British merchandise. Unemployment provoked Luddism among farm workers in the eastern counties, and it spread nearly to London. They demanded fixed prices for wheat and beef, and they set barns on fire, broke threshing machines, and armed themselves with pikes and guns. Troops killed two rioters in Cambridgeshire and put 75 laborers on trial; 24 were sentenced to death, and five were hanged. The agitation spread north to the weavers, hosiers, and colliers in the manufacturing districts. A strike at Newcastle demanded higher wages and a lower price of bread. Carts of coal were dragged into towns in Shropshire and Staffordshire. The unemployed marched in Worcester, Coventry, Birmingham, Chester, Liverpool, Leicester, and London. In Birmingham nearly one fifth of the people were receiving weekly relief. In October bakeries and mills at Walsall were looted. Violence broke out in the collieries and iron foundries of South Wales and around Glasgow. British iron production expanded from 250,000 tons in 1810 to 700,000 in 1830.
      The aging Major Cartwright and Francis Burdett agreed to demand the vote for every ratepayer, and they started the Hampden Club with an annual subscription of £2 for landowners. They used successful methods such as the open-air meetings of the Methodists and other Evangelicals who distributed Bibles and worked to end the slave trade. Cartwright got 130,000 signatures on a petition. Wilberforce tried to revive the Association for the Relief of the Manufacturing and Labouring Poor he had started in 1812. At a meeting in the London Tavern on 29 July 1816 Prince Frederick, Duke of York, presided on the platform with other aristocrats including Vansittart; but the democratic Lord Thomas Cochrane aroused the working people, and York was booed and left. At another meeting the next month 8,000 liverymen passed resolutions to reduce taxes, abolish sinecures, and reform Parliament. Bentham’s friends James Mill and Francis Place organized a Committee of Public Safety at a Westminster meeting where Burdett and Cochrane began a petition campaign with two delegates from each district. After the Hampden Club reduced the subscription to 1d a week, their clubs grew rapidly. Cartwright now advocated manhood suffrage.
      Ludditism revived in Nottinghamshire. A new factory at Loughborough was destroyed, but a jury acquitted the workers in August. At Nottingham workers met to pass resolutions in September, and in Lancashire machine-breakers circulated petitions. At a meeting in Westminster the radical Henry Hunt agreed to moderate his language. In October mass meetings were held in Liverpool, Manchester, Paisley, and Glasgow. On the 10th the Regent refused to receive a petition. In protest the Common Council re-elected Alderman Wood the Lord Mayor. Cobbett printed an address to workers in November and sold 44,000 of the pamphlet for 2d.
      In the first large open-air meeting on 15 November 1816 at Spa Fields with 10,000 people a tricolor flag of green, white, and red suggested a new British republic. Hunt argued that the poor were paying most of the taxes on everything they ate, drank, and wore, but the revenues were spent on the relatives of the boroughmongers. He urged a petition before force was applied, but the Regent turned Hunt away twice. Cochrane spoke at a meeting on the 25th and was sent to prison for refusing to pay his fine. On the 28th the Common Council voted for reform and urged the entire Kingdom to petition. A crowd of 20,000 on 2 December gathered at Spa Fields, but this time they were aroused by the more radical Thomas Spence. He advocated equality of wealth and restoring land to the community, and they marched to the Tower of London to try to overthrow the Government; but royal troops arrested those who did not disperse.
      On 23 January 1817 the Convention of Delegates met in London, and that month Cochrane presented to the House of Commons a petition signed by 500,000 people. They argued over manhood suffrage or household suffrage. Moderates held other meetings and formed the Friends of Economy, Public Order, and Reform, and they disavowed universal suffrage and annual elections. Parliament opened on the 28th and hissed the Regent. As he was leaving, two panes of glass in his coach were broken. In February the Lords and Commons both formed secret committees to report on revolutionary plots. Parliament suspended the Habeas Corpus Act until July, and they passed the Treason Act and the Seditious Meetings Act that became law in March and were called the “Gagging Acts.”
      In 1817 Britain budgeted more than £10 million less on military forces than was spent in 1816. Prince Regent George volunteered to reduce his income of £50,000 by 20%, and Castlereagh claimed that officials were also forgoing income equal to the tax they had been paying. The Poor Employment Act was passed to finance public works and fisheries. Magistrates threatened to take away the licenses of publicans who supported petitions. The Home Office sent out the spies Oliver, Castles, and Edwards to infiltrate the radical groups. Hampden Clubs dissolved, and various debating societies suspended their meetings. A magistrate even refused to let a mineralogical society meet because it could lead to atheism. Hunt continued to write for the Black Dwarf, but he lost public support. In 1817 Richard Carlile began promoting the works of Tom Paine and his disciples as well as Voltaire and Diderot. He published Sherwin’s Political Register and in 1819 changed the name to The Republican. Carlile was often arrested, refused to pay fines, and spent a few years in prison.
      At the Spa Fields meeting on 12 February soldiers arrested those alleged to have rioted in December, but in the trials the juries found them not guilty. Other demonstrations in 1817 were dispersed by force. Democratic societies became secret conspiracies and were more likely to turn to violence. In June the Parliament extended the Suspension of Habeas Corpus for six more months, but the Suspension Act was repealed in January 1818. A good harvest reduced the price of wheat to 75s by September. Two-thirds of the Government’s expenditures went to service the national debt, and the 1818 deficit would add to the debt £15,313,000, which was about equal to the previous income tax revenue. Taxes on wool, tobacco, coffee, tea, cocoa, pepper, malt, and spirits went up substantially. To promote charity and soup kitchens the Government spent £1 million to subsidize the building of new churches. Government spending for poor relief reached a peak of nearly £8 million in 1818.
      In July 1818 cotton-spinners in Lancashire went on strike for two months, and an effort was made to form a Union of all Trades. In the August election the Whigs gained about thirty seats but were still outnumbered by Tories 280-175. Political Protestants began meeting at Hull, Newcastle, and York. On 2 September workers attacked a large mill in Manchester, and on the 15th a mob at Burnley released a town crier who had been arrested for announcing a meeting of weavers.
      In the fall at the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle the four powers of Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia ended the occupation of France and agreed on payment of the 332 million francs owed on the indemnity. The four nations accepted France as an equal power in the Concert of Europe. Wellington attended the Congress with Castlereagh, and he joined Liverpool’s cabinet in December 1818 as Master-General of Ordnance.
      In 1819 bad harvests reduced trade, and Wilberforce’s Society for the Suppression of Vice urged prosecutions. In January and February mass meetings were held in Lancashire towns, Manchester, Oldham, Royton, and Stockport where the first union was organized, and they demanded voting reform and repeal of the Corn Law. By June they were planning a federation of unions. On 12 July a large crowd gathered in Birmingham to elect the radical Charles Wolseley their legislative representative, but the next year he would be imprisoned for sedition and conspiracy.
      In August massive demonstrations led to the “Peterloo massacre” at St. Peter’s Field in Manchester on the 16th when cavalry charged a crowd of about 70,000 people, killing eleven and injuring over 400 men and women. The Government then passed the notorious Six Acts to prevent “training,” seize weapons, expedite misdemeanors, ban seditious meetings and libels, and increase taxes on publications. Petitions were not allowed to have more than twenty signatures. The army was increased by 10,000 men. Robert Peel’s bill to relieve children from labor exploitation prohibited employing children under the age of nine and limited their work to 12 hours a day. Robert Owen had advised ten hours. The Poor Relief Act helped reduce expenditures for the Poor Law steadily from 1819 to 1824. John Gast began publishing the first trade union newspaper, Gorgon, in 1819.
      The Institution of Civil Engineers was founded in 1818 and was incorporated in 1828. There were at least 183 prosecutions for libel in Britain from 1817 to 1820. Law in 1819 made gold the sole currency, and the gold standard was restored by 1821. Prince Regent George did not get along with his wife Caroline of Brunswick but would not divorce her. In 1819 she got an increase in her allowance from £35,000 to £50,000, renounced her title and agreed not to return to England.

Britain under the Tories 1820-30

      After King George III died on 29 January 1820, George IV caught pneumonia and nearly succumbed but recovered by 10 February. Caroline came back on 5 June, and crowds demonstrated to support her. On the 15th a mutiny by the guards of the King’s Mews was suppressed. On the 28th her advisor Brougham presented a plan for state-supported primary education in the Commons, but the distraction over Caroline made it ignored. In January 1821 she renounced her positions and privileges and accepted £50,000 a year for life; but she died on 7 August of illness, or rumors said of poison.
      In 1820 the spy George Edwards instigated the Cato Street Conspiracy to kill the cabinet ministers at a dinner and then carry their heads on pikes in the streets to proclaim the Spencean Arthur Thistlewood the president of the Britannic Republic; but 13 conspirators were arrested on the 23rd. In the trial two men testified against the others, and ten others were sentenced to death on 28 April. Five had their penalty commuted to transportation for life, and Thistlewood and four others were hanged on 1 May. Parliament prohibited the whipping of women.
      The circulation of £5 notes fell from a value of £7,400,000 in February 1819 to £900,000 in August 1822. In 1820 the price of wheat fell to 64s, and by November 1822 it was below 39s. Ricardo criticized borrowing from the Sinking Fund (which Pitt had designated for paying down the debt) for expenses such as wars, and he argued that keeping the ministers poor would keep them peaceful. In 1822 the Government saved money by reducing the pensions for civil servants and the military. Even though Vansittart also reduced the duties on salt, leather, and the Irish window tax, the year produced a surplus of £4,915,520. The Government suspended Habeas Corpus again and passed another Insurrection Act.
      Wilberforce gave a speech in 1822 on the abolition of slavery, and in early 1823 he and his friends founded the Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery which later became the Anti-Slavery Society. On 15 May Fowell Buxton got the Parliament to approve the gradual ending of slavery by declaring that children born of slaves after a certain date would be free; but implementing this in the colonies was problematic, and efforts in Trinidad provoked insurrections in Guiana and Jamaica by slaves blaming planters for not agreeing.
      While serving as Foreign Minister since 1812 Castlereagh had worked 12 or 13 hours a day, and his official papers filled 70 volumes. He refused to give up his leadership in the Commons, and the stress caused a mental breakdown. Poor medical care led to his suicide on 12 August 1822. The talented George Canning was reluctantly accepted as Foreign Secretary and Tory leader in the House of Commons by George IV who as King of Hanover had his own secret service. Canning sent Wellington to the Congress of Verona in October. He urged recognizing the rights of the Greeks, and he advised against intervening in the independence struggles in Spanish America. When Spaniards invaded Portugal, Canning persuaded the cabinet to send troops to defend the Portuguese.
      Robert Peel had been Chief Secretary in Ireland 1812-18, and in January 1822 he became Home Secretary. In 1823 the death penalty was removed from more than a hundred offenses including petty theft, and judges were allowed to withhold the death sentence in capital cases other than murder. Peel’s bills in the next year also reformed the prison system by providing scrutiny for 150 minor prisons. In 1829 his bill replaced parish constables and watchmen with the Metropolitan Police in the London area outside the city limits.
      In February 1823 William Huskisson became President of the Board of Trade, and he reduced import duties greatly, lowering prices and stimulating English manufacturing. The Reciprocity of Duties Act allowed the negotiating of treaties with any country to lower charges on traded goods. A Master and Servant Act in 1823 authorized jail for servants who broke a contract while masters could only be fined. Wages were so low that they had only time to work, eat, and sleep.
      Methodist revivals in Lancashire and Cumberland led to 2,000 conversions in Cornwall in 1823. Benthamites founded the Westminster Review in January 1824. In May the Bank was required to exchange notes for legal coins. British exports increased from £33,534,000 in 1819 to £48,730,000 in 1824. In 1824 and 1825 the Government was able to apply £5 million each year to the Sinking Fund for the debt and still have a small surplus. Joseph Hume and Francis Place persuaded a Select Committee to repeal the Combination Acts. Trade unions sprang up, and strikes occurred in textiles, dyeing, mining, and shoemaking. Also in 1824 £500,000 was spent to make police forces more efficient.
      Thomas Erskine’s bill prohibiting cruelty to animals had passed the Lords in 1809 but was defeated in the Commons. Richard Martin introduced a bill for the better treatment of cattle, horses, and other livestock that became law in 1822, and in 1824 he and Buxton founded the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
      On 3 January 1825 the British recognized the independence of the republics of Buenos Aires, Mexico, and Colombia. Food prices were high in 1825, and Parliament amended the Combination Act to limit strikes. That year the Stockton and Darlington Railway opened. An improved economy led to a building boom in 1825, but it went bust by the end of the year. The London bank of Pole, Thornton & Co. failed on 12 December, causing 43 bank failures in the country, collapse of the stock exchange, and business bankruptcies. One week later Paris loaned London £400,000. The Bank of England raised the discount rate to the 5% maximum, and soon gold was returning. The £1 and £2 bank notes were to be withdrawn by April 1829. The number of houses in Britain increased from 2,100,000 in 1811 to 2,850,000 in 1831. The unemployment of 10,000 Spitalfields silk-weavers in January 1826 spread to the north.
      In April 1826 the Duke of Wellington was sent to St. Petersburg where he signed a protocol with the new Tsar Nicholas I that allowed the British to mediate for Greek autonomy. The Duke of York died on 5 January 1827, and Wellington became Commander-in-Chief. On 6 July Britain, France, and Russia signed a treaty in London that would allow Greece to be independent though under the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II. When he refused to accept the armistice or the treaty, the European powers intervened at Navarino on 20 October and destroyed the Turkish-Egyptian fleet.
      Prime Minister Liverpool suffered a stroke on 17 February 1827, and he retired on 9 April. He died on 4 December. After three dukes opposed George Canning, George IV appointed him. Wellington, Peel, and five other ministers resigned, and three Whigs joined the Cabinet. Canning’s health was declining, and he died on 8 August. The King appointed Frederick Robinson, who had just become Viscount Goderich, but he had trouble forming a government and resigned on 21 January 1828.
      He was succeeded by the Duke of Wellington, who had to resign as Commander-in-Chief, and no Whigs would serve under him. Peel returned as Home Secretary and Commons leader. Huskisson was Secretary for War and the Colonies, but he resigned on 30 May followed by four Canningites over quarrels involving electoral reforms of the corrupt boroughs of Penrhyn and East Retford. Wellington got passed a modification of Huskisson’s sliding-scale amendment to the Corn Laws. The Whig John Russell’s bill to repeal the Test and Corporation Acts that had limited offices to Anglicans became law in May. Burdett’s motion for Catholic Relief passed the Commons but was rejected by the Lords. Wellington appointed the Irish Vesey Fitzgerald to the Board of Trade; but after O’Connell defeated Fitzgerald for the County Clare seat, Wellington and Peel accepted Catholic emancipation.
      Peel introduced the Catholic Relief Act with a four-hour speech on 6 March 1829, and the Lords passed it on 13 April. This law made Catholics eligible for all offices except Regent, Chancellor, and Lord Lieutenant or Chancellor of Ireland. However, another bill raised the voting requirement in Ireland from 40 shillings to £10.
      The Whig Henry Brougham founded the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in 1826 to educate more people by encouraging them to read many publications that included volumes of the Penny Cyclopedia which began in 1828. Wages in 1829 were only 6% more than they had been in 1790, and the harvest was poor. John Doherty came to Manchester from Ulster in 1816, and in 1829 he founded the General Union of Cotton Spinners, and in March 1830 he started publishing the United Trades Co-operative Journal to promote Owenism. In January Thomas Atwood had begun the Birmingham Political Union of the Lower and Middle Classes. By 1830 Britain had more than 300 cooperative societies.
      George IV died on 26 June 1830 and was succeeded by his brother William IV. Parliament was dissolved on 24 July, and in the election 250 Tories were elected; but they lost 178 seats including 60 to the new Ultra-Tories. The Whigs lost two seats and elected 196. After a hard winter and spring in agriculture during the summer workers inspired by the July revolution in France, used the fictitious name “Captain Swing” on threatening letters. They demolished threshing machines in the Elham Valley in East Kent, destroying more than a hundred machines by October. On a vote to appoint a Select Committee to investigate the Civil List accounts, the Tory Government lost 233-204 to a coalition of the Whigs, Canningites, and Ultras, on 15 November 1830, and Wellington resigned the next day.

      William Cobbett (1763-1835) was brought up on a farm and was taught to read and write by his father. After odd jobs he joined the army in 1784, and he became a sergeant-major while serving in Canada until 1790, reading in his spare time. He tried and failed to bring officers to a court martial, and he wrote “The Soldier’s Friend” to urge higher pay and better treatment. He married and had several children. After a few months in France they crossed the Atlantic to Wilmington in September 1792 and then moved to Philadelphia where he taught English to French refugees and translated French books. He began writing in 1794 and published the daily Porcupine’s Gazette 1797-99. He was fined $5,000 for libel and returned to England in 1800.
      Cobbett began the Political Register in 1802, publishing it weekly until 1835. In 1806 he became friends with radicals such as Major Cartwright, Francis Burdett, and Lord Cochrane. In 1808 Cobbett began campaigning against corruption. He exposed the flogging of militiamen at Ely, and on 15 June 1810 he was convicted of treasonous libel, was fined £2,000, and spent two years in prison during which he wrote the pamphlet Paper against Gold to warn about the dangers of paper money. He also wrote about the Luddites.
      After the duty on newspapers was increased to 4d, in 1816 Cobbett changed the Political Register to a pamphlet to avoid the tax so that he could sell it for 2d; its circulation rose to about 50,000 a week. His journal was read by the working class, and in 1817 a magistrate in Shropshire ordered two men flogged for distributing copies of the Register. Cobbett was in danger of being charged with sedition and having to pay £18,000 tax owed on his pamphlets. He escaped to the United States, but he came back to England in November 1819. He started a plant nursery at Kensington and developed a variety of maize. He published Cottage Economy in 1822 and A Treatise on Cobbett’s Corn in 1828. He also worked for Catholic emancipation and published his History of the Protestant Reformation in installments from 1824 to 1826. In 1829 his Advice to Young Men criticized the essay on population by Malthus. In 1830 his book of previous articles described the misery of the working class in his Rural Rides.

Owen’s Economic Reforms

      Robert Owen was born on 14 May 1771 in a market town in Wales. His schooling ended when he was ten, and he worked as an apprentice for four years in a draper’s shop in Stamford. In 1789 he moved to Manchester. He borrowed £100 from his brother and with a partner began making spinning mules for cotton thread. In 1792 Owen became the manager of the Piccadilly Mill, and two years later he formed another partnership and managed the Chorlton Twist Mills. He joined the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, and he worked with the physician Thomas Percival on the Manchester Board of Health to improve the conditions of factory workers.
      While visiting Glasgow he fell in love with the daughter of David Dale, the philanthropist who owned the New Lanark Mills. In July 1799 Owen and his partners bought the New Lanark mill. He married Caroline Dale in September, and they had eight children in ten years. Owen managed the 2,000 employees that included 500 children who came from poorhouses and charities in Edinburgh and Glasgow. He worked to improve their houses and to teach them order, cleanliness, and thrift. He closed local shops that sold alcohol to relieve the problem of drunkenness and opened a store where they could buy quality goods at little more than their cost. He was one of the first to found schools in Britain for infants from two to six years of age along with schools from six to twelve. He set aside one-sixtieth of wages to pay for sickness, injury, and old age. In 1810 he began advocating an 8-hour workday, and he instituted it at New Lanark.
      In 1813 Owen with Jeremy Bentham and the Quaker William Allen became partners in a philanthropic firm that would allow members a 5% return on their capital. Owen often expressed his philosophy that “man’s character is made not by him but for him” because people are formed by their circumstances. He believed that the proper physical, moral, and social influences from the earliest years would result in good character.
      He wrote A New View of Society; or, Essays on the Principle of the Formation of Human Character in 1812-13, and the first printed edition was put on sale in 1816. At the opening of the first essay appears this quote:

Any general character, from the best to the worst,
from the most ignorant to the most enlightened,
may be given to any community, even to the world at large,
by the application of proper means; which means are
to a great extent at the command and under the control of
those who have influence in the affairs of men.10

Then he noted that three-quarters of the British and Irish population was the poor and working classes, and many of their characters were in vice and misery, making them dangerous to the empire. He also mentioned the injustice of negro slavery in various parts of the world. He asserted “that children can be trained to acquire any language, sentiments, belief, or any bodily habits and manners, not contrary to human nature.”11 He proposed that the happiness of self can be clearly understood and practiced, and it can be attained by conduct which promotes the happiness of the community. He advised that children must be trained from infancy in good habits and then later rationally educated so that their labor can be usefully directed. This education will impress upon them the desire to promote the happiness of everyone without exception for sect, party, or country based on a healthy body and peace of mind.
      In his second essay Owen applied his principles to practice so that people will be induced to have charity for all. Falsehood and deception must be held in disgrace, their practical evils explained, and every expression given to truth and open conduct. Dissensions and quarrels not adjusted by the parties themselves were to be resolved by the manager who explained how usually both are wrong and then recommended forgiveness and friendship. He advised discontinuing employing children under the age of ten who might work a few hours a day until they are twelve. (At this time children as young as six were working long days.) Children were to be taught reading, writing, and arithmetic from age five to ten without expense to the parents. He advised that particular creeds should be avoided but that precepts of Christianity common to all denominations could be taught. Houses were to be comfortable with provisions purchased at low rates. He believed that if measures of fair equity and justice were adopted, they could have confidence in the lower orders. Children were to be taught and trained without any punishment. A national plan of education should exclude no child and should include all modern improvements.
      In the third essay Owen applied the principles to particular situations and opened with the quote, “Truth must ultimately prevail over error.”12 Circumstances which foster bad habits are to be removed. Each child is to learn never to injure a play-fellow but rather to contribute everything in one’s power to make them happy. Owen asked if a person with vigorous faculties may form a rational judgment on any subject until one has collected the relevant facts which are known. He believed that humans are born with a desire to obtain happiness which is the cause of all action and continues through life and is called “self-interest.” When knowledge received is true and extended to the utmost without any error, then one may enjoy all the happiness in one’s nature. He argued that all persons were presently irrationally trained, resulting in the misery of the world. When truths are made evident, then every individual will endeavor to promote the happiness of everyone within one’s sphere of action because this is what leads to self-happiness. He wrote, “Were all men trained to be rational, the art of war would be rendered useless.”13
      In the fourth essay he applied the principles to government, the goal of which is to make people happy. To remove the existing evils in society unwise laws must be repealed or modified. The state lottery should be discontinued because it legalizes gambling, entraps the unwary, and robs the ignorant. Benevolence does not allow the destitute to starve. He argued that the British Poor Laws compelled the industrious to support the ignorant and idle. Then he explained the system needed to prevent crime and supersede these laws by forming human character. They must correct the errors in education that cause evils. He argued that the best governed state will be the one that has the best national system of education. He believed that the time had come for the British Government to provide a national system of training and education for the poor to form them into rational beings and useful members of the state. He warned that the Church which adheres to defective and injurious parts of its system cannot be induced to act against its apparent interests. He hoped that a national education for the poor that is not exclusive will destroy errors that are in opposition to facts. He recommended providing labor for those who may be occasionally unemployed. He responded to the concern about overpopulation by suggesting that the solutions are by scientific progress in agriculture that could feed more people and by securing a fair distribution of wealth.
      In 1815 Owen restricted child labor to those twelve and older, and he insisted they be taught to read and write before they begin work. He demanded the government institute a system of national education to prevent idleness, poverty, and crime. He noted that the use of machinery reduced the price of manufactured goods and so increased the demand for them so much that more human labor was employed. After the war ended, demand for products decreased, and less government spending diminished demand. Mechanical power became cheaper than labor, causing unemployment and lower wages.
      In 1817 Owen wrote a report to the Committee of the House of Commons on the Poor Law. He acknowledged that the competition between human labor and machines could be stressful, but he advised that united action could subordinate machinery. In 1819 he began to promote the agricultural experiments of William Falla using spade husbandry which produced higher yields per acre than shallow plowing with horses.
      In 1820 his “Report to the County of Lanark” proposed collective farming to relieve the unemployed. He suggested establishing Villages of Unity and Cooperation for about a thousand people on at least a thousand acres of land. He argued that the most natural standard of value is human labor that combined physical and mental powers in action. He emphasized the principle of united labor, expenditure, and property with equal privileges. Owen opposed the competitive system and preferred the aid that comes from social arrangement which unites the interests of individuals and society. He proposed a plan to integrate the education of children with their productive employment in the community aided by the improvements of science.
      Owen believed in free trade and an efficient economy, but he also emphasized economic justice in exchange and distribution that could produce economic growth. He challenged the existing system of private property, competition, and inequality.
      In 1825 Owen emigrated to America to start the New Harmony community in Indiana; but he had conflicts with William Allen and other partners, and after expending his fortune of $500,000 he resigned in 1828. He warned that machinery would destroy the working classes unless governments were just to all who produce wealth. He argued that machinery could diminish the need for unhealthy and disagreeable manual labor and that increased wealth could be diffused more equally to remove poverty, fear of it, and ignorance. He warned against the “dire effects of superabundance” that had harmed workers in 1815-16, 1819, 1821, and 1825.

Thompson and Owenism

      Owen had disciples promoting his theory and practices. The London Co-operative Society was founded in 1824, and its Co-operative Magazine promoted Owenism from 1826 to 1830. The Irish Utilitarian William Thompson (1775-1833) may have been the first to use the term “competitive” to describe the capitalistic markets, and he coined the term “surplus value” that was adopted by Karl Marx. Thompson argued that the community of goods has not only moral benefits but also economic advantages. He questioned “artificial needs” that lead to “superfluous production” such as changing fashions in clothing. He was a friend of Bentham and agreed with his utility principle that he called the “art of social happiness” and a new “social science” that applied political economy. This science was concerned not just with possessing wealth but was also with the just distribution of it to the community with continued production. A strong stimulus to production is the need for “security in the entire use of the products of labour to those who produce them.” Security is reconcilable with exchanges that are voluntary and possessions that are acquired by industry. Like Owen, Thompson believed that what people want is justice, not charity.
      In 1824 Thompson published his An Inquiry into the Principles of the Distribution of Wealth most conducive to Human Happiness applied to the newly proposed system of voluntary equality of wealth. He asserted that labor is the source of wealth and that the purpose of distributing wealth is or should be to provide the greatest happiness for those producing it. He noted that all men and women are capable of achieving equal happiness from wealth. He believed that voluntary exchanges of products increase happiness but that the forced withdrawal of products reduces happiness. He advised distributing wealth to produce the greatest equality consistent with the greatest production. He described the moral evils and vices caused by the forced inequality of wealth which does not add to the happiness of the rich because it engenders vices. Unequal wealth results in uncompensated loss and fosters industry that is less useful. Monopoly and misused political power cause unequal wealth. The natural laws of distribution are compatible only with representative government, and greater equality removes motives for crime as well as vices.
      Thompson argued that the competition of low wages is also unfriendly to the accumulation of capital while the exhilarating competition for increased remuneration favors production. By removing excessive poverty and wealth from society the vices of luxury and want would nearly cease. Most crimes are motivated by inequality of wealth under the pressure of poverty and misery. He asked how could the wretched poor be virtuous? Unrestricted competition promotes selfishness against benevolence, wastes the talent of the female half of the population, leads to unprofitable exertions, provides no resources for illness and old age, and obstructs the progress of education. Equal security maintains natural distribution and promotes reproduction. Positive benefits would be less unproductive consumption, less unemployment, less waste in the name of profits, better health for those who had been poor, more happiness, and balanced supply and demand. Equal security would not be just for the few but for everyone. Limited security allows force and fraud, exploitation of labor’s products, and restrains exchanges to cater to favorites while facilitating public and private plunder. He concluded his book with this list of the ways to bring about desirable distribution:

1. Simple representative institutions.
2. The entire abolition, under these,
of all the restraints of insecurity,
(entail, primogeniture, combination local and general,
wages-regulation direct or indirect, monopolies of knowledge
of professions, of trades, bounties, game privilege laws,
public plunder, with all other expedients incompatible with
equal security or the natural laws of distribution)….
3. The progress and diffusion of knowledge, and
the gradual perception of their real interests by all societies,
would gradually effect the remainder; that is to say,
every thing useful as to wealth, as well as to every other
means of producing happiness, in social arrangement.14

      Thompson was one of the first male feminists, and he wrote An Appeal of One Half the Human Race, Women, Against the Pretensions of the Other Half, Men, to Retain Them in Political, and thence in Civil and Domestic Slavery (1825). This was written as a response to an “Article on Government” by James Mill. Thompson summarized his ideas in an introductory letter to Anna Wheeler n which he affirmed that “Mutual Co-operation in large numbers” which combines interest and duty is needed “to give equal  happiness to both sexes.” He noted that man’s superior strength that is useful to the general happiness is balanced by the ability of women to bear and nurture infants. He recognized that individual competition even with equal rights would not bring women equal happiness with men. However, equal political rights followed by equal civil and domestic rights could raise women to equal happiness with men. He concluded this book by asking,

Shall none be found with sufficient knowledge
and elevation of mind to persuade men to do good,
to make the most certain step towards
the regeneration of degraded humanity,
by opening a free course for justice and benevolence,
for intellectual and social enjoyments,
by no colour, by no sex to be restrained?
As your bondage has chained down man
to the ignorance and vices of despotism,
so will your liberation reward him
with knowledge, with freedom and with happiness.15

      Thomas Gray made Owen’s economic ideas more popular with his Lecture on Human Happiness in 1825. That year Thomas Hodgkin published his Labour Defended Against the Claims of Capital Against the Claims of Capital using the pseudonym “A Labourer,”  and extracts were printed in the Trades Newspaper with favorable editorials. He defended trade unionism and argued that society is held together by combinations. He excoriated capitalists for exploiting the work of others.

Betwixt him who produces food
and him who produces clothing,
betwixt him who makes instruments and him who uses them,
in steps the capitalist, who neither makes nor uses them
and appropriates to himself the produce of both.16

Hodgkin acknowledged that the capitalist manager is a worker and productive in that role but not as a middleman or speculator. He wrote,

The most successful and widest-spread possible combination
to obtain an augmentation of wages would have
no other injurious effect than to reduce the incomes of those
who live on profit and interest, and who have no just claim
but custom to any share of the national produce.17

      In 1827 Thompson published Labor Rewarded: The claims of labour and capital conciliated; or, How to secure to labour the whole product of its exertion. He argued that the competitive system is a barrier to freedom of labor and the equal diffusion of knowledge. Thompson was the first Owenite to recommend unions as a way to introduce cooperation, but he warned that a Central Union of All Trades would not be effective if it competed against poorer workers in other countries. Thompson was one of the first to use the term “socialism” in 1827. In 1830 he published Practical Directions for the Speedy and Economical Establishment of Communities on the Principles of Mutual Co-operation, United Possessions and Equality of Exertions and the Means of Enjoyments. He urged all those in the community to direct their physical and mental labor to what is deemed by the general voice to be most conducive to the general good.


1. Memoires de Marchand, 1:205 quoted in Titan: The Art of British Power in the Age of Revolution and Napoleon by William R. Nester, p. 322.
2. The Principles of Morals and Legislation by Jeremy Bentham, p. 1-2.
3. A Plan for an Universal and Perpetual Peace by Jeremy Bentham in Jeremy Bentham by Charles W. Everett, p. 221.
4. An Essay on the Principle of Population by Thomas Robert Malthus, p. 14.
5. Principles of Political Economy by Thomas Robert Malthus, p. 430.
6. Ibid., p. 437.
7. On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation by David Ricardo, p. 1.
8. Ibid., p. 80.
9. “Commerce Defended” in Selected Economic Writings by James Mill, p. 158.
10. A New View of Society and Other Writings by Robert Owen, p. 14.
11. Ibid., p. 16.
12. Ibid., p. 39.
13. Ibid., p. 57.
14. Inquiry into the Principles of the Distribution of Wealth by William Thompson, p. 600.
15. An Appeal of One Half the Human Race, Women by William Thompson, p. 213.
16. Quoted in The Making of the English Working Class by E. P. Thompson, p. 778.
17. Ibid., p. 779.

Copyright © 2018 by Sanderson Beck

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France’s Revolution 1789-95
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