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Gladstone Essay

Why did Gladstone describe his first ministry as an era of Liberation? Gladstone first came into power in 1968 aged 59. He dominated British politics from 1868-1894. Many people said that Gladstone was the Liberal party. Gladstone drove the Liberal party to success therefore he was able to describe his first ministry an era of Liberation. Gladstone’s first ministry was a success. There was aspects to the Liberal that may have helped/hindered the parties success. Gladstone’s Liberal Party was sectioned into different groups. These groups involved the whigs, Peelites, Radicals, and Liberals.

In fact Gladstone also had a rival within the party known as Joseph Chamberlain. Gladstone’s came into power in a time when technology was advancing very quickly. For example the railway was developing very quickly so Gladstone was able to travel to different cities and deliver his speech. Along with that the printing press was also developing so the news was able to get around the country much quicker. The main thing that made Gladstone’s first ministry so successful was some of the acts that he passed. One act that won over a lot supporters for the Liberals was the Irish Church Act.

This was one of the most successful pieces of Gladstone’s Irish Legislation. The act over all in 1869 disestablished churches in Ireland. The act was passed quite easily, the reason for this being the fact that the only 12% of the population was Anglican. The passing of the act won over a great bulk of the nonconformist in Ireland which would be very beneficial for the party. The passing of the act is judged as the road to recovery of the Liberals as it removed a major Irish grievance and extended the principle of religious liberalism/equality. However, this does not mean that Gladstone was very popular in Ireland.

Apart from the Irish Church act there are other acts that were less popular. Two examples are the Irish Land Act and Universities Act. The Land act meant that there was a limitation on the landlord’s power of eviction for non payment of rent if the court judged the rent to be excessively high. This act was no way as popular as the as the Irish Church Act. The reasons being that the Land owners were very sensitive about their land and didn’t anyone messing around with their property rights. This was a hard act to choose if it’s in favour of liberation or not.

Overall it’s fifty-fifty as the party was a torn between pleasing the Lords or the lower working class men. An act that was less popular than the Irish Act was the University Act. The liberals set up Roman Catholic University. In the university Modern History, Philosophy and Theology wouldn’t be taught in the. This act was very unpopular and it was defeated in the House of common. Also it didn’t please the catholic Bishops. This was a step too far for the liberals and after it Gladstone offered to resign. The University act wasn’t liberating or popular. However that does not mean that all the unpopular acts were unpopular.

The army reform was very unpopular among the Aristocracy, the Senior Officers and the Conservatives. The Army reform act was very liberating. There were two main reasons for the reform in the army. One of the reasons was the Crimean War 1854-6 in which mare soldiers were killed from disease than the ones that were killed in the war. The second reason was the France-Prussian war 1870. In the war the German army was much disciplined and so do extremely well in the war against France. These two reasons made Gladstone feel that change was needed. So he introduced the reform act.

The act stated that corporal punishments were no longer allowed so there would be no more flogging or branding. The troops from New Zealand, Canada and Australia were withdrawn this meant the countries would now need to create their own Army. Bounty money was abolished and finally the sale of commissions was abolished so you could no longer buy positions in the army. This very much supported Gladstone’s ideology of “By merit and effort not birth” and thus this creates competition and meritocracy among the soldiers. This act was liberating as it made the army more professional overall and also all the soldiers were equal.

The idea of meritocracy was taking place as the money could no longer buy positions. Also overall the army was now an effective Imperial force. There was better treatment of the soldiers. Opposition was present against the act. Aristocracy were against the act as it meant that they lost power and influence. Also the senior officers would no longer be able to buy their son’s way into the army. Along with the army reforms act the Education Act 1870. This act overall was pretty successful. It was immensely significant as it led to the mass elementary education of the English and Welsh population this also produces the first literate generation..

After the passing of the act within the end of the century a largely literate generation had been produced. Also the amount of children educated increased as before the act only 20% of children between 10 and 12 attended school. This act transferred figure in a generation. Also most importantly it vastly increased the education opportunities for girls. Along with this the conditions at school improved. So there was better food and equipment for students to use. At the start WEG was not totally convinced that this was a good idea but they slowly realised that this was essential.

This act was liberating because it gave children from different social back ground to access education along with giving girls a better chance of being educated. Therefore in conclusion Gladstone had the right to call his first ministry and era of liberation and he was able to make drastic changes in many parts of Britain some of the most important being the army reform act and the education act. Gladstone followed up on his ideologies of equality for everyone and “merit and effort not birth” Some of his acts may not have been as successful as others however the overall success is very commendable.


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