(a) Comment on the term “Reforming to preserve” in the context of the Whig reforms 1830-1841. The term “Reforming to preserve” means that the government needed to give the people some reform so as to stop them revolting. If they did this it would mean that the people would settle down because for the moment they were content. An example of this is where the government gives in to the will of the people and gives them some basic reforms. (b) Explain why there was opposition to Whig reforms in factories and education.
The church opposed reform in education because reform would mean that the Church of England would no longer be in charge of all education. This meant that some schools would not teach the children that the Church of England was that important. When the Church of England was in charge of education, children learned that the church was the most important part of their life. The Church of England also feared that if other religions were able to run schools then more people would change their religion, and become for example Roman Catholic or Quaker. The middle class also opposed reform in education.
This was because they felt that if working class people were allowed to be educated then that would make the working class the same as them on some level. The middle class used their education to further themselves in social circles, and if the working class had this as well then it would bring the working class up to the same level of education as the middle class, which was not in the interests of the middle class. There was opposition to reform in factories because at the moment wages were cheap because women were cheaper to employ then men, and children were even cheaper then women.
There was also the danger that any change in the factory system could mean a downfall in output, which could have severe implications on the economy. (c) What factors influenced the Whig government in carrying out their programme of reforms 1830-1841? The Whig party itself had members who thought that reform was pragmatic and needed. The 1832 Reform Act was regarded by the Whigs as a final settlement and was done to preserve rather than escalate the situation. The Whig motivation for reform came from a belief that the duty of the government brought a responsibility to try to improve social problems.
The Whigs also may have used the issue of reform to get the people on their side. At the time there were a lot of disturbances and the government thought that if they introduced reform then that would calm the situation down. The major force behind the implementation of the reforms of the 1830’s were a group of politicians whose main test of any government was its accountability and efficiency. Leading Utilitarians such as Edwin Chadwick were on many of the commissions set up by the government. This group did have an impact on the Whig government in the 1830’s. There were also a number of pressure groups trying to influence the government.
The main two were the Humanitarians who were a cross-party group of individuals committed to the improvement of working conditions, especially in the mines and factories. By the 1830’s the full scale of industrialisation had produced terrible working conditions, especially in the textile industries, and this pressure group demanded basic human rights such as a ten-hour day for adults. Closely linked to the Humanitarian group were the Evangelicals. They took a religious and moral interest in social conditions. William Wilberforce was the leader of this party and he had support from all parties because of his moral standpoint.