GREAT BRITAIN, 1783-1850

The Big Questions

The Big Questions

William Pitt The Younger - AS Level History* The successes and failures of William Pitt the Younger’s tenure as Prime Minister.

* Britain’s response to the French Revolution and radicalism.

* The successes and failures of the Tory Governments of 1822-1830.

* Reforms to the political system, and above all the Great Reform Act of 1832.

* Robert Peel’s reforms of the Tory party and the successes and failures of his time as Prime Minister between 1841 and 1846.

Important Background Knowledge

Pitt the Younger became Prime Minister on the back of some turbulent events that left Britain facing some significant problems, and also more long-standing problems. In particular, you need to be aware of:

* The electoral system that pre-dated this era, especially the existence of rotten boroughs, political placemen and a wide range of voting requirements between different political constituencies.

* The loss of the Thirteen Colonies in the American War of Independence and their significance in terms of causing economic problems and exposing Britain’s isolation in the world.

* The existence of the slave trade and Britain’s role within it.

* Opposition within Ireland to British rule.

The Main Areas of Focus

The Government of Pitt the Younger

The main aspects of Pitt’s time as Prime Minister that you will need to be able to discuss are:

King George III - AS Level History* The initial opposition to Pitt’s premiership within parliament, especially from the Fox-North coalition.

* George III’s support for Pitt and the electoral majority won by Pitt at the March 1784.

The economic problems facing Britain in 1783, especially the national debt level.

* The economic reforms made by Pitt in his capacity as Chancellor of the Exchequer, including indirect taxes, the India Act (1874), reducing duties and the creation of the sinking fund.

* Pitt’s success in reducing the national debt and increasing government revenues.

* The failure of Pitt’s bill to bring about parliamentary reform in 1785.

* Pitt’s success (and luck) in preventing his dismissal by Prince George in 1788 through delaying the Regency Bill.

* His failure to either build an effective alliance against France or to prevent French victories on the continent.

* The reforms brought in to stop the spread of radicalism, such as the Seditious Meetings Act and the Combinations Act, as well as the suspension of habeas corpus.

* The introduction of income tax as a result of the economic strains created by the war with France and the measures made to protect gold reserves in 1797.

* Pitt’s resignation in 1801 as a result of his failure to convince George III of the necessity of Catholic emancipation.

The Lord Liverpool Years

This part of the A Level exam concentrates in particular on:

Lord Liverpool - A Level History* The growth of radicalism in Britain from 1812 and the rise in unrest as a result of tax increases and movements such as the Luddites.

* The reasons for the passing of the Corn Law (1815) and opposition to it.

* The Peterloo Massacre of 1819 and the further protests it caused.

* The response of Lord Liverpool’s government to these threats and events, including the suspension of habeas corpus in 1817 and the passing of the Six Acts in 1819.

Tory Governments between 1822 and 1830

You will need to be able to examine:

* The key differences between the Whigs and the Tories at this time.

* The repeal of the Combination Acts.

* The splits that developed within the Tory party and their consequences, particularly after Lord Liverpool’s retirement, especially related to Catholic emancipation.

* The movement for Catholic emancipation, including the election of Daniel O’Connell.

* Lord Wellington’s handling of Catholic emancipation, the Catholic Relief Act and his resignation as Prime Minister.

* The coming to power of the Whigs and the collapse of the Tories.