Growth of Democracy in Great Britain in 1800s

Topics: Women's suffrage, Suffrage, Elections Pages: 2 (629 words) Published: May 23, 2012
Does it matter if democracy is still expanding in Great Britain or anywhere else in the world? Democracy, a form of government by the people, expanded somewhat dramatically in Great Britain between 1830 and 1914. Examples of democratic expansion in Great Britain include the increase of male suffrage and the regulation of working conditions. This expansion wasn’t dramatic because women still couldn’t vote during that time period.

The increase of male suffrage helped the expansion of democracy in Great Britain. Only 5% of the British population had the right to vote in the early 1800s. The Reform Act of 1832 gave merchants, bankers, and factory owners the right to vote and ended rotten boroughs, which were the male landowners. Many working class men felt they had gained nothing from this legislature, so the London Working Men’s Association came up with the “People’s Charter”, which was a petition explaining how they wanted a vote for all men over the age of 21, a secret ballot, no property qualifications of members of Parliament, the payment of members of Parliament, equal constituencies, and annual Parliaments. The male homeowners and men who rented homes of a certain value, mostly men who lived in urban areas, gained the right to vote with the Reform Act of 1867. By then, 1.5 million men could vote. With the Reform Act of 1884, all male homeowners and men who rented homes of a certain value that lived in the countryside could also vote. By this point in time, 60% of all men could vote and the number of working class men who had suffrage increased, but poor men and women were still disenfranchised.

Democracy also expanded as Great Britain created many reforms. In 1807, Great Britain abolished the slave trade and by 1833, banned slavery in all its colonies. In the early 1800’s, more than 200 crimes were punishable by death, but by 1850, only murder, piracy, treason, and arson had fatal punishments. Trade unions are organizations of workers that have joined...
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