THE BEGINNINGS OF DEMOCRATIC SUFFRAGE:
THE REFORM ACT OF 1867
Growing desire for more liberal franchise--The Radical and Chartist movements--Weakness of reform movement in House of Commons--The Liberal recognition of' need for further franchise reform--Russell's Reform Bills of 1852, 1854, 1860-- Disraeli's Reform Bill of 1859--Difference between the Liberal and Conservative proposals--Gladstone's bill of 1866--The £7 franchise in boroughs--Abolition of rate-paying requirements-- Probable effects of the bill--Opposition in the Commons--Robert Lowe and the "Adullamites"--Methods of opposition--Resignation of the Liberals--Disraeli's bill of 1867--Household suffrage in boroughs--Restrictions--The dual vote--Probable effect of the original bill--The Liberal opposition--Question of personal payment of rates--The compound occupiers--Abolition of composition--Effects of this amendment--Removal of other restrictions-- The new county franchise--Borough freeholders in counties-- Contemporary opinion on the act as passed--The Reform Act of 1867 incomplete.
THE extent of corrupt practices and the failure of parliament to assure freedom of elections operated, without question, as a very serious barrier to the development of an electoral democracy. The opinions of the voters were stifled either by gold or by fear, and the wealthy classes were able to maintain their domination at the polls to a large degree. This fact was clearly perceived by the keener spirits, and it was not merely to obliterate a cause of national scandal, but also to assure the rights of the voters, that Russell endeavoured to purify methods of electioneering. Many others, also, realized that because of corruption as well as through the com-