Rebecca Riots

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  • Topic: Wales, Welsh people, Toll road
  • Pages : 12 (4946 words )
  • Download(s) : 266
  • Published : March 24, 2013
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“Rebecca had won a substantial victory! I t had succeeded in removing most of the under lying grievances.” How valid is this assessment of the Rebecca movement in west Wales? The assessment above, written by historian David Williams, is fair and somewhat accurate in my opinion. The Rebecca rioters, in West Wales between the years 1839-1843, did manage to resolve the main issue of tax for use of the toll roads. The rioters also proved to be somewhat more than a disorganised rabble due to publicity from International and national newspapers at the time. This could have been a key issue in why the government decided to reform the toll gate tax. However other historians, such as Graham Longster, do not agree with the above statement. Although the tax was reformed, the issues of poor living conditions and the wide spread poverty were not resolved or improved by the actions of the rioters. Historians who disagree with the statement that quotes the riots were a success, like Graham Longster, argue that the majority of welsh people were trapped in poverty by the mainly English land owners like the owners of the Turn Pike Trust, and that the riots should have been the beginning for wide scale change and improvement in living conditions. Wales as a whole in the 19th century was largely reliant on its coal and iron production which was a very lucrative business, however almost all of the profits went to the land and company owners such as Marquess of Bute. Due to this the workers were paid very low amounts, decreasing the overall living standards of welsh people. Early on in the 1830s, there were wide spread movements similar the Rebecca riots, proving that the riots were not an isolated incident. Movements like Chartism were popular, calling for bigger wide spread change, and in many cases this ended in violent protests Such as the Newport rising I 1939. Wales bore the brunt of the poverty, due to lack of jobs and poor wages for those few jobs, but England also had its fair share of uprisings, which again included Chartism. Large numbers of violent protests broke out due to the poverty and living conditions. The government were not showing any sign of solving the problem and revolution was being talked about. Protests in Wales became increasingly violent, a good example of this was the Merthyr rising in 1831, where the ironworkers and there families took control of the town for four days, the town was eventually took back by the use of large numbers of soldiers. I believe that this uprising captured the mood of the majority of people living in Great Britain at the time. The fact that a whole town held its own miniature revolution showed that the people and the times were beginning to get increasingly dispread for change. Society had changed and people of Britain wanted fast improvements by any means. At the time there were different views on the riots and how successful they were. The view by the Marxists (communist) was and is that the riots were a joke and so did not take them seriously; they promoted the idea that the only way for change was full political revolution. This believe is shadowed in the writings of modern day historian G A Williams and writing of Fredrich Engles (co-author of the communist manifesto), Who support the view that the Rebecca riots were unsuccessful and revolution is the only way to get political change. The other side of the argument is with the liberals and their views. The liberal view of the Rebecca riots is and was that they were a complete success as they achieved their goal in gaining an enquiry which ended in the reform of the toll gate tax, as appose to the chartists who did not achieve anything of significance. A modern day historian who supports this liberal view is David Williams, he argues that the reason the Rebecca riots were a success was due to the fact that the rioters got their goal as a result of peaceful means. To allow my final answer to the question to be accurate I will...
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