‘Explain why Lord Liverpool’s Government followed reactionary policies in the years 1815-1821.’
In 1812, after the Napoleonic wars, Britain was left in a state of great economic depression and was in debt of around £834 million, despite moral being high after Victory against Napoleon. Lord Liverpool and his government faced the momentous task of carrying Britain through a time of depression but also keeping up with the vast industrialisation that was spreading across the country.
In early 19th century Britain, law enforcement e.g. the police, was unheard of, this was a problem for Lord Liverpool’s government due to the fact that there was no physical means of controlling activity on a public level. When rebellions began to take place and started occurring more frequently Liverpool decided that something needed to be done. As a response, particularly to Spa fields, Liverpool imposed the ‘Suspension of Habeas Corpus’ in 1817. This suspension along with the Seditious meetings act worked as a short-term deterrent to protesters and due to its severity of punishment, meant that it was particularly effective at stopping any form of revolt.
The physical protesting was bad enough for Lord Liverpool, however it was only small part of why he imposed reactionary measure; a large part of it was down to fear and paranoia. In 1789 Lord Liverpool had been in France and witnessed firsthand the storming of the Bastille. The fall of the Bastille signified the fall of order, power and structure of the hierarchy in France; this was exactly what Liverpool was most afraid of happening in England, and that people would turn against the government the country and each other. In 1819 60,000 people met at ‘Peterloo’ to listen to Henry Hunt talk about reforms, it was a peaceful protest that went wrong. Cavalry had been sent by magistrates who feared there would be a revolution due to the sheer amount of people, magistrates lost their nerve and sent in the cavalry causing major panic...
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