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Essay/Term paper: The city of today

Essay, term paper, research paper:  History

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Glorious, glorious England. As the Empire spreads some say "so does its

glory"; others mumble of the price which we pay for our greatness. Many

of us Londoners have read, if not discussed, the intriguing debate

transpiring between Sir Andrew Ure and Sir James Phillips Kay. Are the

cities of great England truly representative of the jewels in Her

Majesty's Crown? Or are they the stain of exploitation and abuse that

some have proclaimed?

Sir James Phillips Kay, an M.D. at Edinburgh and the Secretary

to the Manchester Board of Health, has recently published a work titled,

"The Moral And Physical Conditions of the Working-Class Employed in

Cotton Manufacturing in Manchester." (Kay/Ure Debate, Handout) He

argues quite persuasively about those poor wretches living in the most

hideous of conditions. Half the blame he attributes to the Irish and

the other half to the environment of an industrialised city. The

Irish immigrants have brought to Manchester a system called "cottier

farming". Sir James argues that this system is responsible for the

"demoralisation and barbarism" of the working-class. If that is not bad

enough, the potato has been introduced as a main article of food.

Influenced by the Irish subsistence living, the working-class are

abandoning those values which promote increasing comfort. They

seemingly have given up the hope of betterment and adopted hopelessness.

Sir James does well in his description of the living conditions

of the working class is living in. The mere thought of such suffering

and misery is shocking to the soul.

The problem Kay argues, is caused by combinations of poor living

and working conditions, lack of education, influence by a lesser culture

and the presence of great immorality. This recently published work is

a plea to the Capitalist, to convince him to concern himself with his

("The City" continued) Vol.2

Page 2



Andrew Mearns, another prominent fellow on these matters goes

into even greater detail in his work, "The Bitter Cry of Outcast

London". Making a study of our city, he has reported, with astonishing

detail, that the filth present in Manchester can be found in this city!

Mr. Mearns makes his argument to the church in his call to unite

and fight this growing misery together. He cites examples of

immorality, poverty and heart-breaking misery. His call also addresses

the need for the state to intervene on the behalf of the organisations

trying to elevate the working-classes' misery.

What can be done for the motherless children, diseased and

ailing siblings and the poor forced into thievery for filthy lucre?

Nothing! Yes, that is correct. We are to do nothing. Sir

Andrew Ure, an M.D., who teaches in the university at Glasgow is a

proponent of this controversial mind set. Traveling to these various

"terrible" places, Sir Andrew came to a completely different


First, the workers suffering is being greatly exaggerated. Upon


these "horror zones" (factories), both on announced and unannounced

visits, no such extremes were found. Instead of the finding the bleak

picture Sir James and Mr. Mearns painted, Ure found something quite the

opposite. Children play outside in playgrounds during their breaks, and

factories provide a safe haven for the children from the ill-use of

their bad parents.

Second, the terrible food situation is an exaggeration as well.

The amount of food given to the factory workers is sufficient. It is

comparable, if not surpassing to that food consumed in the rural

communities from where the working class came from.

What is to be the conclusion of this bitter argument? one thing

is certain, the Kay/Ure debate will continue with us as long as we have

factories with a working class. This much can be assured.

19th Century Evangelical Christianity In England

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in

the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 28:19

Religion was an important facet of the British Victorian

society. It molded public opinion, dictated morals and values, and

created social divisions. The dominant religion of the middle-class

during this time was Evangelical Christianity. This essay will discuss

the relationship between Evangelicalism and the middle-class. It will

also argue how Evangelicalism affected the attitudes towards different

races and the role of the British empire in the world.

Evangelicalism was the strongest ideological influence present

in the Victorian Age. This religious movement , a product of the Church

of England, was mainly comprised of the middle-class bourgeoisie. In

addition, the leadership of the Evangelical movement was greatly

influential in politics. As high-ranking members of the Whig party,

they played a crucial part in both policy making in the government and

establishing the party's power base.1

The most important leaders of the Evangelicals were the Clapham

Sect. They had two basic issues which acted as both a political

platform and a social order. The first issue concerned the abolition of

slavery and the slave trade in England. Many political battles were

fought over the issue of slavery and its trade, but its abolition in the

early 1800s was a great political and social victory for the


The second issue was its was the Evangelical transformation of

national morality. Catharine Hall argued that in the Clapham sect the

"concern was to redefine the available cultural norms and to encourage a

new seriousness and respectability in life."3 This issue was supported

and propagated as if it were a political campaign. Pamphlets, the media

and church sermons in church were used to spread this word.

The greatest influence of Evangelicalism was on the British

society itself. It set standards for defining family and home-life. A

crucial aspect of Evangelicalism was its definition of a woman's role in

society. They defined a women as a homemaker, a wife and a mother.

Detailed instructions on how to become a good "mistress" were easily

accessible. An excellent example of this was the writings of Isabella

Beeton. She went into detail about what attitudes and habits a mistress

should have. Mrs. Beeton argued that "there is no more fruitful source

of family discontent than a housewife's badly-cooked dinners and untidy


The Evangelicals rejected the notion of equality between the

sexes. This Evangelical belief stemmed from a fundamental difference in

the position of men and women. They were "naturally distinct".5

Evangelical doctrine also argued that, although a woman should be

educated, it is for the sole purpose of making her a better wife and


This idea of sexual equity and other radical ideas emerged from

France even before the infamous Revolution took place. The ideology

coming from France both before and after the revolution was never

accepted in England. The English bourgeoisie used the evangelical ideas

to combat the foreign influence of the French

Another important sphere of influence to Evangelicalism was the

home. This arena was viewed as the building block of British society

and culture. If national morality was to be changed, and in some cases

created, then morality must be taught at home. The home "was one place

where attempts could be made to curb sin."7

Evangelicalism was not merely a national fad. As the Clapham

Sect and other influential politicians began their campaign for the

abolition of slavery, the slave trade was also targeted. This created

the need for international intervention. It was not enough that slavery

was to cease being a legal commodity of labor, or to be viewed as

immoral. The entire industry of the slave trade was immoral. It was

seen as a infringement on the individuals natural rights. In the book,

White Dreams In Black Africa, the British empire began to target the

African tradesmen who sold the slaves for Christianization. The plan

was to export the greatest gift the English could give, thus creating a

moral society, educated, and most importantly, the elimination of the

slave trade. This gift was Evangelical Christianity.

Africa was not the only target for evangelism. The Irish, who

were predominantly catholic, united with England January 1, 1801. This

unification caused Irish culture to be spread abroad in the working

class of England. This spread of Irish influence was described by James

Phillips Kay as, "debased alike by ignorance and pauperism".8 He blamed

the penetration of British culture by Irish values as the cause for the

debauchery and immorality in the working class. This posed as a

proverbial splinter in the lion's paw for the evangelicals. This was

brought to the attention of the middle-class moralists, which tried even

harder to "persuade" their moral standards on the Irish.

This persuasion came about by the merging of the Church of

England with the Catholic Church of Ireland. The national church was

Anglican by denomination and protestant. Needless to say, the Irish

were not happy with the arrangements nor with the tithe that they were

required to pay.9

In conclusion, England during its Victorian Age was tremendously

influenced by religion. This influence dominated the society and

culture of Britain. Its effect can be traced from the home and family

life to the heirachy of the Parliament. The relationship between

Evangelicalism and the English middle-class was strong. It also affected

the Empire's attitudes towards other races of people and defined some of

its foreign policy concerning the slave trade.

Ireland and England in the Active Union 1801-1920

January 1, 1801 Ireland joined with Britain in what is called

the Active Union. The Active Union was an attempt of both states to

integrate themselves on a political level. This union lasted

approximately 120 years and was wrought with constant turmoil. A common

term used by British Members of Parliament was the "Irish question", or

what to do with the Irish. The real question, however, concerned the

identity of Ireland. Was Ireland a Integral part of Britain or another

British colony? An analysis of this union revealed three basic areas of

contention that shed light on this topic: politics, religion and

economics. These areas show that parity between the two states was

never achieved. This essay will address the question of identity in

the special case of Ireland and its engagement with Britain during the

Active Union.

The political problem of the Active Union was the unequal nature

of the agreement. Both parliaments passed the amendment which

stipulated a dissolving of the Irish parliament. Upon this elimination

of the Irish parliament, 100 elected M.P.s were sent to England for

Irish representation. Parliament consisted of 615 members and required

majority voting for bills to be passed. The Irish were proclaimed to

be equal partners, but, in reality, were grossly out-numbered. However,

no other colony possessed direct representation of its people in


The British law stated that only protestants were allowed to sit

for government. Ireland's population was 80 percent catholic and 20

percent protestant. This restriction of representation of the religious

majority in Ireland furthered the inequality of the union. Ireland's

true political desires were neither voiced nor given much attention.

In the Empire the head of government and most of the local

government administrations were British and protestant. The English

never attempted to make the Irish, English citizens, which would have

given them equality in the Empire. In fact, the common British

interpretation of their relationship with Ireland was understood in

terms of occupation.

These facts identified a severe disparity between the two

states. The political aspects clearly pointed to a unique form of

colonization of Ireland which was established with Ireland's consent.

Thus, Ireland as a political entity was, by all means and purposes, a

colony of England.

The area of Religion related directly to society . Religion

helped form national identity, social order and morals/ethics. As

previously stated Ireland's population was predominantly catholic. Upon

merging, parliament voted that the "national" church of the two states

was to be the Church of England. This specific church was of the

Anglican Denomination and protestant. As a result, the Irish population

was subjected to mass conversion by the English. Further, the Church of

England imposed a tithe on the Irish peasantry. This behavior was

categorized as belligerent and was not congruent with the concept of

equal partnership. To force religion or any other ideal on a society

does not promote peace nor does it exemplify equality.

The economic relationship between Ireland and England was

severely unbalanced. Ireland's economy is 80 percent agrarian. The

Active Union caused no growth in the Irish Industrial sector. In fact,

Irish industrial production, per capita, receded. Creating a free trade

zone, which had been done by the Active Union agreement, put the ailing

Irish industry into direct competition with England's enormous

industrial sector.

Ireland joined the English empire voluntarily, assuming there

would be an equitable relationship between the two states. The

relationship was to provide political parity, religious cooperation and

a mutual economic boom. Consequently, Ireland was reduced to colonial

status by superior British power. Ireland was consider to be a colony

of England politically, religiously and economically. The result of

this union was 120 years of constant political strife and the eventual

separation of the two states.


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