History is all about ‘the historian’s interpretation of the past.’
In writing a successful essay you should aim to achieve;
Balance – make sure you tackle all aspects of the question Breadth – use plenty of sources
Depth – consider each point in full and substantiate the arguments with factual evidence.
This booklet provides an up to date Historiography which should prove very useful to you in writing your higher history essays. It is written for higher students at Marr College who wish to extend their knowledge and understanding of the subject under study.
This booklet attempts to summarise historian’s views and interpretations of events which will be studied in the Higher course. You should try and include the relevant quotes when writing your higher essay answers. Inclusion of such material will give your essay answer greater weight, authority and breadth.
You can also create debate within your essay by using different historian’s views/interpretations of the same event. By creating debate and conflict within your answer you will hopefully achieve the right balance between narrative and discussion.
The booklet tries to establish an overall picture of some of the main historian’s views/interpretations of the British topic. This booklet has the advantage of focusing your attention on relevant material and ensures efficient reading, and use of your time.
Read the selection of historical comments which follow, understand, and use to arrive at your own assessment, in your essay answers.
“True democracy is government ‘for’, as well as ‘of’ and ‘by’ the people.” R. Pearce
The Significance of the 1832 Reform Act.
“The Reform Act placed the feet of the nation firmly in the direction of democracy.” J. R. M. Butler. (1914)
“The Reform Act was no more than a clumsy hacking at the old structure to make it roughly more acceptable.” Gash (1979)
“The Reform Act did not represent any real advance towards democracy.” Vernon (1993)
Situation in 1850
“By 1850 there was increased urbanisation, industrialisation and general social change, yet the government of the country was carried out by the middle and upper classes and was elected by a small minority of the population.” D. Morrison
Pressure for Reform in 1860’s.
“The artisans (skilled workers) are almost to man red hot politicians.”
“The artisans are sufficiently educated and thoughtful to have a sense of their importance in the state.”
“The unskilled workers... appear to have no political opinions whatever.” Henry Mayhew journalist (1861-62)
“It may be that the American Civil War encouraged renewed discussion of political rights.” S. Wood
Significance of 1867 Reform Act
“The 1867 Act led to a significant widening of the borough franchise, bringing within the ‘pale of the constitution’ many working class men who had previously been considered unfit for involvement in political life.” B. Whitefield
1872 Secret Ballot Act
Not all were in favour of this act.
“The motives under which men act in secret are, as a general rule, inferior to those under which men act in public.” David L. Keir
“The workers were now able to use their vote freely without fear of reprisals from employer or landlord. Public opinion came to be more of a reality in politics.” D. Thomson
Where voters were very numerous the secret ballot made a difference. “Since the passing of the Ballot Act we have never had the slightest trouble at any election that has taken place in London.” Chief Commissioner of Police 1874.
Third Reform Act 1884
Has been described by some as
“A bold and logical measure granting manhood suffrage in town and country alike.” T. C. Smout
“Parliament would have to govern the country with an eye to the interests and wishes of the majority of the people.” Cole and Postgate
“The act left some...
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