Robert Peel

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Peel, Robert

 

Born Feb. 5, 1788, in Bury, Lancashire; died July 2, 1850, in London. British statesman.

In 1809, Peel was elected to Parliament as a member of the Tory Party. From 1812 to 1818 he was chief secretary for Ireland and was a proponent of repression of those involved in the peasant disturbances. From 1822 to 1827 and from 1828 to 1830 he was home secretary. Peel headed the group of so-called moderate Tories, who advocated certain economic concessions to the commercial and industrial bourgeoisie while maintaining the political supremacy of the big landowners and financiers. In April 1829, under pressure from the growing national liberation movement in Ireland, he carried through a bill for the emancipation of Catholics, which gave Catholics the right to vote.

Peel was prime minister from 1834 to 1835 and from 1841 to 1846. In 1844 he put through an act establishing a firm rate of exchange between bullion and paper currency. Implementing the program of the free traders, in June 1846 he carried through the repeal of the corn laws, which was in the interest of the industrial bourgeoisie and which resulted in reduced tariffs on imports of many foodstuffs and raw materials. His measures provoked the sharp dissatisfaction of the protectionist Tories and led to a split in the Tory Party. Partisans of Peel (Peelites) joined the Whig Party, which was transformed in the mid-19th century and given the name Liberal Party.

REFERENCES

Sir Robert Peel: From His Private Papers, vols. 1–3. Edited by C. S. Parker. New York, 1970.
Gash, N. Politics in the Age of Peel. New York, 1971.