corn laws

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corn laws,

regulations restricting the export and import of grain, particularly in England. As early as 1361 export was forbidden in order to keep English grain cheap. Subsequent laws, numerous and complex, forbade export unless the domestic price was low and forbade import unless it was high. The purpose of the laws was to assure a stable and sufficient supply of grain from domestic sources, eliminating undue dependence on foreign supplies, yet allowing for imports in time of scarcity. The corn law of 1815 was designed to maintain high prices and prevent an agricultural depression after the Napoleonic Wars. Consumers and laborers objected, but it was the criticism of manufacturers that the laws hampered industrialization by subsidizing agriculture that proved most effective. Following a campaign by the Anti-Corn-Law LeagueAnti-Corn-Law League,
organization formed in 1839 to work for the repeal of the English corn laws. It was an affiliation of groups in various cities and districts with headquarters at Manchester and was an outgrowth of the smaller Manchester Anti-Corn-Law Association.
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, the corn laws were repealed by the Conservative government of Sir Robert Peel in 1846, despite the opposition of many of his own party, led by Lord George Bentinck and Benjamin Disraeli. With the revival of protectionism in the 20th cent., new grain restriction laws have been passed, but they have not been as extensive as those of earlier times.


See D. G. Barnes, A History of English Corn Laws from 1660 to 1846 (1930, repr. 1965); N. Longmate, The Breadstealers (1984).

Corn Laws


the general term for the British laws that, from the 15th to 19th centuries, regulated the import and export of grain and other agricultural products (chiefly through the imposition of high import and low export duties). The net effect of the Corn Laws was to limit the agricultural products available on the domestic market and to increase the products’ prices; the laws thus served the interests of the big landowners and helped preserve the system of landlordism.

During the 19th century the demand for the repeal of the Corn Laws became a slogan of the strengthened industrial bourgeoisie, which sought to weaken the economic and political position of the landed aristocracy and to expand its own influence. The anti-Corn Law movement was an integral part of the industrial bourgeoisie’s struggle to introduce free trade (see). In 1846 the British government, despite opposition from the landlords, carried a bill through Parliament repealing the Corn Laws; according to K. Marx, repeal of the laws was the “greatest triumph free trade achieved in the 19th century” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 4, p. 404).

References in periodicals archive ?
Disraeli had made his name by attacking Peel for his betrayal, but Disraeli never seriously contemplated bringing back the Corn Laws once he had become prime minister himself.
In the run up to Waterloo there were food riots on the streets of London, while a ring of steel was put up around Parliament to protect MPs and peers from a mob protesting against the passage of the Corn Law legislation.
From his new seat in Birmingham, Bright led the campaign for the vote for the working class and household suffrage which culminated in his driving Disraeli to the Reform Act of 1867, no less than he had driven Peel to the repeal of the Corn Laws.
Racing people are a conservative bunch, with many still bemoaning the Repeal of the Corn Laws and the end of National Service.
In fact as the South Wales Echo reported accurately at the time, Kevin was among 139 Labour MPs who voted against going to war in Iraq in the biggest governing party revolt since the Corn Laws, more than 150 years ago.
Knick Harley's essay in The Cambridge History on "Trade, Discovery, Mercantilism and Technology" briefly discusses repeal of the Corn Laws while Ottaway relates reform to poor laws.
He was a leading opponent of England's Corn Laws of 1815, which barred food imports.
Dylife,between Machynlleth and Llanidloes,once thrived on metal mining, with the settlement once owned by social reformers Cobden and Bright, who abolished the corn laws The mountains around the town, include its famous gorge,are popular with walkers n It is the site of one of the most horrific murders in Welsh history, when a blacksmith murdered his family and threw their bodies down a mineshaft.
This reviewer found his share within a span of just eight pages: The English Corn Laws were abrogated in 1846, not in the 1830s; estancias are large cattle ranches, not "commercial haciendas"; in 1914, 51 percent (not 60 to 70 percent) of the population in Buenos Aires and 41 percent (not 30 percent) of the population in New York was foreign born.
But it was Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations which had supplied the most devastatingly effective and justly famous critique of the Corn Laws.
Even when women became involved in issues as divisive as the Corn Laws, their male supporters went out of their way to portray their actions as founded upon a straightforward moral decision, even while they launched appeals to feminine sympathy based on personal or class interest.
Their seven-year campaign achieved victory in 1846 with the repeal of the Corn Laws and the elimination of all duties on imported grains.