corn laws

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corn laws

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 Following a campaign by the Anti-Corn-Law League, the corn laws were repealed by the Conservative government of Sir Robert Peel in 1846, despite the opposition of many of his own party, led by Lord George Bentinck and Benjamin Disraeli.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 were 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).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Tories then split over repealing Corn Laws that protected British agriculture from cheap imports, creating the Liberals.
The emancipation of Roman Catholics, the Great Reform Act and the Repeal of the Corn Laws are typical examples where he flew in the face of his own party's policies.
May is not haunted by the Iraq War of 2003 when, despite the biggest rebellion since the Corn Laws, a Labour government won a vote to go to war with Saddam Hussein.
At the time, the West Indies was Britain's most profitable colony, and the sugar trade was unaffected by the post-Waterloo depression, the banking crisis, and the Corn Laws. Britain's annual profit from the West Indies was a total of 50,740,470 [pounds sterling] (Colquhoun 87); in comparison, the annual profit from all of Canada was only 13,215,474 [pounds sterling].
While his theory focused on country-level gains to abolish the Corn Laws, it says nothing about income inequality within a country.
In 1846 Peel won bipartisan support to repeal England's Corn Laws, burdensome tariffs on imported grain.
news, Robert Peel has repealed the Corn Laws and quit as Prime Minister.
This epitomises the concept of forgetting the lessons from history, as the CAP is simply a repeat of the Corn Laws in the nineteenth century.
For example, the repeal of the Corn Laws in the United Kingdom in 1846 favored a free market in international trade and accelerated globalization until the outbreak of World War I.
Geach was deeply involved in the campaign to repeal the Corn Laws. This '.' Geach was deeply involved in the campaign to repeal the Corn Laws.
(2) Indeed, the Corn Laws had always been a very hot subject.