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Reform League

Reform League, 1865–9. The Reform League was established in 1865 to press for manhood suffrage and the ballot. The president was Edmond Beales and the secretary George Howell, and more than 400 branches were formed. It collaborated with the more moderate and middle-class Reform Union and its parliamentary spokesmen included Gladstone and John Bright. It gave strong support to Russell's bill in 1866 and the Hyde Park riots, a by-product of the mass protest meetings in July 1866, helped to push through Disraeli's second Reform Act. The League ran parliamentary candidates at the general election of 1868 but with little success and was dissolved in March 1869. Historians dispute whether popular pressure was decisive or whether the second Reform Act was the outcome of high political manœuvring.

J. A. Cannon

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