The Anti-Corn Law League

If there are turning points in history, the Repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, and the adoption of Free Trade, represented such a moment in Britain. By peaceful means, writes W.H. Chaloner, the new industrial forces in the nation had triumphed over the old landed interests.

It is now well over a century since the Com Laws were repealed, but interest in the struggle to which they gave rise still remains unabated. The reasons are fairly obvious. Historians have suggested many events as ‘turning points in history’; but informed contemporary opinion immediately recognized the repeal of the Corn Laws as a turning point more important than most.

Secondly, the repeal of the Corn Laws and the adoption of Free Trade as the official creed of the British Government in the 1850’s and 1860’s formed perhaps the most systematic application of a rational economic theory to the commercial and industrial concerns of a nation that has ever been witnessed.1

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