Bright, John


British Quaker, Liberal & Radical reform MP 1843-89, joined with Cobden to repeal Corn Laws

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Autograph ID: 4237
Condition: Very good, slight tear at top, back flap with small tear
Description: “(1811-1889) British Quaker, Radical & Liberal statesman, associated with Richard Cobden in the formation of the Anti-Corn Law League. MP 1843-89, one of the greatest orators of his generation. Quaker beliefs shaped his politics, which consisted mainly of demands for an end to social, political, or religious inequalities between peoples. While in his 20s, he had led a successful campaign in Rochdale, his home, against the payment of compulsory taxes for the Anglican Church. When the Anti-Corn-Law League was formed in 1839 he became one of the leading members and worked closely with Richard Cobden in the campaign for the repeal of the Corn Laws. By 1841 he emerged as the chief supporting speaker to Cobden. He became MP for Durham in 1843 and for Manchester in 1847. He spoke against the Corn Laws in Parliament during Peel’s 2nd ministry until the laws were repealed in 1846. For 5 years, Cobden & Bright spoke together frequently all over the country. Bright was a member of the Peace Society and denounced the Crimean War (1854-56) as un-Christian, contrary to the principles of international free trade, and harmful to British interests. Frustrated at his failure to stop the war, he suffered a severe nervous breakdown (1856-58). His anti-war views also helped to lose him his Manchester seat in 1857, but within a few months he was elected as an MP for Birmingham, which he represented for the rest of his life. He seconded the motion against the Conspiracy Bill that led to the fall of Palmerston’s government. Bright pressed for less-authoritarian British rule in India before and after the Indian Mutiny (1857), and strongly supported the Union against the slave-owning Confederacy during the American Civil War. Bright launched a speech-making campaign for parliamentary reform in Birmingham at the end of 1858 that marked the beginning of the movement toward the reform agitation of the mid-1860s. During the 2nd half of 1866 Bright was the hero and chief mouthpiece of the reformers, accepted by those who demanded universal suffrage and those who wanted more limited reform. In terms of immediate influence this was the high point of his career. In 1868 Bright accepted the post of President of the Board of Trade in Gladstone’s 1st ministry but retired through ill-health in 1870. He returned to political life in 1881 as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He retired in 1882 because he opposed Gladstone’s Home Rule policy for Ireland. Bright was not prepared to see power given to Irish nationalists who had made a mockery of parliamentary government and was influential in the Unionist group in Parliament.

2 ¾ x 4 ¾ envelope addressed in Bright’s hand to Wm. W. Jones, St. John’s College, Oxford, signed by Bright while Member of Parliament at lower left. One penny stamp postmarked Rochdale (Lancashire, Bright’s home), May 7 1859 at top right, red wax seal extant on verso. William West Jones (1838-1908) 2nd Bishop and 1st Archbishop of Cape Town. Educated at St. John’s College, Oxford (Fellow, 1859–79). Made Deacon 1861, and Priest in 1862, by the Bishop of Oxford. He returned to Oxford in 1864 as Dean of Arts of St. John’s College, and Vicar of the parish of Summertown, Vice-President of St. John’s College 1872. He was chosen as 2nd Bishop of Cape Town and ipso facto Metropolitan of the Church of the Province of South Africa, and consecrated as such in Westminster Abbey in 1874, and enthroned by the Dean of Cape Town. He adopted additional title of Archbishop of Cape Town in 1897.

The 1815-46 Corn Laws were trade barriers designed to protect British & Irish cereal producers against competition from less expensive foreign imports. The Corn Laws enhanced the profits and political power of landowners and their abolition marked a significant step towards free trade.”
Type: Signed Envelope

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