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Abstract

This dissertation analyzes and refines the extra-parliamentary basis of popular politics in early nineteenth century Britain through the lens of the debates on surplus population and emigration. It asks whether civil society, influenced by the liberal writings of politicians and political economists, was a potent enough movement to address issues such as population pressure and assisted emigration in a time of crisis. Chapter one charts Britain’s transition from agricultural to industrial society and provides context for one potential pathway through the crisis—that of emigration. Chapter two focuses on intellectuals associated with review journals and their role in disseminating, popularizing, and bureaucratizing plans to alleviate the nation’s depressed state. It argues that these journals grabbed the public’s attention by contributing to the shared space of debate that included newspapers, pamphlets, and petitions. Chapters three and four examine the contribution of Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834) to extra-parliamentary debates on emigration. This fresh perspective on Malthus suggests that Malthusian ideology dominated the conversation on emigration. It also reveals that Malthus’s participation in the Select Committee on Emigration (1827) added legitimacy to proceedings that Robert Wilmot-Horton (1784 -1841), undersecretary of state for war and the colonies, needed in order to garner support for his emigration scheme. Chapter five is a case study of Anglo-Irish statesman Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington (1758-1853). It finds that his pragmatic approach to the nations concerns point to his familiarity and involvement with extra-parliamentary and parliamentary debates. Overall, this dissertation contends that extra-parliamentary politics—operating through agents that included journalists, liberal intellectuals, and appointed officials—was a necessary force that pushed issues to the forefront of public debate, oftentimes long before their official discussion in government circles and consideration for adoption into legislation.

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