By the 1830s it seemed that the paternalism of the Regency period was slowly being undermined by the reforming utilitarians, evangelists, and free traders. The enactment of the great Reform Act, the repeal of the Corn Laws, the ending of the East India Company’s monopoly, and the gradual introduction of “responsible government” in Canada, the Cape, and Australia appeared to mark stages on this transition to a new régime that enshrined the ideas of the great political economists. But this view of a glorious age of liberal reform needs some modification. The Reform Bill, for example, hardly marked the triumph of the bourgeoisie; in fact, in many ways the power and influence of the aristocracy were strengthened by the deference shown to its members by the professional and industrial middle class. Land ownership was still the measure of status.
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