- Corn Laws
- (1804, 1815)British statutes that controlled the import and export of grains, the word corn being commonly used to denote a variety of basic food grains. The effect of the tariff on imports was to raise the price of food, but the 1804 law did not raise prohibitive opposition because of Britain’s struggle against the Continental System. The Corn Law of 1815, however, was passed after the final defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte and was widely viewed as a duty to restrict the import of grain to protect the economic interests of the large landowners who dominated Parliament. Because it guaranteed enormous profits to agriculture while raising the price of food to the wage laborers of an industrializing economy, agitation against the 1815 Corn Law linked industrial interests and workers in a campaign for free trade and greater democracy. With the creation of the Anti-Corn Law League in 1839, Liberal reformers such as Richard Cobden tied their attack on protectionism to demands for both economic and constitutional reforms in Britain itself and in Britain’s trading relationship with its empire.FURTHER READING:Barnes, Donald Grove. A History of the English Corn Laws, 1660-1846. New York: A. M. Kelly, 1965.CARL CAVANAGH HODGE
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.