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THERE still remains one main topic to be followed up from the mid-nineteenth century to our own times; the development of social conditions during three generations of economic change, working-class endeavour, and Parliamentary legislation.

As always, we find a number of forces working sometimes in harmony, sometimes in opposition; the ups and downs of trade, which we have already studied, change people's attitude towards the possibilities of reform, rising and falling prices often make more difference to the standard of living than wage agreements or legislation, and towards the end of our period it grows harder and harder to distinguish between the economic side of the working-class movement - the Trade Unions and Cooperatives - and the political, which we cannot treat in detail.

But provided we remember the main facts of the economic background during these years the social development which accompanied them is not really difficult to understand.

The Collapse of the 'Thirties.

We left the working-class movement at the end of a short but clearly marked phase - that of revolutionary Trade Unionism, which found its expression in Robert Owen's Grand National and whose activities were so disastrously crowned by the Tolpuddle Labourers' case.

That was back in 1834.

Thereafter, for nearly twenty years, the Trade Union movement proper was stagnant.

A little wreckage was saved from the Grand National, but no important new developments occurred.

Working-class discontent and aspirations, meanwhile, had found two new outlets - on the one hand, Chartism, pre-dominantly political, revolutionary in method, fizzling out after terrifying solid and respectable citizens for a decade; on the other, the CO-operative Movement, starting quite unnoticed for all its ultimate importance.

Read more on - The Manor In Theory

Banking Development

There was change and development, too, in the practice of banks and financial houses.

For one thing, the volume of money which the banks held had increased enormously - one estimate (no exact figures are available) puts the growth of deposits at from %pound;200 to %pound;800 million between 1856 and 1878.

For another, the links between the joint-stock banks and the Bank of England had been strengthened; joint-stock banks' deposits with the Bank of England had risen from just under %pound;1 million in 1844 to over %pound;10 million in 1876.

No major changes in the law took place after the Bank Charter Act of... see: Banking Development

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