Study Topic 2: The Age of Gladstone & Disraeli, 1865 1886

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Study Topic 2: The Age of Gladstone & Disraeli, 1865 – 1886

Key Issues

  • How far did Gladstone’s First Ministry pass significant reforms?

  • To what extent was Disraeli a genuine social reformer?

  • How far did Gladstone succeed in solving the problems of Ireland?

  • How far were the foreign & imperial policies of Gladstone & Disraeli in British interests?

How far did Gladstone’s First Ministry pass significant domestic reforms?

Some of Gladstone’s principles & aims:

  • A committed Christian – he was Anglican but gradually became more sensitive towards Non-conformists & Catholics.

  • Free trade & laissez faire – attitudes inherited from Peel

  • Peace in foreign policy

  • To gain support for the Liberals & hold them together

Domestic reforms
Education Act 1870

The 1867 reform act gave the vote to industrial workers living in boroughs, & it was felt that they now needed an education for them to decide on their vote. Also, Gladstone believed in ‘equality in opportunity for everyone’, as well as pressure from Chamberlain’s National Education League.

Hence, along came the Education Act which tried to create a compromise between Non-conformists & Anglicans.

  • Existing Anglican/Non-conformist voluntary schools were allowed to continue, with increased grants.

  • In other areas, locally elected School Boards had to be set up to organise schools for children aged 5 to 12.

  • Religious teaching was to be ‘nondenominational’ – shouldn’t be taught with a Non-conformist/Anglican bias.

Non-conformists = annoyed, felt that Gladstone had yielded too much pressure from the church schools.

Anglicans = also annoyed – no longer have total power in schools.

University Tests Act 1871

Only Anglicans could become teachers or members of the administration, or to hold fellowships at Oxbridge. For Gladstone, this was total injustice.

The Act simply opened up teaching posts & fellowships to Non-conformists.

Anglicans = strong opposition, feared of the ‘moral consequences’.

Non-conformists = very satisfied with change & erosions of the Church of England’s power.
Civil Service Reform 1871

Appointments were made according to recommendations from an MP or peer. It depended on who the candidate knew & ended up with lots of lazy & incompetent people.

Gladstone, along with Robert Lowe (Chancellor) introduced the principle that recruitment must be by examination. This opened up Civil Service to the best brains in the country.

The aristocracy bitterly opposed this.

Edward Cardwell’s army reforms

Like the Civil Service, officers were not acquired on merit, but on the purchase of commissions. Edward Cardwell (Secretary for War) was responsible for planning the reforms.

  • Troops were withdrawn from colonies across the Empire, which were encouraged to raise their own forces.

  • Purchase of commissions was abolished.

  • Length of service reduced from 12 years by a period in the reserves to 6 years overseas & 6 years in the reserves.

  • The Martini-Henry breech loading rifle was introduced as the main infantry.

  • Regiments were reorganised & Britain was divided into 69 districts.

Again, there was much opposition form the aristocracy as their privileges were threatened.

However, also a great success as more humane & civilised conditions of service encouraged a better type of recruit, as well as a large & efficient reserve.

Trade Union reform 1871

The privileges & powers of trade unions had never been precisely defined.

  • The Trade Union Act gave the right to strike, as well as recognising unions as legal bodies with rights to own property & funds. Trade unionists were originally pleased with this, until the second measure:

  • The Criminal Law Amendment Act stated that although unions could strike, picketing was forbidden. In practise, it would be impossible to make a strike effective. This Act lost Gladstone a lot of working class support.

The Ballot Act 1872

Voting was carried out in public by show of hands: a system that lent to bribery & corruption.

Gladstone’s Act made voting secret. Yet this didn’t totally remove bribery & corruption.

The Ballot Act was unpopular with landlords & employers, who could no longer control the way their tenants & workers voted.

The Licensing Act 1872

Widespread drunkenness was one of the striking features of mid 19th century Britain. Gladstone & Henry Bruce (Home secretary) looked upon this as a moral issue & felt there were too many public houses & that the huge profit made by the brewers should be controlled. Brewers got very angry over this, so the final act was very mild:

  • Pubs had to close at midnight & 11pm in country areas.

  • Magistrates were given the power to issue licenses for openings of public houses.

  • The adulteration of beer was forbidden (previously salt used to be added to the beer, to increase the drinkers’ thirst).

Highly unpopular with the working class, however mild it was in the end. Brewers saw it as an attack on their independence & profits.

Why did the Liberals lose the 1874 general election?
Unpopularity of the Liberal reforms

  • outraged the upper & wealthy classes, whose privileges had been attacked.

  • Many Anglicans resented the disestablishment of the Irish church & University Test Act.

  • Ballot Act, unpopular with landlords/tenants.

  • Non-conformists were still annoyed over the Education Act.

  • Working classes annoyed about the trade unions & the Licensing Act.

We have been borne down in a torrent of gin & beer’ - Gladstone on losing the general election

The Conservatives presented a new image

  • highly efficient organisation of the Tory party by John Gorst & the new Conservative Central Office.

  • The Conservatives had been building up an effective attack on the government since 1872 when Disraeli addressed a huge meeting in Manchester’s Free Trade Hall.

To what extent was Disraeli a genuine social reformer?

Disraeli’s political outlook – TORY DEMOCRACY

By the time of Disraeli’s turn of Prime Minister in 1874, Disraeli seemed to have clear ideas about the direction he wanted the Conservatives to take.

He spoke about this new approach in two famous speeches in 1872, one in Manchester & the other at Crystal Palace.

  • He saw value in tradition & wanted to preserve the Anglican Church, the aristocracy & the monarchy.

  • It was important for the government & privileged classes to help the working people --- ‘One Nation Toryism’.

  • Disraeli hoped for an alliance between the privileged & the masses by social reform. The Conservatives had to adopt themselves & come to terms with the new democratic & industrial age.

  • He adopted imperialism as a positive Conservative theme as a powerful union under the monarchy.

The Second Reform Act 1867

Russell & Gladstone introduced a moderate reform bill in March 1866 which would bring an extra 400 000 voters, though Disraeli opposed this, who thought the bill went too far.
Causes of the 2nd Reform Act

  • Eminence gris – all to do with power between Gladstone & Disraeli: they both thought that gaining support from the working classes would help them to power.

  • Middle class influence – they were playing a bigger role in society & the conditions that the working classes worked/lived in.

  • Advances outside parliament – great exhibition shows society has changed, Freedom, e.g. Catholic emancipation & Corn Law Repeal. More trade, free trade. All led to a zeitgeist – everyone thought parliament needed changing.

  • Respect for working classes – unions showed that they could organise themselves. Co-op improved their situation. Showed they were respectable at the Great Exhibition.

  • Pressure from without – working classes set up reform league & rioted against class isolation. They thought the government weren’t doing enough to help (cholera outbreak ’66). One of the big riots was at Hyde Park.

Disraeli’s ‘leap in the dark’

Disraeli was prepared to introduce a more drastic bill to ensure long term power for the Tories, along with Derby, Cranborne & 2 other members resigned in disagreement with this bill.

Disraeli went ahead & made several amendments (proposed by the Liberals!), & the Conservative bill became law in August 1867.
Effects of the Act

  • increased size of electorate. 1.36 million to 2,46 million.

  • voting qualification was high enough to keep agricultural labourers & miners without the vote. Kept wealthy farmers & landowners at an advantage.

  • voting still held in public.

  • too many voters for bribery.

However, Gladstone conducted a vigorous election campaign by speaking all over the country & winning Non-conformist support by announcing that the Liberals would disestablish the Anglican church in Ireland.

Disraeli’s social reform Acts
Public Health Act 1875

The work of Home Secretary, Richard Cross. The Act laid down the compulsory duties of local authorities:

  • had to ensure an adequate water supply, drainage & sewage disposal.

  • nuisances were to be removed.

  • contaminated food to be sought out & destroyed.

  • cases of the infectious diseases were to be notified to the Medical Officer, who had to take appropriate action.

The Act made a lot of difference, but could be argued as already being in the pipeline, & would have been passed regardless of the government in charge.
Artisans’ Dwelling Act 1875

Also the work of Cross. Permissive Act.

  • local authorities could buy up & destroy insanitary property & replace it with modern, healthy accommodation.

  • Joseph Chamberlain, Mayor of Birmingham, did exactly this though many others just didn’t bother.

Intoxicating Liquors Act 1874

A hit back at the unpopular Licensing Act by Gladstone.

  • opening hours extended by 30 minutes.

  • fewer police rights to enter pubs.

Sale of food & drugs Act 1875

Set up inspectors to detect adulterated food, e.g. chalk in flour.

Permissive – no compulsion for local authorities to appoint inspectors so not effective.
Conspiracy & Protection of Property Act 1875

The Liberal trade union reforms had become very unpopular

  • peaceful picketing became legal.

  • unions could act legally as a group & so could strike.

Friendly Societies Act 1875

  • societies provided insurance for working classes.

  • societies were to register voluntarily.

  • tables of model premiums were drawn but were permissive.

  • infants could still be insured but for limited amounts.

Education Act 1876

  • Local School Attendance Committees to make attendance compulsory.

  • children under 10 to not be employed.

  • children under 10 – 14 could work part time if they had a certificate of attendance.

Aim was to help Anglican schools in competition with rate funded schools.
Merchant Shipping Act 1876

Pressure from Samuel Plimsoll & Tory MPs for ports to stop overloading ships.

‘Plimsoll line’ to be painted on ships to show the maximum loading point, However, the line was painted on wherever the owner wanted, so did little to ensure safety of sailors.

How far did Gladstone succeed in solving the problems of the Irish?

Religious, economic & social problems of the Irish in 1868

  • The Protestant Church of England (Anglican) was the official state church in Ireland, though 88% were Roman Catholic. They had to pay the tithe to the Protestant church, though they never attended its services, as well as having to support their own churches – a heavy burden.

  • There was intense poverty because of the lack on industry & the land situation, There was a prosperous Irish linen industry until the Act of Union (1800) where free trade between England & Ireland occurred, leaving widespread unemployment due to competition with the more advanced Britain.

  • The herring mysteriously disappeared so the Irish economy came to depend on agriculture being organised efficiently – yet most of the land was owned by wealthy Anglo-Irish landlords, many of whom lived in England.

  • The population increased rapidly in the 19th century & demand for land grew. Many landlords were only interested in profits, so when dissatisfied with their paltry income they evicted tenants so that small plots could be turned into large farms, of which modern methods of agriculture could be used. Between 1860 & 1870 the amount of people seeking poor relief almost doubled.

  • The Irish felt separated from the English, & many blamed the English for the decay of their country. The English lacked sympathy & understanding for the hardships of the Irish, so the feeling grew amongst them that only Ireland could sort itself out. The Home Rule League was formed in 1870 by Isaac Butt.

Gladstone was the first British politician to show a real understanding of Ireland’s problems & a genuine desire to do something constructive about it.
Ireland during Gladstone’s First Ministry
The Irish Church Act 1869

Disestablished the Anglican Church in Ireland – much of its property & wealth were taken away & used to improve hospitals, workhouses & schools, Tithe no longer had to be paid. Much opposition in the Lords. Well received by Catholics & won Gladstone some support with Roman Catholic leaders.

The First Irish Land Act 1870

An attempt to give some sort of protection to tenants.

  • the courts had to make sure that landlords did not charge exorbitant rents.

  • evicted tenants who had improved their holdings were to receive some compensation.

  • a scale was introduced showing how much damages people could claim for having been evicted.

  • tenants who wanted to purchase this holding from a landlord were to receive 2/3 of the purchase price as a grant from the state.

The Act was pretty much a failure.

  • didn’t define how high an exorbitant rent was, so landlords raised rents so tenants could no longer pay them & get evicted.

  • the courts tended to support the landlord against the tenants.

Irish Universities Bill 1873

Catholics couldn’t get degrees & Trinity College was an Anglican foundation. So Gladstone proposed establishment of a national, nondenominational university of Dublin. This involved problems such as the teaching of controversial subjects: history & theology. The bill pleased nobody – Catholic leaders wanted their own University, while Protestants objected to Catholics being admitted. The bill was defeated in the Commons 1873.

The demand for Home Rule left Gladstone unmoved during his First Ministry, though he would change his mind later…

Ireland in Gladstone’s Second Ministry
A bill was introduced (1880) to give compensation to Irish tenants who were evicted, but the Lords rejected it by a huge majority. The Land League retaliated by boycotting anyone who took over a farm from which the previous tenant had been evicted.
Second Irish Land Act 1881

This gave the Land League what they wanted – the three Fs (fair rent, fixity of tenure & free sale), as well as Land Courts to decide fair rents.

Unfortunately it didn’t solve the Irish problem, because it was ten years too late. Parnell saw that if he could push Gladstone this far, he could push him even further to Home Rule, Therefore the Land League boycotted the new Land Courts & ordered a non-payment of rent campaign.

Movements in Ireland

Began in Ireland in 1867; were pledged to revolution & wanted an Irish republic completely separate from Britain. There were several risings:

  • Manchester – a group of Irishmen rescued two fenians from a prison van: a policeman was killed & 3 of the rescuers were later hanged.

  • Clerkenwell Gaol in London – an attempt to free two fenians went wrong: 12 killed/over 100 seriously injured.

The fenians actually had limited support in Ireland, but helped convince Gladstone that something had to be done to help the Irish. (This was at the start of his First Ministry).
The Land League

1879. Smallholders & tenant farmers combined to form this league under the leadership of Michael Davitt. The league soon gained massive support in Ireland & demanded the three Fs. The League’s official tactic was for farmers to refuse to pay rents, thought in some areas they resorted to violence.

The League was soon working closely with the Home Rule Movement & Parnell…
Gladstone, Parnell & Irish Nationalism
When Isaac Butt was the Home Rule leader (formed 1870), its campaign was moderate & respectable.

Charles Stewart Parnell became leader in 1877 & was much more aggressive. New Zealand had been given self government in 1850 as well as Canada dominion status & this encouraged the Irish. In 1880’s general election, Irish Nationalists won 61 seats & they pressured Gladstone to pass the Second Land Act, though they refused to cooperate with this! Gladstone had Parnell arrested & violence increased.

Kilmainham Treaty

After 6 months an agreement was reached (April 1882). Parnell agreed to call of the rent strike & control the violence, whilst Gladstone promised an Arrears Bill to let tenants off their rent arrears which ha dbuilt up during the campaign. Parnell was released.

Phoenix Park murders

This ruined chances of immediate progress, 4 days after Parnell’s release. Lord Frederick Cavendish (chief secretary for Ireland) & T.E. Burke (the permanent under-secretary) were stabbed to death in Dublin. The murderers were members of an extremist group – ‘The Invincibles’ – of which Parnell denounced, but more murders followed. An even more severe Coercion Act was passed which enabled the government to track down & arrest the ‘Invincibles’ – 5 were hanged.

The Arrears Act was passed & the Second Land Act began to operate – resulted in a general reduction of rents by 20%. Everything settled in 1883, until June 1885…
Parnell puts Conservatives into power
Parnell still wanted Home Rule. Lord Randolph Churchill was eager to gain Irish votes (a young & up & coming Conservative MP) & seemed to be offering major concession – so Parnell took a chance with the Conservatives, so in June 1885, Nationalists voted with Conservatives to defeat the Liberal government on an increase in beer & spirit duties.
Gladstone resigned & a Conservative government took office with Robert Cecil as Prime Minister, who gave the Irish two major concessions:

  • the Coercion Acts were dropped.

  • Lord Ashbourne’s Act (1885) provided £5 million for loans to enable tenants to buy holdings from their landlords.

A general election was held in November 1885: Liberals won the most seats, but Nationalists could still join to the Conservatives to overrule the Liberals when they wanted.

By early December it was clear that Salisbury would not go as far as Home Rule, & was only a matter of time fore Parnell removed him.
The First Home Rule Bill 1886
Gladstone had mage up his mind by summer 1885. He realised that Irish nationalism was such a deeply felt desire & violence was on the increase again: Home Rule was to be proposed.

Yet he was afraid of splitting the Liberals & hoped the Conservatives would introduce it.

  • On 15 Dec 1885, Gladstone’s son Herbert leaked the news about his dad’s decision to the press – ‘Hawarden Kite’. The news was sprung upon the government; particularly Hartington was outraged – Gladstone became Prime Minister for the 3rd time in January 1886.

  • The First Home Rule Bill was introduced in April – proposed Ireland should have its own government in Ireland. There was great opposition & the bill was defeated.

How far were the foreign & imperial policies of Gladstone & Disraeli in British interests?
The Liberal party was now deeply divided, & Gladstone lost the next General election heavily.

Disraeli’s Foreign Policies
The Suez Canal 1875

  • The Suez Canal (opened 1869) was controlled by the French & the Khedive Ismail, ruler of Egypt.

  • The Khedive got into financial trouble & decided to sell his shares. There was a strong possibility a French company would buy them, posing a threat of complete French control of the canal.

  • However, whilst the French company were raising the £4 millions needed to buy the shares, Disraeli stepped in & bought the shares for the British government.

  • Britain now owned 7/16 of the shares.

  • Fulfilled British Foreign Policy – France had been prevented form gaining total control – balancing power in Europe. Trade was also protected as gaining the canal ensured a shorter trade route to India.

The Zulu Wars 1879


  • Wasn’t part of Disraeli’s intentions – forced upon him by man on the spot.

  • Britain got ownership of ‘Cape of Good Hope’ after congress of Vienna (1815) from the Dutch.

  • 1836, many of the Boers (Dutch farmers) disliked British rule & founded two new states: Transvaal & The Orange Free State. The British still claimed sovereignty over them.

  • 1852/54, Britain recognised independence of the states - tension eased.

  • Presence of large Zulu tribe – constant threat to both British & Boers – Boers have major clash with Zulus (1838) at Blood River – 3000 Zulus slaughtered.

  • Disraeli’s colonial secretary, Lord Carnavan, hoped to bring the states under British control in union with Cape & Natal.

What happened:

  • Carnavan decided Boers would be glad at protection. Appointed Frere as High Commissioner for South Africa – with instructions to establish a federation.

  • Frere decided Zulu threat had to be destroyed before federation of Africa was achieved.

  • Disraeli didn’t want war. Frere disobeyed & launched an invasion of Zululand.

  • Beginning of war – disastrous for Britian.

  • 1879 – manage to defeat Zulus & capture King.

  • Didn’t fulfil British Foreign Policy. By defeating the Zulus, the Dutch can now become independent. Therefore the Dutch are now a threat to power, if they join with Germany or a neighbouring country against the British.

The Afghan Wars 1878 - 80

  • The British were interested in Afghanistan because they saw it as a buffer state to protect India from Russia. They wanted to build up good relations with the Amir of Afghanistan, Sher Ali.

  • A Russian mission appeared at Kabul but the British approach had been rebuffed. The cabinet supported Lord Lytton (viceroy of India) to send an uninvited British mission.

  • Following diplomatic pressure the Russians withdrew from Kabul but Lytton pursued in his plan to install a British mission. Disregarding advice from London he provocatively & unsuccessfully attempted to send a British force through the Khyber Pass.

  • A punitive expedition had to be dispatched after a successful campaign, the Amir leader of Afghan tribes agreed to a British mission drawing up residence in Kabul, In September 1879 Afghan troops massacred all its members.

  • Fulfilled British Foreign Policy in terms of keeping the balance of power in Europe. Kept out the Russians. However, was very much man on the spot rather than Disraeli.

The Eastern Question

Background – it was hoped the Eastern Question had been solved in the Treaty of Paris which ended the Crimean war – Black sea clauses for the Russians. Sultan of Turkey promised to treat Christians fairly so Russians could no longer invade using the excuse that they needed to protect Christians. Yet in 1870 the Russians said they didn’t feel bound by the Black Sea Clauses anymore, & the Turks were over taxing Christians.
The Balkan atrocities – The main European powers sent the Turks the Berlin Memorandum protesting against their harshness, but Disraeli refused to join because of suspicion about Russian intentions. Yet the Turks now thought they could rely on Britain & continued crushing Balkan rebels. Turkish irregular troops slaughtered Bulgarian peasants – 12000 men, women & children.

This was embarrassing for Disraeli who wanted to condemn the Turks.

Gladstone published ‘The Bulgarian Horrors & the Question of the East’ – very popular.
War between Russia & Turkey – Alexander II said he wouldn’t stand for Balkan atrocities & invaded, yet said they would not capture Constantinople or interfere with Suez Canal – Britain stayed neutral.

By 1878 the Russians were 100 miles away from Constantinople & Disraeli ordered warships to Constantinople, when the Russians were at San Stefano. The Turks threw everything into their defence, yet Disraeli also claimed some credit.

Treaty of San Stefano – Signed between Russia & Turkey.

  1. Serbia, Montenegro & Romania were recognised as independent of Turkey.

  2. Russia took Bessarabia from Romania, giving them control of Danube mouth.

  3. ‘Big Bulgaria’ set up. To be ‘initially’ administered by Russian army officers. Britain thought this would act as a satellite state for Russia.

Disraeli sent 7000 Indian troops to Malta. Bismarck offered to act as ‘honest broker’ & Russians agreed to attend Congress of Berlin.
Congress of Berlin – Disraeli dominated this.

  1. Big Bulgaria divided into three, either becoming independent, belonging to Turkey or remaining part of the Turkish Empire.

  2. Austrians could occupy Bosnia & Herzegovina, thought it still belonged to Turkey.

  3. The Turks allowed Britain to occupy Cyprus. Gave British a strong position in eastern Mediterranean.

We have brought back peace with honour’ – Disraeli

The Midlothian Campaign

Gladstone re-emerged as Liberal leader & conducted a campaign, starting in Midlothian & travelling around the country. He criticised Disraeli’s policies as immoral. His most successful speech was at St Andrew’s Hall, Glasgow to an audience of 600.

Gladstone’s Foreign Policies
Britain & the Franco Prussian War 1870 -71

  • The British remained neutral.

  • There was a danger Belgium may be invaded – Napoleon III hoped to annex it. This was close to the British coast & the Thames estuary. Gladstone persuaded Prussia & France to agree to Belgian neutrality. Success – the agreement was kept & British interests were safe.

  • After France had lost the war, the Russians claimed they no longer felt bound by the Black Sea Clauses & that they would build bases & fortify the coastline.

  • A conference was held in London (Jan 71) & Britain suffered a diplomatic defeat as it was agreed the Black Sea Clauses were cancelled. Though Lord Granville, British Foreign Minister, secured an agreement that from now on no country can break parts of a treaty unless every other country agrees.

  • The British felt Gladstone had acted weakly.

The Alabama Case

Since the American Civil War (1861 – 5) the Americans claimed compensation for the damage caused by the Alabama & other ships. It was decided Britain should pay £3.25 million, which Gladstone accepted.

The British again saw Gladstone as weak, especially after the Franco Prussian war.
Withdrawal from Afghanistan

Gladstone reversed Disraeli’s policy & withdrew troops from Afghanistan. Relations with Afghanistan remained good for the next 20 years.

Transvaal wins independence

Before the outbreak of the Zulu war (1879), the Transvaal had been promised self-government. However nothing happened because he was beginning to think about setting up a South African federation, to include the Transvaal & Orange Free State.

  • January 1881 – Gladstone told the Transvaal that self-government was not a possibility.

  • Boers rose in revolt & killed 100 men in a small British force.

  • Therefore, Gladstone decided to give the Transvaal independence.

  • The Boers took this as a sign of British weakness, as well as the British public also viewing Gladstone as acting weakly.

The British occupy Egypt

Britain was now deeply involved with Egypt due to the Suez Canal shares. Against his will, Gladstone intervened with Egypt to safeguard British interests.

  • Britain & France were concerned about their financial interests & tried forcing the Khedive Ismail to allow European advisers to control his finances. He refused & so they called upon the Sultan of Turkey to replace him with Tewfik.

  • Arabi Pasha, leader of the Egyptian Nationalist Party seemed on the point of deposing Tewfik.

  • Gladstone joined with the French & sent a fleet to Alexandria as a warning, provoking rioting in Alexandria. Gladstone authorized the bombardment of Alexandria & British troops occupied the city, 1882.

  • British troops under Sir Garnet Wolseley destroyed Arabi’s army & Tewfik was restored.

  • Sir Evelyn Baring (later lord Cromer) was appointed Consul-General of Egypt & virtually ruled the country for the next 23 years.

Gladstone’s action astonished the public & boosted his popularity.
General Gordon & the Sudan

The Sudan had been ruled by Egypt since 1823 & the Sudanese resented the corrupt Egyptians. Muhammed Ahmed claimed her was the saviour of Islam from foreign influence & roused most the country against the Egyptians troops.

  • Tewfik sent an army commanded by British officer Hicks Pasha to subdue the rebels but they were slaughtered (November 1833).

  • Gladstone decided against sending a British army as he sympathised with the Sudanese & Ahmed was so popular.

  • Yet there were still some Egyptian garrisons in the Sudan who could not be left to Ahmed. Therefore the government sent General Gordon to organise the evacuation, yet he was not the sort of man to be relied upon to retreat.

  • Gordon arrived in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum in February 1884. But instead of hurrying up with the evacuation he decided to stay put.

  • The Queen demanded that help be sent immediately, but Gladstone hesitated but a relief force was finally sent in October. They arrived in January 1885, only to find out that Gordon had died two days earlier.

The British were stunned & blamed Gladstone, also making the Liberals very unpopular. Gladstone went from being the ‘GOM’ (Grand Old Man) to the ‘MOG’ (Murderer Of Gordon).

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