Peel, Sir Robert
without infringing on established rights.This statement came to be regarded as the manifesto for the Conservative party now emerging, under Peel's leadership, from the old Tory party. Among the able young men who rallied around Peel were William Ewart Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli. Peel was asked to form a cabinet in 1839 but declined when the young Queen Victoria refused to make requested changes in her household. He returned to power in 1841, however, and the reshaped party attitudes were very apparent in his new ministry, which introduced an income tax and a revised system of banking control, gave aid to the Irish Catholic Church, and attempted Irish land reform. Of far greater importance were the virtual abandonment of custom duties and the repeal of the corn laws. Peel had formerly defended these laws, which protected Tory agricultural interests, but he was impressed by the arguments of Richard Cobden against them and convinced by the disastrous effect of the potato famine in Ireland. The laws were repealed in June, 1846, but Peel's action split his party, and he resigned from office after a tactical defeat within the same month. Much abused as an apostate during his lifetime, Peel is now recognized as a practical statesman of forward-looking views and great courage. His memoirs were posthumously published (1856). His correspondence and private letters were edited by C. S. Parker (3 vol., 1891–99) and later by George Peel (1920).
See biographies by N. Gash (2 vol., 1961–72) and D. Read (1987).
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