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John Bright

Data urodzenia: 16. Listopad 1811
Data zgonu: 27. Marzec 1889

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John Bright , brytyjski radykalny i liberalny polityk, kwakier, współzałożyciel Ligi Przeciwko Ustawom Zbożowym, minister w rządach Williama Ewarta Gladstone’a.

Był synem Jacoba Brighta, pracownika branży tekstylnej z Manchesteru, i jego drugiej żony Marthy Wood. Wykształcenie odebrał w Ackworth School, Bootham School oraz w Newton School. W wieku 16 lat rozpoczął pracę w fabryce ojca. Wkrótce rozpoczął działalność publiczną i dał się poznać jako świetny mówca. W 1836 lub 1837 r. poznał Richarda Cobdena i wspólnie rozpoczęli działalność na rzecz zniesienia protekcjonistycznych ustaw zbożowych.

Pierwsze przemówienie w tej sprawie Bright wygłosił w 1838 r. Rok później powstała Liga Przewicko Ustawom Zbożowym . Bright dużo podróżował po kraju i wygłaszał wiele przemówień, w których popierał wolny handel i krytykował ziemską arystokrację. W 1843 r. Bright uzyskał mandat parlamentarny z okręgu City of Durham. Wciąż podróżował po kraju. Zorganizował konferencję Ligi w Londynie. Słał także petycje do księcia Sussex, ministra spraw wewnętrznych sir Jamesa Grahama oraz do przewodniczącego i wiceprzewodniczącego Zarządu Handlu, lorda Ripona i Williama Gladstone’a.

Działalność Brighta i Cobdena oraz klęska głodu w Irlandii spowodowana chorobą ziemniaków, skłoniły premiera Roberta Peela do zniesienia ustaw zbożowych, co nastąpiło w 1846 r. W 1847 r. Bright uzyskał mandat parlamentarny z okręgu Manchester. Jego krytyka wojny krymskiej, sprawiła, że przegrał wybory w Manchesterze w 1857 r. Wkrótce jednak uzyskał mandat parlamentarny z okręgu Birmingham. Od 1885 r. reprezentował okręg wyborczy Birmingham Central.

W 1868 r. został przewodniczącym Zarządu Handlu i był nim do 1871 r. W latach 1873-1874 i 1880-1882 był Kanclerzem Księstwa Lancaster. W 1886 r. opuścił Partię Liberalną w proteście przeciwko projektowi nadającemu Irlandii autonomię. Zmarł w 1889 r.

Cytaty John Bright

„The angel of death has been abroad throughout the land; you may almost hear the beating of his wings.“

— John Bright
Context: The angel of death has been abroad throughout the land; you may almost hear the beating of his wings. There is no one, as when the first-born were slain of old, to sprinkle with blood the lintel and the two sideposts of our doors, that he may spare and pass on; he takes his victims from the castle of the noble, the mansion of the wealthy, and the cottage of the poor and the lowly, and it is on behalf of all these classes that I make this solemn appeal. Speech https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/commons/1855/feb/23/supply-ministerial-explanations to the House of Commons (23 February 1855) opposing the Crimean War.

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„England is the mother of Parliaments.“

— John Bright
Context: We may be proud that England is the ancient country of Parliaments. With scarcely any intervening period, Parliaments have met constantly for 600 years, and there was something of a Parliament before the Conquest. England is the mother of Parliaments. Speech at Birmingham, (18 January 1865)

„Working men in this hall... I... say to you, and through the Press to all the working men of this kingdom, that the accession to office of Lord Derby is a declaration of war against the working classes... They reckon nothing of the Constitution of their country—a Constitution which has not more regard to the Crown or to the aristocracy than it has to the people; a Constitution which regards the House of Commons fairly representing the nation as important a part of the Government system of the kingdom as the House of Lords or the Throne itself... Now, what is the Derby principle? It is the shutting out of much more than three-fourths, five-sixths, and even more than five-sixths, of the people from the exercise of constitutional rights... What is it that we are come to in this country that what is being rapidly conceded in all parts of the world is being persistently and obstinately refused here in England, the home of freedom, the mother of Parliaments... Stretch out your hand to your countrymen in every portion of the three kingdoms, and ask them to join in a great and righteous effort on behalf of that freedom which has so long been the boast of Englishmen, but which the majority of Englishmen have never yet possessed... Remember the great object for which we strive, care not for calumnies and for lies, our object is this—to restore the British Constitution and with all its freedom to the British people.“

— John Bright
Speech in Birmingham (27 August 1866), quoted in The Times (28 August 1866), p. 4.

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„The Corn Law is as great a robbery of the man who follows the plough as it is of him who minds the loom... If there be one view of the question which stimulates me to harder work in this cause than another, it is the fearful sufferings which I know to exist amongst the rural laborers in almost every part of this kingdom... And then a fat and sleek dean, a dignitary of the Church and a great philosopher, recommends for the consumption of the people—he did not read a paper about the supplies that were to be had in the great valley of the Mississippi—but he said that there were swede, turnip and mangel-wurzel; and the Hereditary Earl Marshal of England, if to out-Herod Herod himself, recommends hot water and a pinch of curry-powder. The people of England have not, even under thirty years of Corn Law influence, been sunk so low as to submit tamely to this insult and wrong. It is enough that a law should be passed to make your toil valueless, to make your skill and labor unavailing to procure for you a fair supply of the common necessaries of life—but when to this grievous iniquity they add the insult of telling you to go, like beasts that perish, to mangel-wurzel, or to something which even the beasts themselves cannot eat, then I believe the people of England will rise, and with one voice proclaim the downfall of this odious system.“

— John Bright
Speech at an Anti-Corn Law League meeting (summer 1843), quoted in G. M. Trevelyan, The Life of John Bright (London: Constable, 1913), pp. 93-94.

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„To the Working Men of Rochdale: A deep sympathy with you in your present circumstances induces me to address you. Listen and reflect, even though you may not approve. Your are suffering—you have long suffered. Your wages have for many years declined, and your position has gradually and steadily become worse. Your sufferings have naturally produced discontent, and you have turned eagerly to almost any scheme which gave hope of relief. Many of you know full well that neither an act of Parliament nor the act of a multitude can keep up wages. You know that trade has long been bad, and that with a bad trade wages cannot rise. If you are resolved to compel an advance of wages, you cannot compel manufacturers to give you employment. Trade must yield a profit, or it will not long be carried on... The aristocracy are powerful and determined; and, unhappily, the middle classes are not yet intelligent enough to see the safety of extending political power to the whole people. The working classes can never gain it of themselves. Physical force you wisely repudiate. It is immoral, and you have no arms, and little organisations... Your first step to entire freedom must be commercial freedom—freedom of industry. We must put an end to the partial famine which is destroying trade, and demand for your labor, your wages, your comforts, and your independence. The aristocracy regard the Anti-Corn Law League as their greatest enemy. That which is the greatest enemy of the remorseless aristocracy of Britain must almost of necessity be your firmest friend. Every man who tells you to support the Corn Law is your enemy—every man who hastens, by a single hour, the abolition of the Corn Law, shortens by so much the duration of your sufferings. Whilst the inhuman law exists, your wages must decline. When it is abolished, and not till then, they will rise.“

— John Bright
Address (17 August 1842), quoted in G. M. Trevelyan, The Life of John Bright (London: Constable, 1913), pp, 81-82.

„I am the great terror of the squires, they seem to be seized with a sort of bucolic mania in dealing with me.“

— John Bright
Letter to his wife, quoted in G. M. Trevelyan, The Life of John Bright (London: Constable, 1913), p. 354.

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