The Life of Richard Cobden by John Morley
Richard Cobden (1804-1865) was a manufacturer and Liberal politician, campaigning for the repeal of the Corn Laws, and for a free market economy. His laissez-faire views on protectionism and the role of government intervention in economics had a lasting influence on British politics throughout the twentieth century as the antithesis of socialism. This Life, first published in 1881, set new standards for biographical documentation. Morley had the advantage of having not only Cobden's journals and letters to use, but access to those of many of his friends and political associates. Volume 1 considers his early life and the beginnings of his political involvement, then dealing in great detail with the Anti-Corn Law League. Morley examines the state of society in the 1840s, Cobden's role in the campaign, and particularly his influence on Sir Robert Peel. Cobden believed free trade was essential to equality and social progress.