The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Richard Cobden

Richard Cobden

A carte-de-visite portrait of Richard Cobden (1804-1865), British Liberal politician and economist.

Together with John Bright, Cobden was an ardent supporter of the Anti-Corn Law League (1839). A Member of Parliament from 1841, he opposed class and religious privileges and believed in disarmament and free trade.

Born in Sussex, the son of a farmer, Cobden became a cotton manufacturer in Manchester. With other businessmen he founded the Anti-Corn Law League and began his life-long association with John Bright, until 1845 devoting himself to the repeal of the Corn Laws. A typical early Victorian radical, he believed in the abolition of privileges, a minimum of government interference, and the securing of international peace through free trade, disarmament and arbitration. He opposed trade unionism and most of the factory legislation of his time, because he regarded them as opposed to the liberty of free contract. His opposition to the Crimean War made him unpopular.

Photographed by William and Daniel Downey of London and Newcastle.

Code: 124593
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