Death of Richard Cobden, guiding light of the Anti-Corn Law League

Forever associated with John Bright as the two great stars of the Anti-Corn Law League, Cobden also gave his name to the Cobden-Chevalier Treaty, a free trade agreement that was signed between Britain and France on 23rd January 1860. He served as an MP for both Stockport and the West Riding of Yorkshire. Cobden’s work in founding the Anti-Corn Law League in 1839 is seen as integral to overturning these laws. Elected as MP for Stockport in 1841, Cobden was able to argue the case for reform inside parliament and the work of the League, coupled with the Irish potato famine, led in 1846 to Sir Robert Peel’s Tory government repealing the laws. Cobden declined positions in both Lord John Russell’s and Lord Palmerston’s governments. An opponent of the Crimean War, Cobden was openly criticised for his opposition to the government’s foreign policy. He devoted much of the rest of his career to promoting free trade and peace, seeing the former as a way to deliver the latter.