Cardwell first entered the House of Commons as Tory MP for Clitheroe and became a confidante of Sir Robert Peel. When the Conservatives split over the Corn Laws Cardwell sided with Peel. With the formation of Lord Aberdeen’s coalition government Cardwell entered the cabinet as President of the Board of Trade and served in a succession of posts under Palmerston and Russell, but he made his greatest impact as Gladstone’s Secretary of State for War. He abolished flogging and the purchase of officer commissions, replacing it with advancement on merit. In addition, he centralised the power of the War Office and made the Secretary of State superior to the Army Commander in Chief in the person of the Duke of Cambridge, cousin to Queen Victoria and an opponent of reform. The Duke would still be in post nearly 20 years later when another Liberal War Secretary Henry Campbell-Bannerman sought to introduce further army reforms.