The Corn Laws, in force between 1689 and 1846, were designed to protect English landholders by encouraging the export and limiting the import of corn when prices fell below a fixed point. They were eventually abolished in the face of militant agitation by the Anti-Corn-Law-League, formed in Manchester in 1839, which maintained that the laws, which amounted to a subsidy, increased industrial costs. After a lengthy campaign, opponents of the law finally got their way in 1846--a significant triumph which was indicative of the new political power of the English middle class.

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Last modified 1987