Could be that parliament used its increased power to

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Unformatted text preview: ent and monarchy. Could be that parliament used its increased power to predate on society, but anyway this was better for the economy because their own property rights were secure and they used these more productively than the Stuart kings had. James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis: L September 30, 2009 10 / 29 Whigs and Hunters In 1723 the Whig government passed the “Black Act” (in force until 1823) which made concealing your face (‘ blacking’ a hanging o¤ense. ) In his book Whigs and Hunters: The Origin of the Black Act E.P. Thompson shows that this was part of the struggle over the enclosure of common lands. Poor people had traditional rights to pasture their cows, collect wood and wild foods etc. and these rights were taken away. In response they attacked the animals, crops, possessions of those who took the land and did so in disguise (like highwaymen). On the face of it, the Black Act appears to be part of the strategy of the oligarchy to expropriate the poor after defeating the Monarchy. Thompson then asks: was the law just a instrument of the oligarchy? A thinly disguised tool for their interests? He shows the answer to this is no. Poor people challenged enclosures and had their rights upheld by local justices of the peace, often the local squire or landowner! The rule of law was in fact real. James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis: L September 30, 2009 11 / 29 The Paradox of the Rule of Law How can one explain this apparently paradoxical …nding? Thompson argues that this stems from the struggle against the monarchy in the 17th century. “it was inherent in the very nature of the medium which they [those aristocrats, merchants etc. …ghting the Crown] had selected for their own self-defense that it could not be reserved for the exclusive use only of their own class. The law, in its forms and traditions, entailed principle...
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This document was uploaded on 02/28/2014 for the course ECON 2328 at Harvard.

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