Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Henry Peter, Baron Brougham and Vaux 1778 - 1868 1864c.

J Mayall 

Portrait of Henry Peter, Baron Brougham and Vaux 1778 - 1868, J Mayall
Oil on canvas
19th Century
50 x 40 inches 127 x 101.2 cm
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Henry Brougham was one of the most sensational statesmen of the nineteenth century.

He made an early impact as a Whig debater in the Commons with the record - six hours - for the longest ever speech in the Commons. He was a leading advocate of the abolition of slavery and his speeches played an important role in persuading Parliament to abolish not merely the trading of slaves, but the practice of slavery itself.

Brougham’s first national celebrity came during in defending Queen Caroline, who was put on trial in the House of Lords for adultery by her husband King George IV. His dynamic and successful defence earned him popular acclaim just as it guaranteed the King’s enmity and it was only on the accession of William IV that real power beckoned.

Having pledged himself in the cause of parliamentary reform, Brougham led a powerful populist movement hungry for constitutional change. Having been given the post of Lord Chancellor in Grey’s administration, he was charged with ensuring the passage of the Reform Act through an implacably reactionary House of Lords which felt itself to be under radical siege. It was due in great part to Brougham’s political skills that the Act became law in 1832, and it is for this that he is seen as a founder of Britain’s modern democracy.
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