Edwin Chadwick By: Insoo Kang

The Inner Temple (School that Chadwick attended)

Edwin Chadwick was born in Lancashire on 24th January 1800 (Editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica). His father, James Chadwick, encouraged him to read books by radicals such as Tom Paine; a political activist whose writings remain as classical statements of the egalitarian, democratic faith of the Age of Revolution)(Trueman). Chadwick's early education was in a village school in Lancashire county, then a boarding school in Stockport (south of Manchester)(Brief History During The Snow Era). He went to London to study law when he was 18, but he was limited due to financial difficulties(Brief History During The Snow Era). Chadwick joined an attorney's office as an apprentice to begin his career in law. After 5 years, he realized that he needed formal education so he enrolled in Inner Temple in 1823, a law at The Temple in London (Brief History During The Snow Era). After seven years, on November 26, 1830, he became a licensed barrister (court lawyer) (Brief History During The Snow Era).

Jeremy Bentham (English Political reformer)

While he was at law school, in order to support himself, he started reporting for metropolitan newspapers (Brief History During The Snow Era). Chadwick also got involved in the world of politics and became a friend and supporter of Jeremy Bentham(Brief History During The Snow Era). Until Bentham's death in 1832, he became a literary secretary (Trueman). He was inspired by Bentham's ideas of radicalism whose approach to social issues were called utilitarianism (A History of Western Society. 720). Utilitarianism is the idea that social policies should be dealt with a rational and scientific basis to promote the "greatest good for the greatest number" (A History of Western Society. 720). After the death of Bentham, he moved to Orme Square and joined the government as the assistant commissioner of the Royal Commission of Enquiry of the Poor Laws (Brief History During the Snow Era).

Public Health Act of 1848

Chadwick was motivated by the people's unsanitary surroundings to give way to reform and improvement (A History of Western Society. 720). An important idea for Chadwick was utilitarianism. Applying Bentham's principle of utilitarianism, he became convinced that the government was able to help prevent disease by cleaning up the urban environment in order to stop poverty (A History of Western Society. 720). Chadwick collected reports from the local Poor Laws officials on the "sanitary conditions of the laboring population" and came to the conclusion that disease was related to the filthy environmental conditions that were caused by lack of drainage, sewers, and garbage collection (A History of Western Society. 720). The need for reform was strengthened by a cholera epidemic that raged across Britain, so Chadwick's report became the basis of the Britain's first public health law called the Public Health Act of 1848 (Editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica). This act epitomized his belief that public health should be accounted for locally in order to encourage the people to participate in their own protection (Editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica). Furthermore, it gave cities board authority to build modern sanitary systems (A History of Western Society.720).

Edwin Chadwick presented his work by publishing his findings. In 1842, he published his hard-hitting findings into a report called 'The Sanitary Conditions of the Laboring Population' (A History of Western Society.720) In 1832, when Prime Minister Earl Grey appointed him the assistant commissioner with the responsibility of collecting data and information for the Commission. He wrote about one-third of the Poor Laws, but the new Poor Law Amendment Act did not go as far as Chadwick would have liked it, but it set up a Central Poor Law Commission, which Chadwick thought solidify the new reforms (Trueman). In 1833, he was involved with the Royal Commission as the chief editor to investigate the condition of factory children. The report lead to the passing of the 'Ten Hours Act' in 1847 (Bloy).

Meeting of the General Board of Health

People viewed his work in positive and negative ways. Positively, the public health movement won dedicated supporter in the United States, France and Germany from the late 1840s on (A History on Western Society.721). It was viewed positively because government accepted at least limited responsibility for the health of all citizens and succeeded in breaking the old fatalism in urban populations (A History on Western Society.721). On the other hand, he was described as humorless, impatient, and tactless (Edwin Chadwick). He took up causes which became obsessions, a relentless utilitarian who was an advocate of powerful state intervention and his self conviction made him arrogant and intolerant (Bloy). His work at the Poor Law Commission brought criticism as being an utilitarian (Bloy). At first, he had only half-hearted support from the commissioners: Sir Thomas Frankland Lewis and John G. Shaw-Lefevre(Bloy). However, when they resigned, Chadwick met strong opposition from their successors: George Cornewall Lewis and Sir Francis Head (Bloy). In 1846, the Poor Law Commission came to an end because of the disagreements between the two commissioners. Chadwick's vigor and impatience is what contributed to the breakup (Bloy). After the breakup, he became commissioner of the Board of Health between 1848 and 1854 when it was merged in the local government board. Chadwick was extremely unpopular and was pensioned off on 1000 pounds a year. His public closed, but he continued to campaign his ideas. Therefore, his ideas were still accepted by the government and society, but it was his negative character that brought him down.

Repairing Fleet Street Sewer in London

Edwin Chadwick's ideas were important in his lifetime because by the 1860s and 1870s, European cities were making real progress towards adequate water supplies and sewage systems (A History of Western Society.721). City dwellers started to have better health and death rates started to decline. His work on improving sanitation led to other revolutions such as the Bacterial Revolution to have effective control of diseases and health care. In 1884, he received knighthood. He may have been a difficult man to work with, but as a whole, many people benefitted from his work (Trueman). Chadwick is influential today because without his ideas of the government taking account for the health of people and the sanitation of the populace, people would be suffering from diseases, death and poverty to this day. His creative innovations that he added to society such as removing excrement and adding iron pipes and tile drained are still used today. Therefore, without Edwin Chadwick, we would be living in the unsanitary environment from the 19th century.

Citations: (Pictures)

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Sir Edwin Chadwick." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 16 Dec. 2009. Web. 29 Jan. 2017. <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Edwin-Chadwick>.

Wolters, Eugene. "| Jeremy Bentham’s Preserved Corpse Will Haunt Your NightmaresCritical-Theory.com." Critical-Theory. 13 July 2013. Web. 30 Jan. 2017. <http://www.critical-theory.com/jeremy-benthams-preserved-corpse-haunt-nightmares/>.

"May 7, 1848: English Public Health Act." This Day in Water History. 07 May 2014. Web. 30 Jan. 2017. <https://thisdayinwaterhistory.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/may-7-1848-english-public-health-act/>.

Limited, Alamy. "Stock Photo - Meeting of the General Board of Health, Gwydyr House, Whitehall, London. Figure Seated on Right Is Edwin Chadwick (1800-1890." Alamy. Web. 29 Jan. 2017. <http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-meeting-of-the-general-board-of-health-gwydyr-house-whitehall-london-57295693.html>.

"Edwin Chadwick : Champion Of The Poor." CITI IO. Web. 29 Jan. 2017. <http://www.citi.io/2015/02/27/edwin-chadwick-champion-of-the-poor/>.

"Inner Temple." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Web. 30 Jan. 2017. <https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inner_Temple>.

"Inner Temple." Web. 29 Jan. 2017. <http://www.suggest-keywords.com/aW5uZXIgIHRlbXBsZQ/>.

Citations: (Information)

History.com Staff. "Thomas Paine." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 29 Jan. 2017. <http://www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/thomas-paine>.

"BRIEF HISTORY DURING THE SNOW ERA." BRIEF HISTORY DURING THE SNOW ERA. Web. 30 Jan. 2017. <http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/snow/1859map/chadwick_edwin_a2.html>.

Trueman, C. N. "Edwin Chadwick." History Learning Site. 16 Aug. 2015. Web. 29 Jan. 2017. <http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/a-history-of-medicine/edwin-chadwick/>.

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Sir Edwin Chadwick." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 16 Dec. 2009. Web. 29 Jan. 2017. <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Edwin-Chadwick>.

Artman, Kathleen. "Edwin Chadwick." Edwin Chadwick. Web. 29 Jan. 2017. <http://www.choleraandthethames.co.uk/cholera-in-london/cholera-in-soho/edwin-chadwick/>.

Bloy, Marjie. "Edwin Chadwick." Edwin Chadwick. Web. 29 Jan. 2017. <http://www.victorianweb.org/history/chad1.html>.

"SIMON." SIMON. Web. 29 Jan. 2017. <http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/snow/1859map/chadwick_edwinbio_a4.html>.

"Science Museum. Brought to Life: Exploring the History of Medicine." Edwin Chadwick (1800-90). Web. 29 Jan. 2017. <http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/people/edwinchadwick>.

Created By
Insoo Kang
Appreciate

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.