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Richard Cobden – Manchester Citizen to ‘International Man’

An exhibition tracing Richard Cobden’s life, career and legacy

Richard Cobden (1804-1865) is usually remembered as leader of the Anti-Corn Law League, which campaigned for free trade in food during the ‘hungry forties’, but his public career embraced far more. He was a supporter of educational reform, press freedom, and extension of the vote. He was a leading figure of the international peace movement, a critic of British foreign policy, and an opponent of slavery and imperialism. However, before he became the ‘international man’, Sussex-born Cobden was an active Manchester citizen: a contributor to local societies and leading campaigner behind the establishment of Manchester’s first elected municipal council.

Ground Floor
Turn left after Archives+ entrance:
Cobden and Manchester
Anti-Corn Law League Manufacturer

First Floor (Displays found throughout primary corridor outside Reading Room):

Man on the Make to ‘Manchester Manufacturer’
Educational Reformer
Anti-Corn Law Leaguer
Apostle of Free Trade
Peace Campaigner
Champion of the Press
Treaty Negotiator
Friend of America
Family Man

Displays in Reading Room:
Death and Memorialisation
Legacy and Inheritance

The exhibition is part of a project led by Leeds Beckett University and the University of East Anglia and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, which is making thousands of Cobden’s letters available online and using his correspondence to develop teaching materials around the theme of active citizenship.

Free – just drop in – please consider making a donation to support our cultural programme if you can, either online or at one of our cash or contactless donation boxes in Central Library