When John Stuart Mill was elected in the "blue-ribbon" liberal constituency of Westminster, there was great interest in seeing how a man of intellect would stand the practical political test. The watershed parliament of 1865-8 in which he served saw the growing polarization of politics between the new Liberal Party and the Conservatives. Mill gained greater eminence - and notoriety - by promoting women's suffrage, proportional and working-class representation, Irish land reform, and racial justice, and generall attempting to radicalize the Liberal party. But in 1868 he was defeated in controversial circumstances, and returned to private life.
This detailed study places the political and personal beliefs and behaviour of Britain's leading philosopher in the context of the crucial changes resulting from the growing democratization of society and culture in Britain. His electorial triumph and subsequent defeat ate studies as revealing both individual character and public perception. Central is the effect on Mill's reputation of his insistence on moral principle in tension with flexible political pragmatism. The authors also cast light on election campaigning in a key urban constituency being transformed from a radical stronghold to a conservative bastion.