The Industrial Revolution created social tensions and posed practical problems that shaped the politics of the period, affecting much of social and cultural life. Most commentators analysed society in terms of the three-class model anchored in the economics of Adam Smith. The three-class model provides insight into the politics of the Industrial Revolution. ‘Reform and democracy’ looks at key events that resulted in the evolution of a pre-industrial England, where economic life was conducted in a legal framework handed down from the medieval and Elizabethan periods, to the country at the end of the Industrial Revolution. These include the French Revolution, the Napoleonic wars, and the Reform Bill of 1832.