The Reform League was established in 1865 to press for manhood suffrage and the ballot in Great Britain. It collaborated with the more moderate and middle class Reform Union and gave strong support to the abortive Reform Bill 1866 and the successful Reform Act 1867. It developed into a formidable force of agitation at the very heart of the country. During the autumn and winter of 1864-65 members of the Universal League for the Material Elevation of the Industrious Classes planned to form a new organisation which would concentrate solely on manhood suffrage. As a result the Reform League was established on 23 February 1865 and the Universal League for the Material Elevation of the Industrious Classes became defunct. The Reform League's founders were mostly the same men who had been known as the Propagandists and had been lead by John Bedford Leno. Leno was elected a member of the Reform League's council almost unanimously. The barrister, Edmond Beales, was made president of the League and George Howell the Secretary. Other senior members included George Odger, Charles Bradlaugh, William Randal Cremer, Lt. Col. Dickson, Captain Dresser Rogers and J. Batty Langley. During the first few months of the League's existence, it proved important that Howell's role was a full time one that was paid for by a few wealthy supporters. This enabled him to concentrate on marketing the League in newspapers and communicating announcements of the Reform League's Executive Committee. This helped recruit supporters. New branches were rapidly opened in both London and the provinces. During its first year the League received donations of £621, of which £476 came from rich Radicals such as P.A. Taylor MP, Samuel Morley MP and Sir Wilfred Lawson MP. In the 1865 election Liberal Members of Parliament (MPs) who were sympathetic to the working classes entered the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the first time. This gave great encouragement to the Reform League.