Richard Cobden was significant because he was a major force who pushed for the abolition of the Corn Laws in Great Britain. These laws had restricted free trade in grain between Britain and other countries. When free trade is restricted, the prices of goods tend to rise because the producers in a country do not have to compete with those outside the country. This is what happened in Great Britain.
Cobden was a small businessman who came from a middle class background. In the course of his work, he came to believe in the need for free trade. He felt that free trade would make life easier for average people in Britain. He also hoped that free trade would bring about world peace because countries would be tied together by trade and would not want to fight one another any longer.
Cobden eventually became a member of Parliament. In that capacity, he was the main negotiator of the Cobden-Chevalier Treaty that reduced tariffs on trade between France and Britain.