Chartism Essay

952 Words Sep 30th, 2008 4 Pages
In Britain, the tough times of the late 1830s and 1840s, sometimes called the “hungry forties”, and the underwhelming increase in voters in the Reform Bill of 1832 gave birth to a political movement named Chartism. Chartism was a movement based on improving the political, social, and economic conditions of the working class and is considered the first mass working class movement in the world. The main points of the Chartist movement are defined in the People’s Charter, a document calling for six changes: universal manhood suffrage, the end of the property requirement for Parliament members, annual elections, equal electoral districts, and an income for Parliament members (Doc. 1). During the years of the Chartist movement there was much …show more content…
In his newspaper, the Northern Star, he spread and argued his beliefs including the use of force to implement the People’s Charter if nonviolence failed. One such edition published after the 1848 revolutions in France, Italy, and Germany stated that the British were the only people in Europe to not yet revolt. Remarks such as this would eventually leave him in prison for 18 months (Doc. 5 & 8). While there was in fact a violent faction of Chartists -- O’Connor’s newspaper at its apex would circulate to 50,000 people--, a general lack of interest, especially in London, caused the minority group to never grow. They were almost only found in the cities of Northern England (Doc. 4). While there never was a revolution, strikes did occur. One consisted of pulling the plugs on steam boilers that powered industries to prevent their use. More than a thousand were arrested including O’Connor. The most violent conflict happened in Wales in 1839 when John Frost led an attack on a hotel in Newport, though dozens of troops were stationed there at the time and the attack failed miserably with 20 or so Chartists dying. The majority of Chartists fell under the category of “moral force” Chartists who wanted to campaign peacefully for the passing of the People’s Charter. Many workers saw their campaign to be similar to what the middle class had done before they had obtained the right to vote. Many workers, including Chartist women,

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