Essay about Chartism: Women's Suffrage and National Political Movement

996 Words Aug 13th, 2012 4 Pages
Chartism was a working-class political movement calling for the extension of the franchise that emerged in the mid-1830s. Motivated by a sense of ‘betrayal’ by the actions of the Whig government and the impact of a deep economic depression between 1837 and 1842, it saw political reform as essential if the living and working conditions of working people were to be improved. The power of the spoken and written word played a central role in Chartism and the foremost demagogue of the movement was Feargus O’Connor, whose rhetoric in all its ambiguity and exaggeration was published in his newspaper, The Northern Star. His speech at York, reported in the Star on 6 July 1839, was in favour of a motion that: “every male adult of the kingdom …show more content…
The campaign for democratic reform began around the Battle of Waterloo and fluctuated alongside economic pressure. In 1838, the democratic reform was reborn as ‘Chartism’. Chartism became a national political movement, a group of people working together to achieve a political goal, and was one explanation for the support of Chartism. The creation of the ‘People’s Charter’ (1838), incorporated the principles of Cartwright, proposing all that the poor and working class desperately needed. Chartism gave the people a voice and with that voice, gave the solutions they sought. One answer to people’s woes was addressed by the speaker of the extract, which was, “a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work”. FLOW The motion favoured at this meeting was Universal male suffrage – i.e. all adult males over 21, of ‘sound mind’...not undergoing punishment for crime, should have the vote...’. QUOTE ASS BOOKLET Although this was a radical step, they omitted to go above the hierarchical nature of British society at the time and include the vote for women. Women, ‘seldom spoke on public platforms’ (Thompson, 1984, pp 120-1, RB, pg 39), however, Lovett, amongst other Chartists, were in agreement that women should have the vote.
There are two separate economic issues within Chartism though O’Connor and addresses both. First, there was the issue of the ‘Old Corruption’, a radical concept that
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