Chartists and Chartism Essays

Good Essays

Chartists and Chartism

Chartism was the name of a variety of protest movements in England during the 1830s and 40s, which aimed to bring about change in social and economic conditions through political reform. Its name comes from the People’s Charter, a six-point petition presented to the House of Commons with the hope of having it made law. The six point included annual parliaments, universal manhood suffrage, abolition of the property qualification for members of the House of Commons, the secret ballot, equal electoral districts, and salaries for members of Parliament.

This was the first independent working-class movement in the world, that is, not simply sporadic uprisings or agitation, and arose after the Reform Bill of …show more content…

The Convention then proclaimed a general strike, but many had no employer to strike against, and the Convention broke up after riots in various parts of England and Wales, with many leaders arrested and troops sent in by the government. A similar petition was presented in 1842, another bad time, with even more signatures, and was again firmly rejected. Again there were strikes; again leaders were jailed.

1848, the year Mary Barton was published, saw a final demonstration by the Chartists. This time they had collected over 5,000,000 signatures and the presentation to the Parliament was attended with great ceremony; an impressive parade carried the wagon-loads of signatures to the House of Commons. This was the year of revolution in Europe--there had been revolts in Paris, Vienna (3), Venice, Berlin, Milan, Rome, and Czechoslovakia--and the British government was desperately afraid of large-scale demonstrations. Many troops were deployed in London and the petition failed again, which brought about the virtual end of Chartism.

` The supporters of Chartism were from different working-class groups, but all were victims of the Industrial Revolution. One group consisted of the older handicrafts and domestic skills--those who worked on commission in their homes, at looms or knitting-frames, under the so-called “putting-out” system, where their materials were supplied by a factor or middleman who later came to collect the finished work. The other main group was

Get Access