CHARTISM

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People joined the charttist movement because of:

  • Poor working conditions in factories and mines
  • Poor living conditions
  • The 1832 reform act - workers expected the vote but did not recieve it
  • ANGER at the 1834 poor law - which threw paupers into the harsh and cruel workhouse instead of helping them.
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The most important reason was?

Trade was BAD, this lead to low wages, factories closing, unemployment, poverty, starvation. Workers were desperate. They joined the charist movement when times were hard.

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The aims of Chartism - The people's Charter

  • A vote for every man of 21 years of age.
  • secret ballot- to protect the voter and to stop corruption and bribery
  • no property qualification for members of parliament - so a consituency can vote in any person of their choice.
  • payment of Mps- so a working man can become an MP and not starve.
  • Equal Constituencies - to make sure that there was the same amount of voters in each area of the country.
  • Annual Parliaments - A vote every year
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Charter was passed what did workers believe?

Workers would have a say in the running of the country. Their views would have to be listened to by the MPs and the government, and therefore laws would be passed to improve their dreadful living and working conditions.

  • Workers would be able to vote
  • Workers would be able to become MPs

Therefore working in parliament could then pass laws to improve the lives of all workers. If MPs did not make improvements they would be voted out of power nexttime.

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Who supported the Chartists?

  • The vast majority of member were workers
  • At the beginning of the movement there was a lot of middle class support
  • However the middle class left the movement in the early 1840s as chartists agitation become more violent
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who were the moral force chartists

  • Led by William Lovett
  • they used peaceful methods
  • They used discussion, persuasion, orderly meeting, peaceful demonstrations processions and pamphlets
  • they wanted the charter without violence and without breaking the law
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how did the Moral force and physical force chartis

  • it is important to remember that the split in the movement made it much weaker than a united chartist movement would have been
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Who were the physical force chartists?

  • led by Fergus O'connor
  • They used violent methods
  • They would strike, got weapons and trained men how to use them.
  • O'conner wanted armed revolution
  • They believed peaceful methods would never changed anything.
  • Support came from the Northern Star newspaper
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Arguments for Both sides?

The Moral force

  • Most workers did not support violence and therefore it would fail
  • the army would easily crush any such rebellion that took place
  • violence convinced many people that workers did not deserve a vote.

The Physical force

  • Improving workers living conditions by cleaning up the towns would cost a lot of government money. The government did not want to spend money doing this.
  • peaceful protests would never be listened to
  • unless something was done immediately it could take years for the government to take any action to improve workers conditions.
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The Events 1838-1839 and 1842

  • 1838 there were a series of huge open air meetings addressed by the chartists leaders.
  • The first chartist petition, containing one a quarter million signatures was brought to parliament in a decorated cart.
  • The government rejected the petition by 235 votes to 46.

The Newport Rising 1839

  • The most serious violence was in wales were mining conditins were dreadful.
  • The most famous evenet was the Newport Rising of November 1839. Led an attack on the town by 5,000 miners with the aim of releasing the chartist leader from jail.
  • As the chartists approached they were met by musket fire.
  • 24 chartists were killed and 125 arrested --> Led to O'connor being more aggressive.

However there was less chartist activity during the period 1840-41 because the main leaders were in jail and trade improved.

Phase  - 1842

As the chartist leaders came out of jail in 1842, the chartists gathered themselves for another effort. A second petition was drawn up containing three and a quarter million signatures. The petition was six miles long and was carried to Parliament in a huge procession of over 100,000 people accompanied by brass bands. Unfortunately for the chartists the petition was rejected in May 1842 by 287 votes to 49 by the government.

Phase 3 - 1848

  • Early in 1847 another trade depression hit the country.
  • Many people had no jobs.
  • A new petitionwas completed this time containing only 5 points and it had almost 6 million signatures.
  • An open air rally was arranged on Kennington Common on April 10th 1848 which would be followed by a mass march to parliament to present the petition.
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The government responce to Chartism

  • The army was increased by 5,000 men
  • New police forces were set up in Manchester, Bolton and other industrial areas
  • Troops were rushed to the trouble spots using the new railway system
  • Marches were banned
  • Spies told the government about chartist plans
  • Troops were positions at key points during the Kennington Meeting
  • 150,000 special constables were signed up to prepare for big chartist meetings.
  • Chartists leaders were arrested put in jail and transported.
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Chartism failed because of Many reasons?

Bad trade

  • Trouble flared up and chartist membership increased when times were bad for the workers for example low wages, shorter hours, unemployment, poverty and desperation.

Bad Leadership

  • The split did not help the movement- the two sides argued with each other rather than government. This weakened the Chartist movement.

The Government Actions

  • The government always acted quickly and strongly
  • Also see card 12 about the government's responce

Middle class support was never won

  • The middle calss was needed to persuade the parliament to pass the charter
  • The middle calss had money and respectability - which could help the chartists
  • Most were frightened when chartists became violent.

The most important reason for the chartism failure was because of trade, trade improved in the late 1840s and support faded away, becayse people had jobs and money and food so they didn't bother with Chartism anymore!

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The importance of chartism

  • Perhaps the most contribution that the movement made was that it focused attnetion of the dreadful conditions of the workers.
  • Laws were passed to improve living and working conditions (the Mines Act 1842 and the factory Act 1844 and the Public Health Act 1848) all followed in the 1840s
  • Chartisim had given the working people hope for a better future
  • Later groups took on the ideas of the Chartists and carried them forwards
  • Over the next 80 years the chartists ideas for change were gradualy accepted
  • 5 of the 6 points eventually became law.
  • All men aged 21 could vote and Secret ballots for elections
  • Property qualifications for MPs were abolished
  • Payment of Mps were introduced
  • Constituencies bcame approximately equal.
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