Who were the chartist leaders and what did they stand for?
William Cuffay (1788 - 1870) During 1848 Cuffay was one of three London delegates at the National Chartists Convention and was considered one of its most militant leaders. The main task of the convention was to organise a march to London to present a chartists' petition to the House of Commons. He is entirely representative of the working class movements, Cuffay’s significance is illustrated by a contemporary report in The Times which referred to "the black man and his party". He had been treated and convinced that workers needed to be represented in parliament, he became involved in the struggle for universal suffrage
Feargus O'Connor (c.1796 - 1855) Feargus, during agitation for reform in the early 1830s, emerged as an advocate of Irish rights and democratic political reform. He also brought about the creation of the northern star, which he established in 1837, provided the most effective link between the different strands of working class labourers. He developed an idea to buy up agricultural estates, divide them into smallholdings and let these to individuals. This developed into the 'National Land Company' (1845 - 1851). The scheme O'Connor's behaviour became increasingly irrational, possibly as a result of syphilis. was a disaster and soon went bankrupt.
In 1839 he helped to form the Metropolitan Tailors' Charter Association and soon became an important figure in the Chartist movement in London. He was elected to the national executive of the National Charter Association in 1842 and later that year voted president of the London Chartists. In the summer of 1848 Cuffay became involved in a conspiracy to lead an armed uprising against the government. Cuffay’s actions where fundamental to creating the structure of the chartists, after he was deported to Tasmania the chartists lost structure and it eventually resided with the Kensington common debacle which fundamentally scarred Chartism.
He was well-known for his charismatic and incendiary speeches and his efforts laid the groundwork for Chartism. This was essentially an umbrella movement (named after a six point charter of demands) of the 1830s and 1840s which drew together many strands of radical grievance. O'Connor's newspaper 'The Northern Star', which he established in 1837, provided the most effective link between these different strands. O’Connor was responsible for part side of the administration of the chartist layout, he was responsible for the movement of the charter from kensington to the house of commons. Under his creation of the northern star, the chartists were able to produce effective information for the working classes. We’ll crown him with laurel, our champion to be: O’Connor the patriot: for sweet Liberty!