Chartists represented their cause in the form of protests. These can be generalised into the categories of: Riots And Uprisings Petitions, Meetings and conventions
Newport Uprising Plug Plot Riots Bull Ring Riots How much do you know about these? Proceed
Riots and Uprisings The chartists struggle for reform included protests in the form of riots and uprisings. These were the favoured method of protesting by the PHYSICAL FORCE chartists. Examples of Riots and Uprisings: The plug plot riots-1842 The Newport Uprising-1839 The Bull ring riots- 1839 One of the major figureheads within the Physical force chartists was Feargus O’Connor. He was the original publisher of The Northern Star- one of the persuasive newspapers that promoted Chartism and the more violent methods shown by the Physical force chartists. Many Moral Force Chartists accused his creation of the East London Democratic Association as the center-point of the Chartists failure.
The Newport Uprising of 1839 The event itself was caused by the imprisonment, due to inflammatory speeches, of Henry Vincent, during May 1838. Welsh Chartists, such as John Frost, objected to this and formed a mass protest to march through Newport to show the strength of feeling against this act. News of this circulated and the Newport Constabulary feared an armed siege that would promote chartist victory and cause a national moral boost for all Chartists. On the 4 th November 1849, John Frost and 3,000 more welsh chartists rallied outside of The Westgate Hotel where Vincent was being held and chanted for his release. 28 soldiers proceeded to begin firing into the crowd and over 70 were injured. 20 of which were killed. DIRECT IMPACTS (short term)- Frost and several others were ordered to be hung, drawn and quartered, yet this sparked more protests across the country so the decision was repealed and transport to Tasmania was its replacement. LONG TERM IMPACTS- the event caused national chartist protests due to the armed attack from the soldiers onto the unarmed protestors. Therefore this was an excellent speaking point for the ‘voices’ of the chartists. Such as Feargus O’Connor.
The Bull Ring Riots of 1839 June 1839- Attwood, an MP for Birmingham, introduced the Charter to parliament. On 1 July the Convention reconvened in Birmingham and on 4 July 1839 the Bull Ring riots took place. A posse of London policemen was called into clear the Bull Ring because meetings there had been banned in May. There were clashes between the police and people which led to rioting and the troops were called out. Two Chartist leaders were arrested. Birmingham was usually moderate so the Birmingham Political Union withdrew its support from the Chartists at this time. It was the magistrates who called in the police - who were then attacked by the Chartists after the police seized the Chartists' banners. The trouble continued on into the following day so Lovett raised the issue at the Convention. He proposed a series of resolutions criticising the authorities and opposing the arrests, even though he usually opposed violence. Lovett took sole responsibility for the resolutions and consequently he also was arrested. At that point, the Convention returned to London. Short term impact- Increased pressure on the Commons to consider the petition, ESPECIALLY due to the support of Benjamin Disraeli. Long term impact- The chartists petition was still deemed not worthy by the commons, realism set in, the government started to act on the offensive and the chartists were deemed ‘paper tigers’. The convention collapsed. The violent nature shown by the chartists warned off a strong ally. The middle classes.
Plug Plot Riots of 1842 May 1842- Thomas Duncombe presented a chartist petition including 3.25 million signatures. The document demanded the six acts, complained about the wars against Liberty, the police force, the 1834 poor law, factory conditions and church taxes on nonconformists. The petition was heavily rejected by the Commons. Many riots in industrialised areas sprang out due to the decision. These were know as the Plug Plot. Chartists such as Feargus O’Connor claimed that the riots had nothing to do with chartists. Yet, when the Duke of Wellington dispatched the army to deal with the situations many chartist leaders were found guilty, one of which was the elusive Feargus O’Connor. More Riots
As a last gasp method of attempting to re-prove themselves, the chartists took place in more riots and uprisings: Trafalgar Square riots, 1848 Where riots broke out due to police brutality at a peaceful chartist meeting at Trafalgar square. The riots continued for 2 days later in Charing Cross. The chartists assumed that the event was entirely at the fault of the police and other civilians and that the civilians arrested were not chartists. The Orange Tree Plots, 1848 The remaining strong, radical chartists in the remnants of a convention planned an uprising but due to increased police spy activity they were easily identified and arrested. A figurehead of this final uprising was William Cuffay. This seemed like the last rising from the chartists, a point where it all went crumbling downwards. Or was that happening all along? Back to Main page
Petitions, Meeting and Conventions Moral Force Chartists were more in favour of Petitions Conventions Meetings Non-violent protests
What do most of these methods of protest have in common? Proceed
The Petitions to Parliament The 1 st PetitionThe 2 nd petitionThe 3 rd petitionThe others. 1839 The large script with 1,280,958 signatures on, stretched for just under 3 miles. It was presented to the Commons on the 14 th of June and was rejected with 235 votes to 46. There was little hope for the petition in the first place. So the chartists saw this as a goal to pursue. 1842 The largest of the 3 petitions contained 3,315,752 signatures and reportedly ran for around six miles. The door to the houses of commons had to be dismantled to submit the script. Despite this show of strength they were rejected at 287 to 49 1848 This petition was presented shortly after the mass rally at Kennington Common and was highly anticipated. However the document contained only 1,975,496 signatures, rather then the original 5.7 million, stated by O’Conner. Due to this the document was soon rejected. The chartists forced other petitions onto the House of Commons. Most of which lacked in backing and were written when the main Chartist figureheads had been transported. These include: The Prisoner petition ( to demand the release of chartists such as O’Conner and Lovett) The fourth petition The fifth petition.
The forgotten petition of 1841 The fustian jackets and the national petition- May 1841, many chartists gathered to surround eight stone-masons who were taking a petition containing 1.3 million signatures to the Houses of Commons. It is hard to see how this petition was forgotten as it had an understandably high amount of signatures and was the most successful. The votes were tied 58-58 and the speaker then cast his vote against it. Chartists began to give up due to this, with their main figureheads in prison and all confidence drained
The Land plan-1845 The land plan aimed to resettle industrial workers on smallholdings by collecting small share contributions from Chartists and allocating farms by lot. After the conventions in London and Birmingham the National Land Company was set up to sell around 100,00 shares so that the money could be used to allocate farmland to members. In four years, the National Land Company attracted 70,000 shareholders, raised more than £100,000, acquired a total of 1,118 acres. The scheme collapsed in recriminations by 1851, having failed to find a proper legal basis for its activities, and embroiling O'Connor in arguments about its finances.
Conventions Delegates had been sent from around the country, with the north best represented with 20 out of the 53 delegates. The convention was soon embroiled in internal wrangling over tactics, relations with the anti-Corn law movement and the next steps to take. In particular there were divisions over what to do if the Charter was rejected. In May 1839 the Convention moved to Birmingham. It now considered various points, including a ‘sacred mouth’ (general strike) and arming chartist supporters. Tensions rose throughout the country. Mass meetings were held at Hartshead moor (21 May) and Kersall Moor (25 May) among others. On July 12, 1839 the Charter was presented to Parliament. Containing over 1,280,000 signatures it was summarily rejected by 235 votes to 46. 1842 – Another convention in London, The final preparations for its petition to Parliament were made at this convention which gathered on 12 April 1842 at the same venue as its 1839 predecessor, Though still weakened in some respects from the experiences of 1838-39, and middle class support peeling away in favour of the National Complete Suffrage Union, the National Charter Association achieved something remarkable in the 1842 petition. From across the country, the Chartists collected an impressive 3,317,752 signatures for the "National Petition of the Industrious Classes" - more than twice the number who had signed in 1839. And this from an adult population of just under 10 million people. Motive behind conventions: Bind together all the small groups, organised the chartist movement and made it stronger. This united the idea’s, gave opportunity to small, radical groups to suggest other ideas to push the cause forwards.
Publications The First examples : The Poor man’s Guardian - Henry Hetherington The working man’s friend - James Watson Weekly Police Gazette – John Cleave, sold over 40,000 copies a week. The Charter - William Lovett (the leader of the Chartists) also edited a newspaper. The Champion - a journal inspired by the ideas of William Cobbett. Northern Star - was published on 26th May, 1838, Feargus O'Connor The Weekly Police Gazette, The charter and The Champion were all written and published by supporters of the moral force. Newspapers were an efficient way of passing on information, of gaining support and of receiving more ideas to be successful.
Rival Political Organisations The people’s Charter union During the course of 1848, Chartist organisation began to fracture. Small and often short- lived new bodies were formed, each with its own variation on the Chartist agenda. One such was the People's Charter Union. Founded as the London Charter Union on 22 March 1848, this included much of what the historian Edward Royle called “the ‘old guard' of Chartism who had constituted the backbone of London radicalism at the birth of Chartism”. Anti-corn law league Trade depression in the late 1830s and a run of bad harvests brought resentments to the boil and in March 1839 the Manchester businessman Richard Cobden took the lead in uniting separate anti corn law associations in London and Lancashire into a single Anti Corn Law League. (1839) Complete suffrage union Throughout 1842, after the rejection by Parliament of the second People's Charter petition, moves were made to try to unite the middle class reformers of Joseph Sturge's Council of the Complete Suffrage Union and the more working class National Charter Association in a single body. (1841)
IMPACT Which type of protest had the biggest impact? Why did this have such a big impact?
www.chartists.net Chapter 10- Heinman Advanced History www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/