A história

Cartistas de força física


Em novembro de 1836, Feargus O'Connor juntou-se à London Working Mens 'Association. No ano seguinte mudou-se para Leeds, onde criou um jornal semanal, o Estrela do norte, que apoiou a reforma do Parlamento. O jornal foi um grande sucesso e, na primavera de 1839, vendia mais de 48.000 exemplares por semana.

Feargus O'Connor era altamente crítico de líderes como William Lovett e Henry Hetherington, que defendiam a Força Moral. O'Connor questionou essa estratégia e começou a fazer discursos nos quais falava em estar disposto a "morrer pela causa" e prometer "levar as pessoas à morte ou à glória". O'Connor foi influenciado pelas táticas anteriormente adotadas por pessoas como Henry 'Orator' Hunt e Daniel O'Connell. Embora esses homens não defendessem o uso da força, eles advertiam constantemente os que estavam no poder sobre os perigos da violência se a reforma não acontecesse.

Em um discurso em Manchester, Feargus O'Connor deu uma data, 29 de setembro de 1839, para ação violenta se o Parlamento não concedesse os seis pontos da Carta. Os discursos de O'Connor indignaram Lovett e Hetherington e ele foi excluído da plataforma de uma reunião em massa organizada pela London Working Men's Association.

O'Connor respondeu formando uma nova organização cartista, a East London Democratic Association. Os discursos e artigos de jornal de O'Connor tornaram-se mais ameaçadores e ele foi culpado pelos cartistas da Força Moral por encorajar John Frost e o malsucedido Newport Rising em 4 de novembro de 1839.

Outros apoiadores da Força Física, como James Rayner Stephens e George Julian Harney, foram presos durante 1839. Feargus O'Connor também foi preso e em março de 1840 foi julgado em York por publicar calúnias sediciosas no Estrela do norte. Ele foi considerado culpado e condenado a dezoito meses de prisão.

Após sua libertação da prisão em agosto de 1841, Feargus O'Connor assumiu o controle da National Charter Association. Seus ataques cruéis a outros líderes cartistas como Thomas Attwood, William Lovett, Bronterre O'Brien e Henry Vincent dividiram o movimento. Alguns como Attwood e Lovett, que não queriam ser associados às ameaças de Força Física de O'Connor, decidiram deixar a National Charter Association. Após os Plug Riots de agosto de 1842, O'Connor foi julgado por sua participação na rebelião. Ele foi absolvido da maioria das acusações e escapou de ser mandado para a prisão por um tecnicismo.

RG Gammage escreveu: "Que O'Connor tinha o desejo de tornar as pessoas mais felizes, nunca discutimos em nossas vidas. Ele teria dedicado qualquer quantia de trabalho para esse fim; mas havia apenas uma condição na qual ele consentiria em servir o povo - a condição era que ele deveria ser seu senhor; e para se tornar assim, ele parou para bajular seus preconceitos mais indignos e, ao mesmo tempo que lhes dizia que deveriam depender de seu julgamento, ao mesmo tempo assegurou-lhes que não foi ele quem lhes deu conhecimento, mas que, pelo contrário, foram eles que lhe conferiram o conhecimento que ele possuía. "

Feargus O'Connor e outros defensores da Força Física também estavam dispostos a usar os métodos associados aos Cartistas da Força Moral. Por exemplo, em 10 de abril de 1848, O'Connor organizou uma grande reunião em Kennington Common e então apresentou uma petição à Câmara dos Comuns que alegava conter 5.706.000 assinaturas. No entanto, quando foi examinado pelos parlamentares, tinha apenas 1.975.496 assinaturas e muitas delas eram falsificações. Moral Force Chartists acusou O'Connor de destruir a credibilidade do movimento cartista.

O fracasso da manifestação de 10 de abril danificou severamente o movimento cartista. Em algumas áreas, o Cartismo da Força Física ainda permaneceu forte. Uma reunião dirigida por Feargus O'Connor em Leicester em 1850 teve a participação de 20.000 pessoas. Também houve grandes reuniões em Londres e Birmingham. No entanto, o renascimento do comércio reduziu a quantidade de insatisfação com o sistema parlamentar. Os candidatos cartistas se saíram muito mal nas eleições gerais de 1852 e nas vendas do Estrela do norte caiu para 1.200. Na época em que Feargus O'Connor morreu em 1855, o movimento cartista havia chegado ao fim.

Se Abraão estava pronto para matar seu único filho, devemos vacilar quando Deus nos ordenar que desembainhemos a espada e nunca embainhemos aquela espada até que ela seja embainhada no coração de seus inimigos? Deus não deseja a morte de nenhum homem; nem é a vontade de Deus que uma Poor Law Commission, do tipo que agora amaldiçoa a Inglaterra, seja jamais estabelecida. Rogo a Deus que lance todos eles para o inferno.

Fussell disse que eles deveriam fazer uma petição à rainha para lhes dar o sufrágio universal ou eles o tomariam à força. Muitos disseram que teríamos ou morreríamos por isso. Smallwood então discursou na reunião. Ele disse que se a rainha não lhes desse o sufrágio universal, eles se juntariam à insurreição e se declarariam uma república. Parks então discursou na reunião. Ele disse que preferia morrer lutando por seu país do que viver como escravo. Ele perguntou quantos havia na sala armados e preparados. Cerca de 12 a 20 disseram que sim.

Os magistrados pensam em prejudicar a nossa reunião com atos de violência? Eu, pelo menos, acho que sim, e se formos atacados hoje, aconteça o que acontecer, vida, morte ou vitória, estou determinado que nenhuma casa cobrirá minha cabeça esta noite. Estou pronto para cumprir a lei e não dar a nossos tiranos a menor vantagem em nos atacar em seções; mas eles deveriam empregar força contra nós. Estou repelindo ataque por ataque.

Exigimos o sufrágio universal porque acreditamos que o sufrágio universal trará felicidade universal. Era o tempo em que todo inglês tinha um mosquete em sua cabana e junto com ele um punhado de bacon; agora não havia nenhum pedaço de bacon porque não havia mosquete; se o mosquete fosse restaurado, o pedaço de bacon logo se seguiria. Você não receberá nada de seus tiranos, exceto o que você pode tomar, e você não pode tomar nada a menos que esteja devidamente preparado para isso. Nas palavras de um bom homem, então, eu digo 'Arme-se para a paz, arme-se para a liberdade, arme-se para a justiça, arme-se para os direitos de todos, e os tiranos não mais rirão de suas petições'. Lembre-se disso.

Fiz investigações minuciosas sobre o assunto das armas que foram recebidas pela carruagem neste lugar e cheguei à conclusão de que a informação que me foi transmitida na primeira instância foi calculada para dar uma impressão exagerada do fatos reais do caso. As investigações que fiz apenas me permitiram rastrear com certeza três pacotes distintos de armas e mosquetes, todos parecem ter chegado aqui da vizinhança de Birmingham e um dos quais vinha acompanhado de uma cesta pesada. Desses pacotes, dois foram enviados daqui para Pontypool, dois para Tredegar, ambas cidades neste condado cercadas por siderúrgicas. É extremamente provável que vendedores ambulantes de passagem pelo condado encontrando grande demanda por armas e mosquetes os encomendem da maneira usual dos negócios, sem saber ou se importar com a finalidade a que se destinam. Eu sei que clubes foram recentemente estabelecidos neste bairro, para os quais os homens contribuem com pequenos pagamentos periódicos para obter armas em sua cidade, e fui informado algum tempo atrás que armas e mosquetes foram comprados com avidez nas siderúrgicas vizinhas.

Também é do meu conhecimento que esforços ativos estão sendo feitos para incitar à violência os trabalhadores empregados nos Collieries e persuadi-los de que, em qualquer curso que possam perseguir, eles não terão a oposição dos soldados que não agiriam contra eles. Já existe nesta cidade há alguns meses uma Sociedade Cartista - alguns dos seus membros fazem periodicamente circuitos nas aldeias vizinhas e distritos mineiros para obter assinaturas para a petição cartista e contribuir para a renda nacional. Os missionários frequentam bares e cervejarias onde um grupo pequeno ou grande, conforme o caso, foi reunido. O missionário expõe a eles as queixas sob as quais eles trabalham, diz que metade de seus ganhos são retirados deles em impostos, que esses impostos são gastos no apoio aos governantes na ociosidade e no esbanjamento - que seus empregadores são tiranos que adquirem riqueza com seu trabalho, que os grandes homens ao seu redor possuem propriedades às quais não têm direito de que esses males sejam curados pelos cartistas, mas que o povo deve assinar a petição cartista e contribuir para o aluguel cartista, que se suas demandas não forem pacificamente concedidas, eles serão justificados o recurso à força e que não precisam temer derramamento de sangue porque os soldados não agirão e uma carta é normalmente lida para confirmar a declaração feita a respeito do sentimento da soldadesca.

Fortalecidos pela chegada dos homens enviados pelo Ministro do Interior, os magistrados reuniram-se no hotel e decidiram prender os indivíduos contra os quais os mandados eram expedidos; e, para se preparar para o pior, mandara o pregoeiro pedir a presença imediata dos policiais especiais então na cidade. Entre quarenta e cinquenta obedeceram ao chamado e, perambulando diante da pousada, observando os procedimentos, estavam os homens idênticos que as autoridades estavam tão ansiosas por prender: foram apontados à polícia, que imediatamente os levou sob custódia e os prendeu -los dentro do hotel. Diante disso, o sinal de alarme foi dado, e a notícia da prisão chegou aos que estavam reunidos na ponte em muito pouco tempo. Esta multidão, com o número aumentado pelo caminho, logo chegou à vista do hotel, onde viram os policiais e policiais especiais preparados para recebê-los. A visão os surpreendeu, mas foi apenas o impedimento momentâneo que represou as águas para uma corrida mais impetuosa.

Sem armas de alguma descrição, seu grande número não era páreo para a polícia e os especiais, armados com seus cajados de ofício. Conseqüentemente, eles se retiraram por alguns momentos para obter tudo o que pudessem obter na forma de armas - revólveres, cajados, lanças, garfos de feno, foices e até pás foram rapidamente apreendidos pela turbulenta turbulência!

Algumas das mulheres que se juntaram à multidão instigavam os homens a atacar o hotel - uma velha virago jurando que lutaria até ficar com o sangue até os joelhos, antes que os cockneys tirassem seus prisioneiros da cidade. Ela, com outras pessoas do seu sexo, reuniu grandes montes de pedras, que posteriormente usaram para desfigurar e ferir o edifício que continha os prisioneiros. Quando a turba se armou dessa forma, a palavra 'Avante!' foi dado e, assim que puderam ouvir a polícia, exigiram imperativamente a libertação de seus amigos, pedido esse que foi recusado, é claro. O que aconteceu durante os próximos minutos não pode ser facilmente verificado; ambas as partes posteriormente acusaram a outra de começar a briga. Os policiais especiais, muitos dos quais conhecidos entre a multidão, foram vistos cedendo à aproximação dos cartistas e buscando sua segurança no hotel ou confiando em suas pernas. Quando seu pedido foi negado, a turba deu um grito terrível e avançou em direção à porta da estalagem; os desordeiros afirmando que a polícia de Londres começou o conflito atacando um deles, o que os exasperou ainda mais e os fez gritar por 'vingança!' bem como a libertação dos prisioneiros. Eles afirmam ainda que o ex-prefeito, ao descobrir que estava trancado do lado de fora para garantir sua própria segurança, de repente pareceu simpatizar com a multidão, clamando "cartistas para sempre"; e, com um pedaço de pau que tinha na mão, quebrou a primeira vidraça, iniciando assim a turba na obra de destruição.

As mulheres seguiram o exemplo assim dado, atirando pedras em todas as janelas da casa, enquanto os homens avançavam e tentavam arrombar a porta da frente, por onde a polícia havia se retirado. O pensamento de sua presa escorregando por entre seus dedos enfureceu a multidão, que enviou repetidas chuvas de pedras nas portas e janelas; o último foi logo quebrado em mil fragmentos. Em seguida, as armas foram disparadas pela porta, que, depois de resistir a todos os seus esforços por algum tempo, foi finalmente aberta. A multidão rapidamente se espalhou pela casa em busca de seus companheiros, que encontraram algemados na cozinha. Eles foram imediatamente conduzidos a uma oficina de ferreiro, onde seus gyves foram destruídos. Descobrindo-se os donos da casa, a ralé começou a caçar os policiais, contra os quais sua animosidade era agora dirigida. O prefeito com um dos policiais se retirou para os quartos, mas o último (Blenkhorn) foi logo encontrado e arrastado de debaixo da cama; sua pistola e seu bastão foram arrancados dele, e o primeiro foi apresentado em sua cabeça. Ele foi então violentamente abusado por todos que estavam ao seu alcance, até que suas feições machucadas e sangrando comoveram os corações de alguns dos mais compassivos, que correram grande risco para salvar sua vida, pois somente com sua vida alguns dos rufiões sejam apaziguados.

O prefeito (cirurgião de profissão) também foi encontrado em um dos quartos. Ele ficou bastante assustado quando foi levado para a rua; mas uma idéia feliz ocorreu a ele, - ele apelou para sua natureza melhor, relembrando para suas memórias como ele salvou a vida de suas mães ao conduzi-los (os cartistas) ao mundo. Ele tocou a corda certa; seus corações se abrandaram e eles permitiram que ele voltasse para sua casa sem machucá-lo.

Que O'Connor tinha o desejo de tornar as pessoas mais felizes, nunca em nossas vidas contestamos. Ele teria dedicado qualquer quantia de trabalho para esse propósito; mas havia apenas uma condição sob a qual ele consentia em servir ao povo - a condição era que ele deveria ser seu senhor; e para se tornar assim, ele parou para lisonjear seus preconceitos mais indignos e, ao mesmo tempo que lhes dizia que deveriam depender de seu julgamento, ao mesmo tempo assegurou-lhes que não era ele quem lhes havia dado conhecimento, mas aquele sobre pelo contrário, foram eles que lhe conferiram os conhecimentos que possuía.

Nenhum outro homem se curvou tanto para elogiá-los. Este foi um dos segredos de sua grande popularidade; mas era uma popularidade tão turbulenta quanto as ondas. Ele inchou, borbulhou e espumava por um tempo, apenas para retroceder e ser perdido para seu antigo possuidor. Um desejo excessivo de popularidade, comprada a qualquer preço, foi o grande erro da vida de O'Connor. Isso o levou a emprestar sua influência, sempre que chegasse a hora, para derrubar todos os homens que prometiam rivalizá-lo na estima do povo.

Simulação de trabalho infantil (notas do professor)

Os cartistas (resposta ao comentário)

Mulheres e o movimento cartista (resposta ao comentário)

Transporte rodoviário e a revolução industrial (resposta ao comentário)

Richard Arkwright e o Sistema de Fábrica (resposta ao comentário)

Robert Owen e New Lanark (resposta ao comentário)

James Watt e Steam Power (resposta ao comentário)

O sistema doméstico (resposta ao comentário)

The Luddites: 1775-1825 (resposta ao comentário)

A situação dos tecelões de teares manuais (comentário da resposta)


Cartismo

Nossos editores irão revisar o que você enviou e determinar se o artigo deve ser revisado.

Cartismo, Movimento da classe trabalhadora britânica pela reforma parlamentar com o nome da Carta do Povo, um projeto de lei redigido pelo radical londrino William Lovett em maio de 1838. Continha seis demandas: sufrágio universal masculino, distritos eleitorais iguais, voto por cédula, Parlamentos eleitos anualmente, pagamento de membros do Parlamento, e abolição das qualificações de propriedade para a adesão. O cartismo foi o primeiro movimento de caráter operário e nacional que surgiu do protesto contra as injustiças da nova ordem industrial e política na Grã-Bretanha. Embora composto de trabalhadores, o cartismo também foi mobilizado em torno do populismo e também da identidade de clã.

O movimento nasceu em meio à depressão econômica de 1837-38, quando o alto desemprego e os efeitos da Poor Law Amendment Act de 1834 foram sentidos em todas as partes da Grã-Bretanha. A carta de Lovett forneceu um programa aceitável para uma população heterogênea da classe trabalhadora. O movimento ganhou importância nacional sob a liderança vigorosa do irlandês Feargus Edward O’Connor, que surpreendeu a nação em 1838 em apoio aos seis pontos. Embora parte da maciça presença irlandesa na Grã-Bretanha apoiasse o cartismo, a maioria era dedicada ao movimento de Revogação Católica de Daniel O'Connell.

Uma convenção cartista se reuniu em Londres em fevereiro de 1839 para preparar uma petição a ser apresentada ao Parlamento. “Medidas ulteriores” foram ameaçadas caso o Parlamento ignorasse as demandas, mas os delegados diferiram em seus graus de militância e sobre a forma que as “medidas ulteriores” deveriam tomar. Em maio, a convenção mudou-se para Birmingham, onde distúrbios levaram à prisão de seus líderes moderados Lovett e John Collins.

A parte final da convenção voltou a Londres e apresentou sua petição em julho. O Parlamento rejeitou-o sumariamente. Seguiu-se em novembro um levante armado da "força física" cartistas em Newport, que foi rapidamente reprimido. Seus principais líderes foram banidos para a Austrália e quase todos os outros líderes cartistas foram presos e condenados a uma curta pena de prisão. Os cartistas então começaram a enfatizar uma organização eficiente e táticas moderadas. Três anos depois, foi apresentada uma segunda petição nacional contendo mais de três milhões de assinaturas, mas novamente o Parlamento recusou-se a considerá-la. O movimento perdeu parte de seu apoio de massa no final da década de 1840, com a recuperação da economia. Além disso, o movimento para revogar as Leis do Milho dividiu as energias radicais, e vários líderes cartistas desencorajados se voltaram para outros projetos.

A última grande explosão do cartismo ocorreu em 1848. Outra convenção foi convocada e outra petição foi preparada. Mais uma vez, o Parlamento não fez nada. Daí em diante, o cartismo permaneceu mais uma década nas províncias, mas seu apelo como movimento de massas nacional acabou. Com o início da relativa prosperidade da Grã-Bretanha em meados da era vitoriana, a militância popular perdeu sua vantagem. Muitos líderes cartistas, no entanto, educados nos debates ideológicos da década de 1840, continuaram a servir a causas populares, e o espírito cartista sobreviveu à organização. Cinco dos seis pontos - todos exceto os Parlamentos anuais - já foram garantidos.

Este artigo foi revisado e atualizado mais recentemente por Amy Tikkanen, Gerente de Correções.


1 Hovell, M., The Chartist Movement, 3ª ed. (Manchester, 1966) Google Scholar West, J.. História do Movimento Cartista (Londres, 1920) Google Scholar.

2 Chartist Studies, ed. por Briggs, A. (Londres, 1959) Google Scholar.

3 Para uma coleção de estudos, buscando explicitamente o uso de evidências locais para iluminar temas específicos de importância nacional, ver The Chartist Experience: Studies in Working-Class Radicalism and Culture, 1830-60, ed. por Epstein, J. e Thompson, D. (Londres, 1982) CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

4 Prothero, IJ, "William Benbow and the Concept of the General Strike", in: Past & amp Present, No 63 (1974) Google Scholar id., Artisans and Politics in Early Nineteenth-Century London (Folkestone, 1979) Parssinen, TM , "Association, Convention and Anti-Parliament in British Radical Politics, 1771-1848", em: English Historical Review, LXXXVIII (1973) Google Scholar JC Belchem, "Henry Hunt and the Evolution of the Mass Platform", ibid., XCIII (1978) Epstein, J., The Lion of Freedom: Feargus O'Connor and the Chartist Movement, 1832–1842 (Londres, 1982) Google Scholar e G. Stedman Jones, “The Language of Chartism”, em: The Chartist Experience .

5 O foco principal está no sul, uma parte muito maior do distrito de algodão no sudeste de Lancashire e no Nordeste de Cheshire, que era mais militante e ativo em 1839 do que North Lancashire.

6 Vincent para Minikin, 26 de agosto de 1838, Minikin-Vincent Papers, Biblioteca do Partido Trabalhista.

7 Ver Sykes, R.A. , "Popular Politics and Trade Unionism in South-East Lancashire, 1829-42" (Ph.D. não publicado, Manchester, 1982), cap. 9, para um exame do radicalismo no CrossRefGoogle Scholar de 1830.

8 Manchester Guardian, 26 de setembro de 1838 Manchester and Salford Advertiser, 29 de setembro de 1838.

9 Houve reuniões com tochas em Stockport, Ramsbottom,, Bolton,, Rochdale,, Oldham,, Leigh,, Hyde e Bury,, veja especialmente Manchester and Salford Advertiser, 6 e 20 de outubro, 3, 10 e 17 de novembro, 15 12 1838 Google Scholar Northern Star, mesmas datas relatadas em Treasury Solicitor's Papers 11 / 815–16. Public Record Office, Londres.

10 Hyde Magistrates to Russell, 16 de novembro de 1838, Home Office Papers (doravante HO) 40/38, Public Record Office Treasury Solicitor's Papers 11/815/2683 e 2687.

11 Ver Phillipps para todos os magistrados locais, 15 de dezembro de 1838, HO 41/13 id. aos magistrados de Leigh, 24 de dezembro de 1838, ibid., para o sinal verde para a prisão de Stephens.

12 Manchester Guardian, 8 e 22 de maio Manchester e Salford Advertiser, 11 e 25 de maio.

13 Para reavaliações recentes que reconhecem a inter-relação dinâmica entre as estratégias cartistas de força moral e física, ver Epstein, The Lion of Freedom, op. cit., pp. 124–26 Maehl, W. H. Jr, “The Dynamics of Violence in Chartism: A Case Study in North-Eastern England”, em: Albion, VII (1975) Google Scholar.


The Peel Web

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Até que ponto Feargus O'Connor foi "a ruína do movimento cartista"?

Usar Feargus O'Connor como bode expiatório para o fracasso do Cartismo, como Gammage faz na questão, seria historicamente inadequado. Esta interpretação falha em reconhecer os outros fatores responsáveis ​​pela ruína do Cartismo - a falta de organização e cooperação entre os líderes, a necessidade do Cartismo ter alguma representação no Parlamento e a diversidade dos objetivos dos Cartistas, por exemplo - e é assim simplista demais. O'Connor foi apenas um dos muitos líderes do movimento cartista. Ele era, no entanto, o favorito do povo, uma vez que compartilhava das queixas do trabalhador. O'Connor conseguiu, no entanto, ter várias disputas com praticamente todos os outros líderes por causa de seu temperamento dominador. Por exemplo, em 1843, O'Connor se separou de Bronterre O'Brien por causa da solução controversa de O'Connor para a "Questão da Condição da Inglaterra", seu Plano de Terras. Esse esquema desastroso demonstra como O'Connor estava tão confuso quanto o movimento que liderava. Para que um movimento tenha qualquer chance de sucesso, o (s) líder (es) precisam estar separados de qualquer envolvimento emocional com as bases do movimento. O fato de O'Connor estar emocionalmente envolvido e compartilhar suas queixas pode explicar em parte o fracasso do Chartism.

Antes de examinar as razões do fracasso do Cartismo, é necessário dar alguma forma de identidade ao Cartismo. Não foi um movimento simples compreendendo uma seção descontente da sociedade. O cartismo não foi uma pequena camarilha em campanha por melhores condições de trabalho. O cartismo foi um movimento massivo, principalmente, mas não exclusivamente da classe trabalhadora, ao qual vários movimentos de reforma passaram a ser associados. Na verdade, pode-se dizer que o cartismo era tão decadente quanto o período em que apareceu. Os anos de 1830-50 foram de mudança sem precedentes na Grã-Bretanha, quando as forças do século XVIII estavam declinando e as novas forças do século XIX foram gradativamente ganhando predominância. As classes médias haviam sido emancipadas pela Lei da Grande Reforma de 1832. Embora essa reforma eleitoral fosse extremamente limitada por natureza e mantivesse o sistema aristocrático da sociedade em vigor, a Lei da Grande Reforma estabeleceu o princípio de mudança que resultaria em mais ampla reforma da Lei de Reforma de 1867 e a terceira Lei de Reforma de 1884. Na década de 1840, o livre comércio ganhou predominância sobre o protecionismo como resultado dos orçamentos de Peel de 1842 e 1844 e também de sua controvertida revogação das Leis do Milho em 1846. O cartismo era tão contraditório quanto o período porque foi formado pelo radicalismo do século XVIII de homens como Lovett e Place e os novos descontentes do socialismo do século XIX.

Como Sir Charles Napier percebeu, o caráter diverso do cartismo e sua organização inepta significavam que as tropas de Napier poderiam facilmente suprimir as tentativas de rebelião dos cartistas. O cartismo foi um movimento em que os descontentes contraditórios das classes trabalhadoras coexistiram. Assim, Ernest Jones percebeu que uma divisão dentro do cartismo em "movimentos paralelos" indicaria sua morte. Embora Jones tenha percebido em 1852 que "a união é a única garantia de sucesso" para o povo, o cartismo se caracterizou por grandes divisões. Em Londres, o Chartism foi dividido entre a força moral da London Working Men's Association e a força física da East London Democratic Association. A incapacidade dos artesãos cartistas de Londres de cooperar com os estivadores predominantemente do East End da ELDA é semelhante à falha da LWMA em cooperar com os cartistas de Birmingham. A União de Sufrágio Completo de Joseph Sturge ameaçou assumir o controle do Cartismo com seus planos de fazer campanha apenas pelo sufrágio universal, o que Lovett e Place não gostavam. Os "movimentos paralelos" dentro do cartismo que Jones pensava que levariam ao fim do cartismo já haviam aparecido na década de 1840. O'Connor denunciou essas variações - Church Chartism, Teetotal Chartism, Knowledge Chartism e Household Chartism - em um artigo na Northern Star como "calculado para levar a uma disputa setorial e partidária" (Northern Star, 3 de abril de 1841). Além de discordar de O'Brien em 1843, O'Connor também se separou de Harney em 1849 por causa do republicanismo vermelho de Harney.

A falta de habilidades organizacionais dos cartistas pode ser adequadamente demonstrada pelo fato de que o mês sagrado de 1839, que deveria ser amplamente apoiado, só foi realmente tentado em Bolton. Sir Charles Napier, que comandou 6.000 soldados no Distrito Norte em 1839, percebeu que, "Nós temos a força física, não eles" (extraído de The Life of Sir Charles Napier, 1857). Com a "força física" de 6.000 soldados treinados e a organização eficiente do governo, Napier poderia facilmente suprimir o motim ingênuo dos cartistas. O governo de Melbourne e, depois de 1841, o governo de Peel usaram a rede ferroviária e o sistema telegráfico para suprimir os distúrbios. Como consequência disso, os cartistas acreditavam que o governo tinha à sua disposição um 'exército permanente'. Isso era um grande exagero, pois em 1840 apenas 108 bairros de 171 tinham uma força policial organizada.

Uma vez que o Cartismo ganhou predominância nos "Hungry Forties" (1838-42), não foi surpresa que tenha declinado depois que as reformas de Peel começaram a funcionar. Por meio das reformas socioeconômicas de Peel - seus orçamentos de livre comércio de 1842 e 1845 e o Bank Charter Act de 1844, por exemplo - as condições econômicas foram melhoradas e as razões socioeconômicas para a existência do cartismo foram removidas. Assim como O'Connor chamou Peel de "um cartista incipiente" em 1846, Harney reconheceu em 1848 que "Quando o comércio é bom, a agitação política é uma farsa" (Northern Star, 2 de setembro de 1848). Essa melhoria socioeconômica combinada com o uso repressivo do governo dos sistemas ferroviários e telegráficos ajudou a arruinar o movimento cartista.

Embora O'Connor possa ser culpado pela multiplicidade dos objetivos dos cartistas, por ter resistido às tentativas de Sturge de reduzi-los a um, ele não era mais culpado do que os outros líderes cartistas. Segundo Wilson, O'Connor e outros líderes cartistas como Joseph Rayner Stephens "foram os verdadeiros pioneiros em todos os grandes movimentos de seu tempo". Esses movimentos, significativamente, foram fracassos - a campanha Anti-Poor-Law, o movimento das Dez Horas e o Sindicalismo, por exemplo. Portanto, pode-se dizer que, uma vez que o cartismo nasceu do fracasso, era provável que retornasse ao fracasso. Além de promover essas campanhas, os cartistas fizeram campanha pelos seis pontos da Carta - sufrágio universal masculino, voto secreto, distritos eleitorais iguais, parlamentos anuais, a abolição da qualificação de propriedade para deputados. e pagamento de MPs. Os cartistas estavam, portanto, pressionando por muito, muito cedo na promoção de uma resposta política para um problema econômico O'Connor e os outros líderes cartistas refletiam "a confusão dos seres comuns em face da crescente complexidade social" (J. MacAskill).

Ao contrário da Liga Anti-Corn-Law, os cartistas tinham problemas devido à falta de financiamento e à falta de representação parlamentar. Ambos os problemas foram em grande parte devido ao fato de que o apoio do cartismo era principalmente da classe trabalhadora. A classe trabalhadora era o setor mais pobre da sociedade e, conseqüentemente, tinha pouco ou nenhum dinheiro sobrando para sustentar um movimento como o cartismo. Os cartistas não tinham representação parlamentar para apresentar seu caso ao parlamento como resultado da Lei da Grande Reforma de 1832, que privou de direitos uma grande parte da classe trabalhadora. A necessária representação parlamentar, que desempenhou um papel tão significativo em garantir a revogação das Leis do Milho, não foi concedida aos cartistas até que Feargus O'Connor foi eleito para o parlamento em 1847. Nessa época, era tarde demais em grande parte por causa da reformas socioeconômicas da década de 1840. O'Connor tentou resolver os problemas econômicos dos cartistas por meio de seu Plano de Terras no final da década de 1840. No entanto, as ações eram caras demais para a classe trabalhadora ser capaz de pagar e O'Connor perdeu a maior parte de seu dinheiro no esquema.

O'Connor teve a infelicidade de chegar à liderança do movimento cartista depois que ele já havia começado a falhar. O declínio do cartismo após 1842 é, portanto, visto como culpa de O'Connor pelo historiador Gammage, simplesmente porque ele foi o principal líder cartista de 1842 em diante. No entanto, os líderes cartistas da classe média ou artesãos que haviam dominado o cartismo entre 1836 e 1842 foram os mais responsáveis ​​pela ruína do cartismo, pois permitiram que a força física dos cartistas ganhassem predominância sobre o cartismo ao não persuadir o parlamento a aceitar a Carta em 1839 e 1842 , e também porque abandonaram o cartismo depois de 1842. Os líderes mais respeitáveis ​​do cartismo abandonaram o movimento porque se desencantaram com o frequente recurso das bases à violência. Lovett, Place e Hetherington se envolveram em um esquema educacional de auto-ajuda para os trabalhadores e Sturge se envolveu mais em um esquema pela paz mundial. Em contraste com esses líderes cartistas moderados, O'Connor defendeu o cartismo em todos os seus fracassos e pode-se dizer que foi uma influência sustentadora. Isso foi através de sua propriedade da Estrela do Norte, o que ajudou a dar um foco ao Chartismo e dar-lhe um senso de continuidade. Ao contrário de outros jornais cartistas, como The Charter e The Democrat, que desapareceram rapidamente, o Northern Star esteve em circulação de 1837 até o esgotamento do cartismo em 1852. Em seu apogeu, o Northern Star vendeu mais cópias do que o Leeds Mercury e as vendas médias em 1839 foram cerca de 36.000 cópias por semana. In contrast to O'Connor's Land Plan, therefore, the Northern Star was a financial asset to O'Connor and was central to the Chartist movement. The positive influence O'Connor exercised over Chartism as a result of his ownership of the Northern Star was recognised by Harney when he said, "I am convinced that even in this respect, were O'Connor thrown overboard, we might go further and fare worse" (from a letter by G.J. Harney to F. Engels, 30 March 1846).

Contrary to Gammage's opinions Feargus O'Connor did not ruin Chartism but sustained it. If it had not been for O'Connor's efforts through the Northern Star , Chartism would have disappeared soon after the moderate Chartists had deserted it in 1842. Because of Chartism's diversity of aims and membership, its lack of organisation, the lack of parliamentary representatives, and the repressive actions of the government, Chartism was a spent force by 1842. This was partly a result of the fact that Chartism was a reflection of the decadent period 1830-50 and "was essentially an economic movement with a purely political programme" (from G.D.H. Cole, A Short History of the British Working Class Movement 1789-1847 , 1948, p. 90). Chartism also declined dramatically in the 1840s because of the free trade work of Peel, which improved the standard of living of the working class. Considering the fact that Feargus O'Connor died in a lunatic asylum in 1855, it can be argued that Chartism ruined O'Connor rather than the other way round. His controversial Land Plan soaked up all the profits he made from the Northern Star . O'Connor passionately believed in Chartism but the fact that Peel's socio-economic reforms had improved the lot of the working man ensured that O'Connor's efforts were in vain.

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Physical Force Chartists - History

Chartism was a movement established and controlled by working men in 1836 to achieve parliamentary democracy as a step towards social and economic reform. The Charter made six political demands but the organisation was Utopian and naive in the belief that constitutional reform would automatically provide socio-economic betterment.

Perhaps Chartism was a matter of feeling. It was an emotional reaction against a changing economy and society, which was unjust and bewildering to the working man - a cry for help. It expressed the resentment of conditions and movements which had promised so much, but which had failed the working man.

Chartism was a product of industrialisation, but was also part of the radical tradition, which dated back to the mid-eighteenth century. Chartism represented the fundamental belief that economic exploitation and political subservience could be righted by parliamentary means.

Great social, political and economic changes took place between 1830 and 1850, speeded up by railways. The balance shifted from old 18th century values to new commercial values agriculture declined as industry flourished. It was an age of paradox, with old and new values in equipoise, to determine the 'Condition of England Question'. Even contemporaries were confused.

Chartism was a paradox because it reflected this society. It attracted its support from all those with a sense of grievance — whatever the grievance was about — and took in old-fashioned outlooks/philosophies and fears of craftsmen as well as new outlooks, fears of factory workers and the growth of Socialism.

Chartism's strength peaked in times of depression and unemployment, i.e. 1838-39 1842 1847-48. To a great extent, Chartism was a "knife and fork, a bread and cheese question" as Joseph Rayner Stephens said on 24 September 1838 when he spoke at Kersal Moor, Manchester, in favour of universal suffrage. Chartism was born under the Whigs and ended under Peel's economic reforms, although the Chartist leaders (certainly) and members (perhaps) were politically motivated.

Chartism was the first specifically working-class movement, although 'Chartism' and 'working class' are both terms that cover regional variations and all types of working men: artisans to factory workers. They also cover diversity within industries, setting workers against workers: cotton/wool factory/hand workers. Chartism was strongest in

  • centres of old decaying industries e.g. textiles and stocking-making
  • single industry towns like Stockport.

It was weak in agricultural areas and the south-west. Each area had its own grievances, leaders and priorities. National unity was more apparent than real. Chartism's strength was derived from its ability to encompass the dissatisfactions and discontents of most working-class people. This encouraged every person or group with a grievance/mission/political demand to join the Chartists.

The debate on the nature of Chartism

  • the sympathetic saw it as a simple cry of distress
  • suspicious conservatives saw it as a disguise for pillage
  • sophisticated conservatives saw it as a socialist restructuring of society
  • classical conservatives saw it as an attack on property, and thus on civilized society, so it had to be resisted in the best interests of all
  • working men hoped for prosperity, political rights and libertarian reforms - a range of aspirations from old-style radical to new-style socialism
  • above all, Chartism was seen as a protest against hunger and physical suffering. Bad government was thought to be its cause and universal suffrage, as embodied in the Charter, to be its remedy

Chartism was born of hunger, despair, desperation and failure and had a number of causes.

The Chartist movement failed because it tore itself apart:

Chartism had no money because it was born of poverty. Self-destruction was almost in-built. The "Charter" was the only bond of unity to several distinct movements — a standard to rally round. There were almost as many types of Chartism as there were Chartists and this was a factor against its immediate success although the movement was significant in terms of the development of working class movements.


Looking at History

There was a remnant of Luddism, centred on Leicester and Loughborough and the craft industries. Its strength came from the economic plight of the hand frame knitters[1]. Domestic industry was unable to compete with the factories. Leicester Chartists had no sympathy for or with Yorkshire woollen or Lancashire cotton Chartists because they had nothing in common with them[2]. It was a small movement, more akin to the London silk-weavers. They objected to the industrial revolution per se. The problems came from mass-production and factories superseding crafts.

In 1836, the Leicester Radical Working Men’s Association was formed from several strands of discontent: political disillusionment from the 1832 Reform Act the struggle for the unstamped press fear of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act and, economic depression. The Association had a programme for universal suffrage, secret ballot and triennial parliaments. In 1834, the framework knitters’ attempt to form a union failed, and wages continued to fall. By the spring of 1838, they could earn 7/- for a full week’s work. Stocking weavers could earn 4/6d. In February 1838, it was decided to re-form the union because in 1837 the new workhouse to accommodate 500 paupers was begun in Leicester. The horrors of the workhouse were visible to thousands of framework knitters who were intermittently or permanently unemployed. Also in 1838, the People’s Charter was launched, providing the necessary inspiration for Leicester Chartism. In August of that year the Loughborough Political Union was formed. It was a traditional radical organisation, but by October had 7,000 members. The Leicester Political Union was formed in October 1838 based on the six points plus grievances over indirect taxes, Corn Laws, Poor Law and mistrust of the middle classes

  • Peace, Law and Order.
  • Labour is the source of all wealth
  • It is better to perish by the sword than by hunger
  • No Poor Law Bill
  • Away with oppression and justice for Ireland
  • The rights of the people and nothing less
  • The restoration of Poland
  • Liberdade e Prosperidade

They had a real medley of causes and it is difficult to determine what “Chartism” here meant. Leicester Chartism was a mixture of practical working-class grievances, Socialism and non-conformist liberal Christianity but November 1838 marked a break with the middle-class liberals. During the winter of 1838-9, there was violent language against the middle-classes in Leicester. There were also reports that Loughborough framework knitters were buying arms and raising funds to sent delegates to the National Convention.

Leaders of Leicestershire Chartism

John Markham initially was a shoemaker, then an auctioneer and furniture broker. He was self-educated, shrewd and level-headed. He was probably the most statesmanlike of the Leicester Chartists. He was not violent, although he could be provoked into violent language.

Thomas Cooper[3] went to Leicester from Greenwich in November 1840 to work for the Leicester Mercury. At that point, he had scarcely heard of Chartism but was appalled at the plight of the stockingers. He rapidly identified himself with Chartism and wrote a few articles or the struggling Chartists paper, The Midlands Counties Illuminator. He was dismissed by the Leicester Mercury por esta. Cooper took over the Illuminator and became secretary of the Leicester Chartist Association. He began to conduct open-air preaching, lecturing and moved into journalism. There was a marked increase in Chartist membership from 460 in October 1841 to 732 by December 1841. Cooper was a Baptist preacher and cobbler by trade and had an insatiable appetite for all kinds of reading. Initially he supported O’Connor and was verbally violent an intellectual Luddite but too violent for Leicester and not violent enough for the National Charter Association. He set up the Shakespearean Association of Leicester Chartists, which met in the Shakespeare Rooms in Leicester. It had c. 3,000 members by the end of 1842. In August 1842, at the same time as the Plug Plots, there was a turnout of colliers. Cooper was arrested in Manchester by the time, he returned to Leicester the Chartist organisation had collapsed. He left Leicester for good in March 1843 he broke with O’Connor in 1845 over the Land Plan and joined Lovett’s education scheme.

John Skevington was regarded as the natural leader of Chartists in Loughborough. He appears to have used his influence to prevent violence. He was arrested in August 1842 and was blamed for causing coal strikes. His arrest caused a clash between the police on the one hand and the miners and Chartists on the other. Skevington was a Methodist preacher and a democrat. He died in 1850.

Many Chartist leaders were framework knitters: Finn was prominent in 1838 with his plan for co-operation between workers and employers to regulate conditions in factories Buckley was the most active Chartist leader after 1846. Even Chartist leaders who were not framework knitters were fully aware of and sympathetic to the demands of the stockingers.

Further Developments

In 1842, the Chartists were split between Markham and Cooper although in August 1842 the mass strikes and meetings which were attended by 5,000 to 6,000. The Riot Act was read and stones were thrown at the Yeomanry. This caused the ‘Battle of Mowmacre Hill’. The strikes collapsed within a week. Chartist activity in Leicester declined after 1842 as it did elsewhere. However, although the turnouts, demonstrations and anti-Poor Law riots ended, the organisation remained intact.

In 1844, a public meeting was held, addressed by White, and the Chartist Adult Sunday school was formed. In 1846, Thomas Wheeler was sent as the Leicester delegate to the National Convention in Leeds and was elected as the secretary to the Convention. In addition, Feargus O’Connor’s Land Plan got enthusiastic support. The divisions healed after Cooper left and new leaders emerged: Henry Green (a grocer) and George Buckby (the framework knitters’ leader).

In 1848, there was a Chartist revival, with a meeting of about 80,000 people all of whom seemed to support the Charter. Buckby was sent as their delegate to the National Convention but there was another split between Markham and Green who wanted an alliance with the middle classes while Buckby and Warner who wanted to follow an independent physical force line. George Bown, a veteran radical for over fifty years, published Physical Force in which he advised workers to “get arms”. Police began arresting the leaders. Chartism continued for another five years (to 1853) with meetings, agitations and so on. Chartists became involved in borough elections and turned their attention to other and potentially more fruitful activities.

Comentários

[1] William Felkin History of the Machine-wrought Hosiery and Lace Manufacturers, 1867 2 nd ed., with introduction by S.D. Chapman, David & Charles 1976 is the most useful near-contemporary history of hosiery. F.A. Wells The British Hosiery Trade, London, 1935 2 nd ed., revised and extended, London, 1972 is the best modern study.

[2] J.F.C. Harrison ‘Chartism in Leicester’, in Asa Briggs (ed.) Chartism Studies, Macmillan, 1959, pages 99-146 remains the most detailed examination. The book by A. Temple Patterson Radical Leicester. A History of Leicester, 1770-1850, London, 1954 is broader.

[3] Thomas Cooper The Life of Thomas Cooper, 1872, reprinted with an introduction by John Saville, Leicester, 1971 is a major autobiography by a key player in 1842. Robert J. Conklin Thomas Cooper the Chartist (1805-1892), Manilla, 1935 is the most recent full-length biography. Stephen Roberts’ work on Cooper is the most recent and accurate: ‘Thomas Cooper in Leicester 1840-1843’, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, volume 61, 1987, ‘Thomas Cooper: Radical and Poet, c.1830-1860’, Bulletin of the Society for the Study of Labour History, volume 53 (1), 1988, ‘The Later Radical Career of Thomas Cooper, c.1845-1855’, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, volume 64, 1990 and ‘Thomas Cooper: A Victorian Working Class Writer’, Our History Journal, volume 16, 1990. Joseph O. Baylen and Norbert J. Grossman (eds.) Biographical Dictionary of Modern British Radicals since 1770, volume 2: 1830-1870, Brighton, 1984, pages 155-159 is shorter.


In Uncategorized on April 11, 2011 by kmflett

Moral & Physical Force in the British Labour Movement
The UKUncut occupation of Fortnum & Masons over tax avoidance concerns and the more robust attacks on West End shops that took place in the wider context of the 500,000 strong TUC March for the Alternative last month have provoked quite a political debate.
One piece in The Guardian argued that there has been a moral and physical force element of popular protest in the British labour movement since the days of Chartism in the 1840s.
The reality is a little more complex.
It is true that there were moral force Chartists, who campaigned around issues like abstention from drink to hit Government taxes and provoke political change as well as personal change in the lifestyle of the abstainer. But these were a very small section of the Chartists who provided more than their fair share of chroniclers of the period.
Another Chartist tradition was that of exclusive dealing which has considerable similarities with the activism of UKUncut. Here Chartists refused to patronise shopkeepers who did not support the call for the vote. They often went further and occupied and shut the offending shops.
A third Chartist tradition was that of the armed rising. It is now accepted that events in early November 1839 in Newport where an attempt was made to spark revolution and numbers of Chartists were shot down by a crack British Army regiment were a very serious attempt to seize political power.
It is doubtful though if these traditions were in fact separate any more than we can or should separate UKuncut activists from the broader anti-cuts movement.
The distinction between moral and physical force Chartism is one largely created by historians of the Fabian mould who wanted to re-create the history of Chartism by emphasising its gradual and peaceful elements and minimising its more confrontational side.
Not many historians, by contrast, have argued that there was a specific armed tradition in the British working class. There is a case for this from the attempts at armed revolution in 1817 to Luddite and Captain Swing protests in the 1830s and the quite widespread arming of Chartists with pikes and sometimes guns.
Yet most historians have felt that to isolate an armed tradition is the wrong way to look at things.
A key Chartist slogan was ‘peaceably if we may, forcibly if we must’. In other words peaceful methods of achieving change were to be preferred. If they failed then force might be needed. Those who marched peacefully but on occasion wielded a pike were not different but often exactly the same people.
There have been violent incidents in British working class since, mostly relating to sabotage- as in the 1926 General Strike when a train was derailed, but the use of arms has not featured since the 1840s and the rise of organised labour and mass protest.
The much more common form has been what is often now called non-violent direct action which frequently involves protesters sitting down-for example at Faslane nuclear base.
Historically and this remains a current issue the State has a near monopoly of violence and is liable to use it on occasion.
From time to time- for example the Bloody Sunday demonstrations in Trafalgar Square in 1887 police action has killed protesters. The Metropolitan Police website is still denying responsibility for that today by the way.
An obsession that only peaceful methods of protest should be used comes from much the same political stable as the idea that society can only ever be changed by Parliamentary action. Both have a considerable constituency but if they don’t work, people may try other things as they did in the 1840s.

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One Response to “Moral & Physical force in the British labour movement”

I agree that the distinction is an artificial and retrospective one: perhaps the Rebecca Riots are a good example of moral AND physical force Chartism.

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Physical Force Chartists - History

Leeds Chartism stood out from that of other towns in the West Riding of Yorkshire for its moderation, and its success in contesting municipal elections. For more than a decade, Chartist candidates fought and won elections to the town’s Improvement Commission and subsequently to the town council itself. But what pushed the working class radicals of Leeds down such a route while just a few miles up the road the Bradford and Sheffield Chartists were preparing for armed insurrection? J.F.C. Harrison argued in Chartist Studies that this wholly different approach could be accounted for by three factors. The history of middle class radicalism in the town which gave middle class sympathisers an alternative home, and gave them the strength to stand apart from the Chartists. The different types of employment on offer to people locally in the woollen industry, where the economic distress of the late 1830s and early 1840s was not as keenly felt as in the cotton industry. The relocation, by Feargus O’Connor of his Northern Star newspaper from Leeds to London, depriving the town of some of its key activists and moving the centre of gravity away from what had always been a key centre of the movement.

On 23 rd September 1837, the first meeting of the Leeds WMA took place, following the meeting on Woodhouse Moor in late August. Bray, the treasurer, gave the address. The Leeds WMA contented itself throughout with lectures, addresses and the occasional protest meeting in an attempt to gloss over the divisions in the leadership. This failed in January 1838 at a meeting of the Leeds WMA where the speakers were Augustus Hardin Beaumont[1] (later briefly the editor of the Northern Liberator), O’Connor, Dr. John Taylor[2] and Sharman Crawford, MP. Their differences became apparent very quickly. Beaumont declared himself a physical force man and was received with groans. He then denounced “the dulcet tones of the very moderate Radicalism of Leeds”.

During the winter of 1837-38, militants were strengthened by four things. There was a struggle against the new Poor Law in the West Riding. The Commissioners had arrived in northern England late in 1836 to set up Unions even though the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act actually was intended to solve the problems of agrarian, rural poverty that mainly was found in the south. The trial of the Glasgow cotton spinners whose strike leaders were sentenced to transportation. There was a general trade depression. finalmente, o Northern Star turned out to be a phenomenal success.

o Northern Star is Leeds’s claim to Chartist fame. It began as a Barnsley paper for working men, advocating the abolition of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act and a renewal of the Trade Union and Ten-Hour movements but was taken over by O’Connor and moved to Leeds in 1837. Within four months of its establishment, it was selling 10,000 copies a week. The idea of a popular newspaper for the West Riding came from Joshua Hobson and William Hill. Hill, the son of a Barnsley handloom weaver, became a teacher, phrenologist and then pastor of Hull’s New Jerusalem Church. O’Connor had the money to start the Northern Star in Leeds. The paper was important because i t made the most powerful Chartist voice available to local Chartism. The paper gave detailed reports of any radical meetings anywhere in Yorkshire and became an institution of working class gatherings. It was widely read and public readings extended its audience considerably. It was socially educative and directed attention to burning social issues. It gave Feargus O’Connor a personal dominance over Chartism in the north. His followers had press backing and physical force dominated the Leeds WMA.

By May 1838, the Leeds WMA was no longer appropriate for the agitation wanted by O’Connor. Bray and the Owenites dropped out of the Association in 1838 and Nicoll died of tuberculosis in December 1838. In addition, the Leeds Times, under its new editor, became critical of O’Connor. In June 1838, the Great Northern Union replaced the Leeds WMA. Its inaugural meeting was held on Hunslett Moor the speakers were O’Connor, White, Rider, and John Collins from Birmingham. They spoke for outright measures: physical force. O’Connor hoped that the GNU would unite all the reform associations in the area. The national Chartist movement directed its efforts towards electing delegates to the national Convention after August 1838 and the GNU organised meetings in support of the Charter throughout the West Riding. On 15 th October 1838, a monster meeting was held on Hartshead Moor, Leeds. The site was chosen because it was equidistant from all the main towns in the West Riding and was a natural amphitheatre able to hold large numbers. It was set up like a fair food and drink were available and families attended. People came from Bradford, Huddersfield and Halifax in thousands, each group with its band playing and banners flying. Two hundred attended from Leeds. The people elected O’Connor, Rider and Lawrence Pitkeithly[3] as the West Riding delegates to the National Convention. Physical force was popular with West Riding Chartists.

In the winter of 1838-1839, vast torchlight meetings were held speeches and schemes became more violent and inflammatory. Even ‘moderate’ Leeds managed a 3,000 strong meeting on St. Peter’s Hill in February 1839 to hear George White speak. In 1839, the O’Connorites tried to set the pace of Leeds Chartism and Leeds had no movement to rival O’Connor’s pre-eminence. Also, Leeds was central to the area and there was a good deal of material to work on in the West Riding. Manchester was of little use to O’Connor because the Anti-Corn Law League was a rival to Chartism. The O’Connorites did not get the support they hoped for, and criticised the luke-warmness of Leeds men. 1 st April 1839 was Easter Monday. O’Connor, Hill, White, Rider and Dr Taylor addressed an open-air meeting in Leeds. There was much emphasis on physical force. White said he “was not so much a radical as a revolutionist [and] they would never get anything until they were able to take it by force”. Rider said, “The citadel of corruption cannot be taken by paper bullets. There is a crew … called physical force men who are trying for something more than argument. It is this that makes the Whigs and Tories tremble”. He urged men to arm and do more than petition. Rider believed that the petition would do little good, so he resigned from the National Convention. He then tried to retake his seat and was thrown out.

On 21 st May 1839, another meeting was held on Hartshead Moor (then known as Peep Green), and it was a model of peaceful organisation. No liquor was sold and the meeting was opened with prayers. Bronterre O’Brien said that the people were determined to have the Charter, “peaceably if they could, and forcibly if they must”. Also in May, Leeds’ magistrates enrolled special constables and assembled the yeomanry cavalry ‘in case’ there was trouble, although the town proverbially was peaceful. Chartist leaders feared arrest because this was happening to other leaders elsewhere. By this time, physical force men dominated the Leeds Northern Union: Rider, White, Jones and Charles Connor. Joseph Jones was a shoemaker and chair of the Leeds Northern Union Connor was an Irishman who said he was a ‘revolutionist’ and condemned the “sham radicalism” of the Leeds Times. The talk now was of ‘ulterior measures’ to secure the Charter: withdrawal of cash from the banks, abstention from all taxable luxury goods, exclusive dealing and the ‘national holiday’

In this atmosphere of rising tension, White was arrested in August for extortion by threats. He had been appointed by the Great Northern Union to collect subscriptions for the ‘National Rent in Leeds. He visited shopkeepers and traders with two books, a subscription book and a “Black Book”. If no cash was forthcoming, the trader’s name was written in the “Black Book” and ‘hints’ were dropped concerning bloodshed. The magistrates committed him to the York Assizes in April 1840 and he was refused bail. White verbally attacked “Whig justice” from the dock and got his bail. He was free in Leeds during the winter of 1839-40 and was active in the Chartist movement. The winter 1839-1840 saw the end of the first period of Chartism in the West Riding with a series of risings in Sheffield, Bradford and Dewsbury. The familiar pattern of unemployment, police spies and clashes with soldiers and subsequent arrests was to be found. In Leeds there was no rising.

In March 1840, White was sentenced to six months in prison and served a particularly rigorous sentence of hard labour, rigid discipline and no visitors. He became ill and fell off the treadmill twice. On his release from Wakefield gaol, White went to Birmingham as the correspondent for the Northern Star. In May 1840, Feargus O’Connor was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment for seditious libel. The collapse of the physical force wing was virtually complete and the Leeds Northern Union quietly disappeared.

The Chartist revival in Leeds was different from elsewhere. New leaders, a new policy and new methods were evident. More significant was the new form of organisation. The reformed movement was called the Leeds Radical Universal Suffrage Association. Membership was open to all wanting the Charter and using moral and lawful methods. The entrance fee was 2d and 1d per week in subscriptions and the Association used the Methodist ‘class’ idea for every twenty members. Officers were elected by ballot every two months. There is nothing new here: it was a revival of pre-Chartist radicalism and was very moderate. The physical force men lost all influence. By July 1840, the Leeds RUSA was flourishing and even Jones and O’Connor were allowed to join. In the autumn of that year, its name was changed to the Leeds branch of the National Charter Association. This was only a change of name, however: its policies and personnel remained the same. The new temper of Chartism is reflected in the direction of Chartist energies in Leeds: a variety of societies were set up with Chartist backing. These included: Leeds Total Abstinence Charter Association (January 1841) Hounslow Union Sunday School, conducted by teetotallers and Chartists Leeds Charter Debating Society lectures, addresses and discussions replaced processions and demonstrations and public speaking was practised on Sunday afternoons.

The Leeds Charter Association reported that the meetings, “get ever more respectable, are better conducted, less uproarious, and partake more of the reasoning and intellectual qualities”. The Leeds Chartists failed to get a mass following either because of, or in spite of their policy. Leeds Chartists remained a small group of able, intelligent enthusiasts: a general staff without an army. They were unable to ally themselves with moderate traditional radicalism or with the middle-classes. Neither the extreme nor the moderate Chartists could ally with the middle-classes because there was no common ground between them. In January 1839, Samuel Smiles[4] became the editor of the Leeds Times, which then took a distinct turn to the right. Under Nicoll, it had identified with Chartism in principle but this ended in mid-1840. Smiles became secretary of the Leeds Parliamentary Reform Association that advocated household suffrage. The paper also abandoned support of the Short-Time Committees in favour of the Anti Corn Law League.

Leeds Chartists feared competition from the Anti-Corn Law League in the winter of 1838-39 so they ‘captured’ or broke up Anti-Corn Law League meetings. There was no real objection to the repeal of the Corn Laws the Chartists merely feared a rival group. From early 1841, opposition to the Anti Corn Law League revived, because the Chartists said the anti-Corn Law agitation was an attempt to shelve the struggle for the Charter. Apparently, this was plausible because the Anti Corn Law League in Leeds declared for household suffrage. The Anti-Corn Law League tried to win working-class support and militant Chartists attempted to prevent it, trying hard to discredit the Anti Corn Law League and middle-class radicals, especially the “pigmy doctor”, Smiles. In 1841, the Conservatives under Peel won the general election, thus strengthening the case for a middle and working class alliance for repeal of the Corn Laws and fiscal reform. The Chartists had opposed the Whigs and let the Tories in, but militant Chartism in the West Riding was primarily a struggle against the middle class, making an alliance impossible. The obstacle was over universal suffrage. The middle-classes and Chartists all saw that political democracy eventually would lead to social democracy. If co-operation was to be achieved, it would not be in national politics. In Leeds, the opening for co-operation was found in local government.

[1] Augustus Hardin Beaumont (1798-1838) is the subject of a short biography in Joseph O. Baylen and Norbert J. Grossman (eds.) Biographical Dictionary of Modern British Radicals since 1770, volume 2: 1830-1870, Brighton, 1984, pages 46-48.

[2] Dr John Taylor (1805-42) can be examined in Joseph O. Baylen and Norbert J. Grossman (eds.) Biographical Dictionary of Modern British Radicals since 1770, volume 2: 1830-1870, Brighton, 1984, pages 495-497.

[3] Lawrence Pitkeithly (1800?-1858) is examined in Joseph O. Baylen and Norbert J. Grossman (eds.) Biographical Dictionary of Modern British Radicals since 1770, volume 2: 1830-1870, Brighton, 1984, pages 411-412. Pitkeithly was born in 1801 in Huddersfield. He was a weaver and ‘physical force’ Chartist following his work in Ten Hours Movement. He became a delegate to National Chartist Association meeting in Manchester. July 1840. He wrote to Dr. John Smyles (relative of Samuel Smiles), a former radical resident in Rochester, NY, about prospects in America, leaving Britain in 1842 for New York, contacted Bussey (and Devyr?) and SmyIes, but moved on to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He wrote articles on his trip in Northern Star but returned home in 1843. Pitkeithly died in Manchester in 1858.

[4] On Samuel Smiles (1812-1904), see Joseph O. Baylen and Norbert J. Grossman (eds.) Biographical Dictionary of Modern British Radicals since 1770, volume 2: 1830-1870, Brighton, 1984, pages 455-460. Alexander Tyrell ‘Class Consciousness in Early Victorian Britain: Samuel Smiles, Leeds Politics and the Self-Help Creed’, in Journal of British Studies, volume ix, (1970), pages 102-115 is more specific. Smiles was the editor of the Leeds Times from 1839. He condemned the government for using force to put down Chartism, but dissociated himself from physical force Chartists. Smiles proclaimed himself a Chartist in principle, and regarded the movement as principally “a knowledge agitation”, but few Chartists were prepared to work with him. Smiles later dropped even this dalliance, becoming secretary of the Leeds Parliamentary Reform Association, which advocated household suffrage, and moving his paper to the right by abandoning its support for shorter factory working hours.


The First Mass Movement in History

The Chartist movement, which lasted from 1836 to the 1850s, has been described as the first mass workers movement in history. In some ways it was. Chartism was a movement composed mainly of the working class that demanded the enactment of the People’s Charter, which would grant the vote to working class men.

The vote had been extended to a wider section of the propertied in 1832 amidst widespread fears of unrest. Propertied political radicals, who had previously courted working-class support to advance the extension of the suffrage to them, declined to endorse further extension supported the Poor Law of 1834, which instituted the workhouse backed vicious anti-trades union prosecutions and refused to repeal the newspaper ‘tax on knowledge’. Unsurprisingly, a surge of working class consciousness and independent political organization was the result.

Within this new movement were strands of thought associated with individuals such as James ‘Bronterre’O’Brien, George Julian Harney and Ernest Jones that stressed the need for the Charter ‘and something more’, which anticipatedthe later development of revolutionary socialism.

Working class consciousness and the democratic-socialism (at this time meaning variants of Owenite socialism) of many of the supporters of Chartism were only elements of a diverse movement. Rather than an early mass workers movement it is more plausible to see Chartism as a popular movement in which these elements were significant developments. Hence the survival of older radical forms such as the prominence of the ‘gentleman leader’in the movement, exhorting the working class from the orator’s platform, and utilising the threat of force as the dominant strategy. Prominent in this respect was Feargus O’Connor, a radical Irish aristocrat, whose oratory and newspaper, the Northern Star, dominated early Chartism and defined the mainstream of the Chartist movement.

There were others in the movement who, although often desiring the ‘something more’that they anticipated would result from the Charter, wished to moderate the element of social threat. These ‘moral force’Chartists were exemplified by the London Working Men’s Association which was influential in the early stages of the movement, and drew up the People’s Charter with the assistance of the wealthy political radical Francis Place. By taking a moderate approach they hoped to draw in the support of propertied political radicals who wished to advance the suffrage for their own ends such as abolition of the Corn Laws and free trade. The Birmingham Political Union, for example, was an important body in the early stages of Chartism, through which it hoped to advance the currency crank ideas of its leading member, the wealthy capitalist Thomas Attwood. This section dropped out of the movement, however, (along with most of the other early propertied supporters) when the gravity of the movement shifted towards the industrial centres, and the working class presence and the tone of social threat increased.

The increasingly resolute working class presence on the national political scene was expressed at the other extremity of Chartism by those on the ‘physical force’wing of the movement who wished to fan the flames of insurrection. Their approach was characterized by the deployment of extreme and provocative language to threaten the propertied into granting the Charter, backed up with secret organization and insurrectionary zeal. Exhortations for the people to arm were commonplace and intimidating torch-light processions took place in some localities (until they were banned). It is debatable to what extent many on this side of the movement really believed in the possibility of successful armed insurrection, but by 1839 this section was increasing in influence.

The insurrectionary element in the Chartist movement has fascinated left-wing historians who see in it a frustrated revolutionary potential from which a modern vanguard can learn lessons. Adding to this literature is a new history of the Chartist insurrectionaries of 1839 by David Black and Chris Ford (1839 The Chartist Insurrection, London, Unkant Publishing, 2012, £10.99). It is a compelling read, telling the story of Chartism through the experiences of George Julian Harney and other ‘firebrand’Chartist leaders such as Dr. John Taylor and examining the ill-fated Newport Rising of 1839. The authors provide a vivid account of the revolutionary potential that had built up in Britain by the late 1830s, culminating in the aborted rising at Newport in which several Chartists were killed.

A successful rising in south Wales may well, as the authors claim, have resulted in a chain of risings. Their claim that it would have achieved “world historic importance”is questionable though. It may have extracted compromises on focal points of working class struggle such as the Ten Hour day, the poor law, bread prices and land monopoly. It may even have achieved further extension of the suffrage. But Black and Ford accentuate the existence of working class insurrectionaries in south Wales and elsewhere and not the rising’s shambolic failure in the face of a state resolutely set against the prospect of armed revolt by the Chartists. Indeed, the perceived threat of insurrection set the propertied against the Chartists in a way which the threat posed by their radical political demands did not. It was the overt social threat of: ‘peaceably if we may, forcibly if we must’, that meant the Chartists had to be defeated by the government on behalf of the propertied, even if ultimately its political demands could be conceded.

The authors seem disappointed at what they see as the paucity of revolutionary leadership within the Chartist movement. The proposed general strike in support of the Charter is regarded as a failed revolutionary opportunity because Feargus O’Connor refused to see it as a chance for the “revolutionary seizure of power.”Black and Ford argue that “the strike had an inexorable revolutionary logic: with no strike fund to draw on, the people would have to violate bourgeois property rights in order to eat” (pp.88-9). But most Chartists did not want a revolutionary seizure of power they wanted an extension of the vote backed by the ameaça that if it was not granted then ‘force’poderia follow. Chartist leaders such as O’Connor did not want a showdown with the state via a general strike because he knew that the likely consequence would be defeat.

John Frost, the leader of the Newport Rising, is likewise characterized as a somewhat reticent and indecisive insurrectionary leader, not because he fell short as a revolutionary leader of proletarian revolution but because he did not see himself in these terms to begin with. He did not anticipate having to actually use force but believed, in line with the mainstream of the Chartist movement, that the threat of force would be sufficient to achieve Chartist objectives. He found himself a ‘gentleman leader’in a situation that escalated way out of his control. The Chartists at Newport, however sincere, walked into a confrontation that led to deaths and a subsequent display of the strength by state in which hundreds of arrests of Chartists were made across the country and John Frost, a broken man, was transported to Tasmania (a sentence of death having been commuted).

The authors suggest that Chartism was neither the tail end of radicalism nor the forerunner of socialism. But it contained plenty of the old in with the new. In their words, “In 1839 the ideas of Thomas Paine stood in dialogue with the socialistic ideas of Thomas Spence, Robert Owen, Bronterre O’Brien and Gracchus Babeuf” (p.199). Chartism was: “a conscious attempt by working-class insurgents to resolve …[capitalist] crisis by breaking the power of ‘Old Corruption’” (p.198). This is followed by the claim that “the movement undoubtedly did have revolutionary and socialist tendencies which persisted and developed” (p.199). It is clear that the intellectual inheritance of Chartism was a mixed bag of traditional radicalism and new Socialism. In trying to tell the story of insurrectionary Chartism, however, Black and Ford want to highlight a working class consciousness that is ripe for insurrectionary revolution. In so doing, although the story they tell was part of the Chartist movement, they highlight some voices in the movement at the expense of others.

Labour MP, John McDonnell, in the foreword to the book suggests that Black and Ford reveal that the threat to the British political establishment, even of revolution, in Britain in 1839 was closer than is often realized. This is indeed the main achievement of the book. But McDonnell also claims that the authors reveal a history that is suggestive of a possible “alternative revolutionary route” (p.xi) that could have been taken by British labour. This is to see a nascent revolutionary potential for seizing political power in the movement for democratic reform. Democratic reform, however, was expected, by those struggling to bring it about, to involve a significant shift in political power in favour of the working class and harmful to the propertied. Such a shift was anticipated, by supporters and opponents of the Charter alike, to result in measures beneficial to the working class. If revolution was on the agenda it was intended to achieve democratic reform from which the working class would benefit, not to advance a ‘proletarian’vanguard.

Black and Ford conclude that we should salute the Chartist insurrectionaries and seek to understand why they did not succeed in 1839. It is suggested that a major reason for their failure was weak revolutionary leadership. But, today, we have few positive lessons to learn from the bloody failure of past insurrections less still do we need revolutionary leadership. Em vez de inspirar uma investigação sobre como essas lutas podem ser controladas por um quadro esclarecido, são as limitações da insurreição como estratégia de mudança social que nos impressiona. A insurreição armada não era necessária ou mesmo útil para a causa da reforma democrática na Grã-Bretanha.

Devemos, é claro, saudar os cartistas, mas de uma perspectiva diferente. Eles fizeram sacrifícios ousados ​​e corajosos em face da oposição determinada do estado britânico em nome de seus oponentes proprietários. E é graças às lutas dos cartistas e daqueles que vieram depois deles que a insurreição é mais do que nunca uma estratégia revolucionária moribunda. Desde o final do século XIX, a classe trabalhadora possui os meios políticos para efetuar mudanças sociais e econômicas. É mais que tempo de nós, a classe trabalhadora, termos a confiança e o conhecimento para usar esses meios para nós mesmos.