The National Charter—Its preamble—Six Points and minor provisions—Its programme of Parliamentary Reform—Origins of the movement for Parliamentary Reform—The Army debates in 1647 and the Instrument of Government, 1653—The Radical programme in the eighteenth century—Its revival after Waterloo—Dissatisfaction of Radical reformers with the Reform Act of 1832.
1815-1840 the critical years of the Industrial Revolution—Large scale production and machinery triumph over small production and domestic organisation—Social and economic difficulties resulting from the change—The transition easier in some industries than others—The worst difficulties were in those trades where the old and new systems long coexisted side by side—Contrast between the spinning and weaving trades—The latter long a transitional industry, remaining partly domestic, but under capitalist control—The long agony of the handloom weavers—Instances of various types—The silk-weavers of Coventry—The cotton-weavers of Lancashire and the woollen-weavers of Yorkshire—The stockingers and the hosiery trade in the Midlands—Bagmen and frame-rents—Quarrying and mining—The butty and the gang system—The employment of women and children—Want of organisation and care for the welfare of the new industrial population—The social and economic background of Chartism.
The Rise of Anti-Capitalist Economics and Social Revolutionary Theory
Effects of the French Revolution and of the Industrial Revolution on English political and social ideas—Social dislocation resulting from Industrial Revolution—Movement and enterprise replace security as basis of economic life—Practical grievances of the wage-earners—Beginnings of socialistic literature—Three schools of early socialism—The agrarians and their revolt against enclosures—Doctrine of natural right to the land—Thomas Spence—William Ogilvie—Thomas Paine—The anti-capitalistic critics of the classical economists—Charles Hall as the link between the first and second schools—Influence of David Ricardo—His doctrine that Labour is the source of value—Its development by Thomas Hodgskin to claim for Labour the whole produce of Industry—The theoretical Communists—Robert Owen—William Thompson and J. P. Bray—The new Trades Unionism and Robert Owen—The Grand National Consolidated Trades Union—Its failure—The London group of Labour leaders—Special position of the London artisans—Their reaction from orthodox Owenism and its results—The disillusion of the Reform Bill.
The London Working Men's Association and the People's Charter (1836-1839)
Failure of the earlier working men's societies in London The agitation in favour of unstamped newspapers—Its partial triumph in 1836—The leaders in the agitation—Francis Place—William Lovett—Henry Hetherington—James Watson—John Cleave—The same men found the London Working Men's Association—Two accounts of its origin—Part played by Lovett in it—Its objects, membership, and proceedings— Its publications, especially The Rotten House of Commons—Its discussions at Place's house—Notable new members—Threatened disruption—J. B. Bernard and the Cambridgeshire Farmers' Association—Rival short-lived associations—The London Democratic Association—Extension of Chartist associations over the country—Lovett's missionary zeal—Addresses to the Queen and to Reformers—Public meeting at Crown and Anchor—Petition to Commons drawn up—Parliamentary supporters of the Association—Beginnings of more public propaganda—The prosecution of the Glasgow Cotton Spinners—Support from the Birmingham Political Union—Committee to draft a Bill empowered, but does nothing—Place and Lovett draw up the People's Charter—Failure of the Parliamentary Radicals to give effective help—Proposal for a National Convention—The elections for it—Decline in importance of the Working Men's Association.
The Agitation against the New Poor Law (1834-1838)
Importance of Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834—The first piece of radical legislation and the first-fruits of Benthamism—Action of Edwin Chadwick and the Poor Law Commissioners—Growth of resistance to the Act—Real suffering caused by it—Plight of handloom weavers and stockingers—William Cobbett's arguments against it—Outdoor relief as the share of the poor in the spoils of the Church at the Reformation—The opposition of local interests to centralisation and bureaucracy—The cry of vested interests—The resistance to the Act in Lancashire and Yorkshire, 1836—John Fielden of Todmorden—Richard Oastler—Joseph Rayner Stephens—The Methodist spirit and the opposition to the Act—The coming to the North of Augustus Harding Beaumont and Feargus O'Connor—The Northern Liberator and the Northern Star—Effectiveness of O'Connor as an agitator in the factory districts—Death of Beaumont—Absorption of the Anti-Poor Law movement in Chartism.
The Revival of the Birmingham Political Union (1837-1838)
Part played by the Birmingham Political Union in the struggle for the Reform Bill—Its dissolution in 1834—Beginnings of bad trade, and setting up in 1836 of a Reform Association—Thomas Attwood and the middle-class Birmingham leaders—Attwood's Currency Schemes—Revival of the Political Union—Parliamentary Reform to be combined with Currency Reform—The middle-class leaders and the working-men followers—Futile attempts to interest the Government in currency reform—Alliance effected with the Working Men's Association and the Anti-Poor Law agitators—Douglas draws up the National Petition—Great meeting at Glasgow adopts the policy—General propaganda work—Birmingham meeting at Newhall Hill, August 6, 1838—Election of delegates to the National Convention—Friction between the London Association and the Birmingham Union—Difficulties caused by the Currency Scheme—Rupture between the Union and the Northern extremists—Violence of Stephens and O'Connor—O'Connor patches up some sort of peace—Note on Attwood's Currency Theories.
Combination of the northern, midland, and southern movements for the attainment of the Charter—The National Petition—The National Convention—Election of delegates at public meetings—Position of Manchester in the movement—Violence in the North—First meeting of the National Convention, February 4, 1839—Its membership and characteristics—Debates as to the scope of the Convention—J. P. Cobbett's resolution limiting its work to superintending the Petition—Its defeat, followed by his withdrawal—House of Commons invited to meet Convention—War declared against the Anti-Corn Law League—Discussions on procedure—Rules and Regulations of the Convention drawn up—Clamour for violent measures outside the Convention—Harney and the London Democratic Association attack the mild policy of the Convention—Long delays and hesitations—Decreasing confidence within the Convention—It Is increased by the unfavourable reports from the "missionaries" sent into the country—Reports from Birmingham and the south-west—Riots at Devizes—John Richards' reports from the Potteries—Numerous resignations in the Convention, including those of the Birmingham delegates—Debate on the right to possess arms—Debate on ulterior measure—Divided counsels and indecision—The problem referred to mass meetings—The Petition handed to Attwood—Removal of the Convention to Birmingham—Its lack of leadership the chief cause of its failure.
General prevalence of poverty and discontent, especially in the manufacturing and mining districts—Local effects of the "missionaries'" work—Illustrations from Newport (Mon.), Halifax, and Manchester—Government preparations to resist threatened rising—Prudence of Lord John Russell—Lack of police and consequent inevitableness of military action—The appointment of Sir Charles Napier to command the northern district—His wise policy—The disposition of his troops—Colonel Wemyss at Manchester—Government proclamation against unlawful assemblies—Authorisation of the formation of a civic force.
Ministerial crisis of May 1839—Its effects on Chartist calculations—Inevitable postponement of the Petition—Isolation of the Convention in London—Its complaints of lack of support—Comparative attractions of Birmingham—Changed position there—Collapse of the Attwoodites and transference of the Chartist leadership to working men—Collins and Fussell—Fussell's account of the meetings in the Bull Ring—Their prohibition—Last debates of Convention in London—O'Connor's motion for transference to Birmingham carried—"Address to the People" moved—O'Brien's violent address carried in preference to Lowery's moderate one—May 13 the Convention reaches Birmingham—Its first work to issue "The Manifesto of the General Convention"—Its terms—Ulterior measures to be adopted on failure of the Petition—Their weakness as compared with language of Manifesto—Timid action and adjournment until July 1—Action of civil and military authorities throughout the country—Threatened Whitsuntide disturbances—Wemyss's vigorous action against Ashton-under-Lyne—Riots at Llanidloes, Monmouth, and Stone—Incendiary hand-bill circulated in Manchester—Napier's view as to the prospects—Precautions at Manchester—Kersal Moor demonstration—More resignations from the Convention—Its resumed sessions after July 1—July 4, Bull Ring riot—Provoked by lack of judgment of magistrates—Convention condemns them in resolutions signed by Lovett—Arrest of Lovett and Collins—Threatened troubles at Ashton and Manchester—Removal of Convention to London—It issues denunciation of Birmingham magistrates and of paper money.
The Petition in the Commons: End of the Convention (1839)
July 12, 1839, Debate on Attwood's motion that the Commons go into Committee to consider the National Petition—Speeches of Attwood and Fielden—Lord John Russell's speech against the motion—Disraeli's speech disapproving of Charter, but sympathising with Chartists—The division—Motion defeated by 235 to 46—July 15-17, Debates in Convention—A "National Holiday" to begin on August 12—July 15, Renewed Riots in Bull Ring, Birmingham—Cold reception of strike proposal—July 22, It is rescinded by Convention on O'Brien's motion—Committee appointed to take sense of people on the strike—Most places unfavourable—Views of Northern Political Union and of Robert Knox—The Trades Unions outside the Chartist ranks—Convention adjourns Bill, August—Dying out of strike movement—Arrests and trials—Trials of Stephens at Chester and of Lovett and Collins at Warwick—Attitude of Lovett—Reassembly and dissolution of the Convention—Its final weakness.
Sedition, Privy Conspiracy, and Rebellion (1839-1840)
Attitude of physical force Chartists outside Convention—The Newport Rising of November 4—Difficulty in ascertaining the truth as to its origin and course—The story of David Urquhart—Beniowski and Russian intrigues—Other versions of the story—General rising projected for which an outbreak in South Wales was to be the signal—Committees at various centres—Activity of Vincent and, after his arrest, of Prost in Newport and the Monmouthshire valleys—The rendezvous at Risca—The night march to Newport—The fighting round the Westgate Hotel—The suppression of the Rising and the arrest of the leaders—Preparations for their defence—Ambiguous attitude of O'Connor—Preparations for a second rising throughout the country—Reports by magistrates and police—Bradford—Manchester—Birmingham—The hosiery districts—London—Halifax—Nothing serious to happen—Depression of Manchester and Birmingham Chartists—Trial and condemnation of Frost, Jones, and Williams—Some small outbreaks, mainly in Yorkshire, easily suppressed—1840, Further trials and imprisonments—End of the first phase of Chartism—Its want of homogeneity its chief weakness—Diversity of aim made co-operation in revolutionary action impossible.
Weakness of Chartism during spring of 1840—Proposals to organise the movement more thoroughly—The beginnings in Scotland—August 15, 1839, Delegates meeting at the Universalist Church, Glasgow—Its resolutions—The Chartist Circular—Harney's proposals—Schemes of "Republican"—O'Connor's plans for a Chartist newspaper syndicate—Revival of local bodies—Hetherington and the Metropolitan Charter Union—The Newcastle Northern Political Union—July 20, 1840, Meeting at the Griffin, Great Ancoats Street, Manchester—Plans for the National Charter Association drawn up and adopted—Its objects and methods—Its revision to make it legal—Difficulties imposed by the law on political associations—The provisional and the elected executives—Plans of the moral force sections—Christian Chartism—The Chartist Churches—Arthur O'Neill at Birmingham—Report of his sermons—Henry Vincent at Bath—David Brewster at Paisley—Lovett's proposals—His correspondence with Place—His Chartism—His plans for a National Association for Promoting the Improvement of the People—Its educational and individualist policy—Place's criticisms—July 25, Lovett's release and establishment in London—Thomas Cooper's plans—His early career and character—How he became a Chartist at Leicester—His Shaksperean Association of Leicester Chartists—The revival resulting from all these efforts.
Parallel growth of Chartism and the Anti-Corn Law League—Grounds for the antagonism between Chartists and Free Traders—A phase of the class war—Policy of meeting-smashing—Divergencies of aim of the Chartists—Illustrated from Williams at Sunderland and Leach at Manchester—Attitude of the Northern Star—Futility of Chartist attitude.
August 30, 1841, release of O'Connor from York Gaol—His
influence on the agitation during his imprisonment—His direction of the National Charter Association—Petitions for the release of the Newport leaders—Ways in which the Northern Star promoted O'Connor's ends—Its journalistic success—Its commercial influence—Chartist leaders become O'Connor's servants and dependents—Continued faith of the mass of Chartists in him—Illustration of this from Thomas Cooper—Demonstrations on O'Connor's release—Demonstration and procession at Huddersfield and elsewhere—Activity of O'Connor—Plans for the Association—A Convention and a new Petition.
O'Connor's campaign against his rivals—The essential incompatibility between him and Lovett—The National Association and the National Charter Association—Lovett's bad tactics give colour to the charge that the former was set up in rivalry to the latter—Unmeasured attacks on Lovett—March 1841, Lovett's Address of the National Association excites a new outcry—His democratic idealism—Violent opposition of the Star—Its journalistic methods—Members of the Chartist Association forced to dissociate themselves from Lovett's Association—Lovett fails to get general Chartist support, and is virtually ejected from the Chartist ranks.
(2) The Elimination of O'Brien (1841-1842)
O'Brien as the Chartist Schoolmaster—His services to Chartist doctrine and propaganda—His financial dependence on O'Connor—His resentment of O'Connor's attitude—Beginnings of the breach—The General Election of 1841—O'Brien denounced O'Connor's policy of voting with the Conservatives—The result was that the Chartists voted on no single principle—O'Brien's candidature at Newcastle-on-Time—His address minimises the Chartist standpoint—Legal problems arising from his refusal to go to the poll—October 1841, his release—The British Statesman started as his organ.
(3) The Complete Suffrage Movement (1842)
The reshifting of Chartist interest to Birmingham—Contrast of Birmingham Chartism in 1839 and 1842—Partly a reflection of the general change of the Chartist attitude, but largely due to the continued middle-class element in Birmingham Chartism—The Complete Suffrage Movement and Joseph Sturge—Sturge's "Reconciliation between the Middle and Working Classes"—The "Sturge Declaration" drawn up at an Anti-Corn Law Convention in Manchester—Its principles illustrated—They are embodied in the Birmingham Complete Suffrage Union—Its leaders—Edward Miall and the Nonconformist—Herbert Spencer and his uncle—Friendly attitude of Free Traders—The Union an attempt to organise a single Radical party—Its Chartist supporters—Fierce opposition of O'Connor—Attitude of the Northern Star—Complete Suffrage is "Complete Humbug"—April 5, 1842, Complete Suffrage Conference meets at Birmingham—Its indecisive discussions—Its hesitation to adopt the Charter and its points—The conflict put off till a future date—Stress laid upon the Chartist name—The Complete Suffrage Petition drawn up—State of affairs in Chartist world in spring of 1842—The triangular duel of O'Connor, Lovett, and Sturge.
Progress of the Charter Association in organising the National Petition—Bad trade adds to the Chartist difficulties—The Petition ready—April 12, 1842, the Chartist Convention meets in London—Arrangements for the presentation of the Petition—Address of the Convention—Analysis of the Petition—May 2, The Petition presented to Parliament by Buncombe—May 3, Duncombe's motion that the petitioners be heard—Macaulay's declaration that universal suffrage was fatal to property—Roebuck's ambiguous speech denouncing O'Connor but supporting the motion—Lord John Russell's and Peel's speeches—Defeat of the resolution.
(1) The Plug Plot and its Consequences (1842-1843)
Meetings denouncing the rejection of the Petition—The general strike—The Plug Plot—Chartist Conference in Manchester—MacDouall's inflammatory manifesto—O'Connor's attack on MacDouall—Failure of the strike—The Government re-establishes order—Prosecutions and punishments—MacDouall driven into exile—Revival of the Complete Suffrage Movement—Second Birmingham Conference of December 1842—Harney's defence of the Chartist name—Lovett's resolution carried and break-up of the Conference—O'Connor's fresh triumph—Sentences on the rioters.
(2) O'Connor's Land Scheme and the Chartist Revival (1843-1847)
Sluggishness of Chartism in 1843—The Birmingham Convention (1843)—New organisation of the National Charter Association—The Executive to meet in London—Transference of the Northern Star from Leeds to London (1844—O'Connor's Land Scheme proposed—Its origin—O'Connor's Letters to Irish Landlords—Reception of the Scheme at Birmingham (1843) and Manchester (1844)—Further progress at the London Convention (1845)—Details of the Scheme—Revival of prosperity weakens Chartism—Opposition to the Land Scheme within the Chartist fold—Opposition of O'Brien and Cooper—The National Land Company—Difficulties of the undertaking—O'Connor's qualities and defects—O'Connorville opened—Ernest Jones becomes O'Connor's chief lieutenant—Chartists and the General Election of 1847—O'Connor returned for Nottingham—His work in Parliament.
(3) Chartism and the Revolution op 1848
The Revolution of 1848 in Western Europe—The Chartist affinities with the Continental rebels—Arthur O'Connor and his nephew Feargus—O'Connor in Belgium—His relations with the German democrats exiled in Brussels—Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx—London as a revolutionary centre—The Chartist revival stimulated by the fall of Louis Philippe—Chartist disturbances—March 6,
The Trafalgar Square meeting—April 3, The Convention in London—Preparations for the presentation of the National Petition—O'Connor's Constitution-making—Counter-preparations of the Government—April 10. The meeting_on Kennington Common—Its peaceful and uneuthusiastic character—threatened disturbances in Manchester—The analysis of the Petition by a Commons Committee—Collapse of the Land Scheme after a Commons Committee's Report—Trials and imprisonments—Failure of the movement.
(4) The Last Stages of Chaetism (1849-1858)
Slow stages of the final collapse of Chartism—Illness and death of O'Connor—Ernest Jones as leader—His qualities and their defects—His journalistic efforts—His proposals for the reform of the organisation—His failures and retirement—Other abortive schemes for the reorganisation of Chartism—Lovett's People's League—O'Brien's National Reform League—Clark's National Charter League—Extinction of the Movement—Later history of the Chartist leaders—Ernest Jones's life in Manchester—The Chartist patriarchs.
(5) The Place of Chartism in History.
How far was Chartism a failure?—The gradual realisation of its political programme, but not through the Chartists—Had Chartism a social and economic programme?—Negative character of the politics of the period—The concentration of effort on the removal of disabilities—Divergencies in the Chartist ranks as to the social ideal—The schools of Chartism—The agrarian and the industrial schools—Inability of the Chartists to unite except in negations—Chartism as an effort towards democracy and social equality—Its contrast with Young Englandism—Chartism and the Churches—Difficult position of the Chartist leaders—Their necessary want of experience—Their indirect influence in the next generation—Their protest against Cobdenism and Utilitarianism bore fruit in the next generation—Value of its pioneer work—Its preparation of the workers to take a real share in political and social movements—Its influence on Continential socialism—The beginnings of