Chartism was a working-class political movement calling for the extension of the franchise that emerged in the mid-1830s. Motivated by a sense of ‘betrayal’ by the actions of the Whig government and the impact of a deep economic depression between 1837 and 1842, it saw political reform as essential if the living and working conditions of working people were to be improved. The power of the spoken and written word played a central role in Chartism and the foremost demagogue of the movement was Feargus O’Connor, whose rhetoric in all its ambiguity and exaggeration was published in his newspaper, The Northern Star. His speech at York, reported in the Star on 6 July 1839, was in favour of a motion that: “every male adult of the kingdom ought to have a voice in making the laws by which he is governed…” and gave voice to the pent-up emotions of a working-class that was denied access to the levers of political or economic power.Order now
Your introduction needs to take the form of something like this. It provides a context for the document, identifies the circumstances in which the speech was given and recognises that ambiguity and exaggeration was (and still is) a central feature of political oratory.
The problem with what you’ve written is that, although you address the issue of the three explanations for Chartism’s support you do so in a general way and do not focus sufficiently on the source. I would be inclined to divide your piece into five sections: introduction, economic, national political movement and inclusive cultural community and conclusion in which you address the issue of which, if any, is stressed most strongly by the speaker. What you’ve written is a commentary using secondary sources to sustain your argument. You need to be very clear what your argument is and how the source reinforces that argument.
The introduction I’ve written is all you need to start. Omit any discussion of Cartwright, his significance was to the period between 1815 and 1820 although the principles he espoused were evident in the Charter. But then the Charter was an expression of radical, mass platform ideology that can be traced back to the mid-eighteenth century.
The campaign for democratic reform began around the Battle of Waterloo and fluctuated alongside economic pressure. In 1838, the democratic reform was reborn as ‘Chartism’. Chartism became a national political movement, a group of people working together to achieve a political goal, and was one explanation for the support of Chartism. The creation of the ‘People’s Charter’ (1838), incorporated the principles of Cartwright, proposing all that the poor and working class desperately needed. Chartism gave the people a voice and with that voice, gave the solutions they sought. One answer to people’s woes was addressed by the speaker of the extract, which was, “a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work”. FLOW The motion favoured at this meeting was Universal male suffrage – i.e. all adult males over 21, of ‘sound mind’…not undergoing punishment for crime, should have the vote…’. QUOTE ASS BOOKLET Although this was a radical step, they omitted to go above the hierarchical nature of British society at the time and include the vote for women. Women, ‘seldom spoke on public platforms’ (Thompson, 1984, pp 120-1, RB, pg 39), however, Lovett, amongst other Chartists, were in agreement that women should have the vote.
There are two separate economic issues within Chartism though O’Connor and addresses both. First, there was the issue of the ‘Old Corruption’, a radical concept that can be traced back to the 1810s that focused especially on the inequities of taxation, jobbery and trade burdened by tariffs that particularly impacted on the working-class. Chartism sought to address the privileging of the interests of the rich over those of the poor. Secondly, there was the specific issue of the economic depression in the 1830s and the ‘destitution’ it caused that acted as the ‘trigger’ for protest after 1838.
The critical issue is what did the speaker meant by an ‘inclusive cultural community’. Although women’s suffrage was an issue for some Chartists, it had largely been side-lined by 1839. The critical division within Chartism was between the inclusive radicalism of O’Connor and the exclusive artisanal radicalism of William Lovett: while both O’Connor and Lovett wanted universal manhood suffrage, Lovett was prepared to accept that the working-class would be enfranchised gradually while O’Connor saw the working-class as a unity to be given the vote all at the same time.I‘ve appended a Kindle version of my recent book Sex, Work and Politics: Women in Britain 1830-1918 that includes a section on Chartism. You can download the Kindle app on your computer and then click on the file and it’ll end up on the app. I agree that you’ve adopted a 21st century view.
Archaic language = elevated (him that liveth forever) EPIC SPEECH.
the passionate way in which the speaker delivers the contrasting lifestyles of both the working class and the rich emphasises the impact of economic pressure.
This is re-enforced by, “The rhetoric of Chartism was steeped in Christianity: as Ernest Jones put it in 1850, ‘Christ was the first Chartist, and Democracy is the gospel carried into practice’ (p. 338)
The audience were caused to feel an array of different emotions, as did I, throughout the extract, with his comparisons. The men of the audience are addressed as, ‘brethren’, men of a male religious order. By creating contrasting religious imagery to that of Parliament being, ‘unnaturally elevated…’ and them building their own ‘Established Church…built in injustice…nurtured in blood’, he portrays the audience as innocents opposed to those in power being of an evil force.
By the Chartist speaker giving the movement a shared religious interest, incorporating the economic situation, I believe that this extract, together with the evidence found; both the economic pressure and national political movement go ‘hand in hand’ when it comes to strongly supporting the Chartist movement.