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What was Chartism and why did it fail?

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Unit Title: Agitation and Reform in Nineteenth-Century Britain Kayleigh Giles-Johnson ________________ What was Chartism and why did it fail? The Chartist movement originated in the midst of political frustration and economic hardship of nineteenth-century Britain. In this essay we will be looking at Chartism, analysing its purpose and significance, before secondly discussing how Chartism came to fail and some of the reasons that were to blame. Chartism was a working class movement aimed towards political reform from the years 1838-1848, named after the People?s Charter of 1838. It was a result of the many grievances of the working class, most arguably a deep sense of disappointment with the Great Reform Act of 1832 which had failed to deliver the political voice and voting rights they had hoped for, with five out of every six working men still not enfranchised as a result. ...read more.


Unfortunately O?Connor lacked organizational skills and after the resulting departure of Lovett had to ?contain Chartist advocates of physical force? (Murphy, 2001, p.49). It could also be argued that it failed as a result of lack of middle class support, thanks to the physical force element of the movement. Despite Lovett?s efforts, the once close cooperation of 1831 had now dwindled, with the middle class focusing mainly on their own organisation, the Corn Law League (CLL), which was much more successful in gaining their support (Murphy et al, 2003, p.164). Compared to the CLL, Chartism could not out-do them in terms of financial and organisational strength (Murphy, 2001, p.49). As a result of this loss of support, Chartism found itself with less money to fund its cause. It could also be argued that Chartism was a ?knife and fork, bread and butter question?, as described by Joseph Rayner Stephens in 1838. ...read more.


As a result of the negative reaction to much of the physical force, it lead them to use much more peaceful protesting and campaigning techniques to get their point across in the future, which worked out positively for them in the long run. In conclusion, the idea of Chartism was one that certainly had potential. Had it the correct level of organisation, financial stability and support from more of the public it may have been within reach of accomplishment with positive benefits for the working class. However, despite its failure to obtain any significant results, it did play a part in the gain of a political awareness for the majority of the working class. Reference List 1. Lynch M, (1999), An Introduction to Nineteenth-Century British History 1800-1914, London: Hodder Education 2. Murphy D, (2001), Exam Revision Notes AS/A Level, 19th Century and 20th Century British History, Oxford: Philip Allen Updates 3. ...read more.

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