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Why did the Chartist movement develop from 1836?

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Why did the Chartist movement develop from 1836? The electoral system in the early nineteenth century was radically different from the parliamentary democracy we have today. The system was not representative of the population in terms of wealth or region, and elections were open to corruption. Before 1832, just ten per cent of British adult males were eligible to vote ? and this portion of the population was the richest. There were many efforts to reform this outdated system by people who used methods such as corresponding societies, pamphlets and mass meetings to spread their messages. In 1832, voting rights were given to the property-owning middle classes in Britain. However, many people wanted further political reform. Chartism was a working class movement, which emerged in 1836 and was most active between 1838 and 1848. The aim of the Chartists was to gain political rights and influence for the working classes. Chartism got its name from the formal petition, or People?s Charter, that listed the six main aims of the movement. These were: 1. a vote for all men (over 21) 2. the secret ballot 3. ...read more.


Hundreds of thousands of people were sometimes reported to have attended their meetings and their three petitions amassed millions of signatures, although some were proved to be fake. Friedrich Engels wrote that '...in Chartism it is the whole working class which rises against the bourgeois', but it was more than simply a working-class movement -it attracted some rural support as well as more radical elements of the middle classes. Although the People?s Charter did not advocate votes for women, Chartism was far from a male-only movement. William Lovett, the author of the People?s Charter, wrote in his autobiography that he was in favour of female suffrage. However, it was decided that calls for female suffrage would damage the prospects for the Charter?s success. Women may not have spoken publicly like the male Chartist orators, but many did attend meetings and mass demonstrations, and formed Female Charter Associations. Others actively challenged the Chartists to campaign for female suffrage. The Chartist movement was not a completely unified organisation and its leadership was often fragmented. All members decided on the end purpose of Chartism, but there were radical differences in opinion over the means to achieve it. ...read more.


The working classes embarked on a crusade to seek a socio-economic Utopia by political means. The Chartists asked for too much all at once. If they had concentrated on universal manhood suffrage, the rest would have followed. Compare the demands of the Chartists to that of the Anti-Corn-Law League which had a single objective. In conclusion the Chartist movement developed from 1836 because of the London working men's association was set up and 1836 was the start of 'the bad times' in 19th century England. The introduction of machines in industrial areas that put many out of work (example ? Machines in the cotton industry all but dominated the franchise as they could work with minimal cost, as long as needed and produce noticeably more [Higher output]) causing mass unemployment. This gained support for the chartists who wanted benefits and changes made by the government for the people. Chartism looked particularly 'juicy' to those affected and those worried about being affected by harsh government policy and the industrial revolution. Many of the chartists opponents (particularly in the government / house of commons / lords) saw Chartism as a potential 'Working class revolution' and due to the revolution that had just occurred in France, powerful people had the right to be worried ( King Louis overthrown). ...read more.

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