Was Chartism Unsuccessful?

Essay by opalsetUniversity, Bachelor'sB-, January 2009

download word file, 8 pages 3.0

Between 1829 and 1834, a number of trade unions were created. Trade Union activity was a way of organising working-class pressure. The Combination Acts, which had banned unions between 1799 and 1824, were repealed in 1824 but Trade Union power was effectively taken away, as the Whig government reinstated an ancient law making conspiracy a criminal offence. These early unions’ funds were inadequate to sustain strikes . In 1834, when the Grand National Consolidated Trade Union (GNCTU) was set up by Robert Owen, its attempt to unite all different men into one Trade Union failed. At the same time employers began to issue 'The Document' for mutual assistance against strikers and trade unionists, seeking to root out trade unionists in their workshops. Although, this caused continuing bitterness and conflict in industrial relations, the government supported the employers. In April of the same year, the incident involving the Tolpuddle Martyrs scared many away from the Trade Union movement.

The general struggle to defend union rights carried many workers into Chartism which may have seemed a better alternative than transportation to Australia.

The Chartist Movement (1839 – 1848) was, like the GNCTU, a national movement. It was based on the so-called ‘People's Charter’ of 1838, which was primarily the work of William Lovett, one of the leaders of the Chartist Movement. Chartism was an emotional reaction against an unjust economy and society, and became the focus for the resentment of conditions and movements which had promised so much, but had failed the working man. The primary aim of the chartists was to achieve social and economic reform. They had 6 main aims:- Universal Suffrage for all men aged 21 and above; equal sized electoral districts; secret ballot voting; an end to the need for a property qualification for Parliament; pay for members...