British Chartism Essay

632 words - 3 pages

The outcome of the social revolutions of 1830-1833 left Europe in a general sense of discontent. Governments were doing their best to limit democratic movements by restricting voting privileges to the wealthier middle classes. Limited voting power kept the Whig party "safe" from radical pressure in Britain. These absurd manipulations of the electorate and parliament encouraged democrats and radicals (middle classes) from all over Europe to protest and eventually uprise. One of the best, most comprehensive examples of a social revolution in this period is Britain's Chartism. This radical movement pushed for democratic rights in order to improve social conditions in industrial Great Britain. It arose from the popular discontent following the Reform Act of 1832, which gave very little importance to large, industrial boroughs in parliament. Movements of mass discontent in Yorkshire and Lancashire caused by industrial exploitation and economic depression had already taken place. In 1838, the cabinet-maker William Lovett and the tailor Francis Place wrote the "People's Charter". It is best known for its "Six Points", which proposed the following: universal manhood sufferage, equal electoral districts, vote by ballot, payment of members of Parliament, removal of the property qualification for the Members of Parliament, and annual general elections. The first five of these demands were granted (even though it took until 1918 to finalize the decision), but the sixth was refused because it stressed the radical infuence on the program. The Whig belief of the sovreignty of the parliament clashed with that of the radicals, who felt that the parliament should be entirely subject to the will of the people. Even though Chartism originated from London's the artisans and radicals, it found most of its support from the industrial middles classes of northern England. The Birmingham...

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