How Important Was Economic Conditions
How important was economic conditions in the development of Chartist 1836-41 Chartist was a working class movement for political reform in Britain. There were many reasons as to why Chartist developed, one of which was the poor economic conditions in Britain and this was quite important however was not the sole reason as there were also other strong origins such as disappointment of the Great Reform Act. The economic boom of the early sass was short lived as by 1836 Britain’s economy was suffering due to bad harvests and partly because of industrialization.
It was a time where there was high unemployment, especially in the north such as in Cheshire and Yorkshire, because the process of industrialization had hit these areas harder than others as many handloom weavers’ Jobs were replaced by machinery. Employers had reduced wages at a time of high food prices meaning that the working class had to act fats or risk starvation and they did by Joining the radical Chartist movement. General Sir Charles Napier referred to the sass as the ‘hungry forties’ which gives us an idea of how bad things had gotten.
Other than economic there were several other factors leading to Chartist, the first being
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This was because many boroughs, in which many working class citizens lived, such as Middlesex, had been disenfranchised meaning they lost the vote. Another reason for the growth of Chartist was opposition to Whig social legislation for example the New Poor Law of 1834, the Irish Coercion Act in 1833 and Municipal Corporations act in 1835. I think this was more important than the reform act, but equal to economic depression as the New Poor law worked with economic depression in creating working class discontent and developing Chartist.
The members of the anti-poor law movement lived the act did more bad than it did good towards the labouringly population: ‘The laborers of England believed that the new poor law was a law to punish poverty and described it as Whig tyranny. Again the strongest opposition for the reform was in the north around 1837-38 due to depression in the textile mills. Richard Jostler was a leading campaigner for the anti-poor law movement and led the 10 hour movement where attempts were made, in place like Lancashire and West ridings of Yorkshire, to reduce the working day to 10 hours and to keep children out f factories.
The movement provided an opportunity to unite many chartists in these areas and helped provide the building blocks of the chartist movement. The act was also viewed by the working class as class legislation towards the middle class which cause a split which was made worse by the the municipal corporations act as it seemed to extend middle class power of the working class. The ideas of the radical How Important Was Economic Conditions In The Development Of Chartist 1836 By gutter such as, William Gobbet’s ‘Deponent trash’ and Thomas Howler’s ‘Black Dwarf.
However the six acts, created by the Tory government in 1819 had attempted to suppress radical press by introducing a stamp duty which aimed to increase the prices of the articles and made it difficult for the press to survive. However a vigorous campaign was started which eventually led to the newspaper act in 1836 which reduced the stamp duty to old. Before the act there were sass of small, unstamped political papers that had been established but were then persuaded to go legal after the newspaper act had been passed meaning that there were more papers breading the word of Chartist and radicalism which increased their strength.
The most influential papers were Fearers O’Connor ‘Northern Star’ and Weatherization ‘Poor Man’s Guardian’. The final factor towards the development of Chartist is a fairly minor one in my opinion, which is the attack on trade unions by the authorities. For example in 1834 the Depopulated martyrs were convicted for convicted for making illegal oaths, when in reality they were agricultural laborers fighting against wage cuts. The 6 men were trialed and sentenced to Australia for 7 years.
In protest, in 1834 30,000 radicals and trade unionists marched through London, which would have created mass publicity for Chartist. Another notable attempt to clamp down on trade unions was in 1837 with the Glasgow spinners where the union leaders were charged with murder, which put the Whig government in a bad light in the eyes of many working classes. Overall terrible economic conditions was a big factor in causing the development of Chartist however I think a contribution of all the other factors, such as opposition to Whig reform and the unstamped press affected Chartist more.