[1838] - Charter presented to Parliament by National Convention of Chartists

Chartism refers to a working-class labour movement for political and social reform in England between 1838 and 1850. Although the Great Reform Act had considerably widened the franchise, the labouring classes remained largely disenfranchised. Inspired by a feeling of betrayal resulting from the political compromises of 1832, working-class leaders organized to petition parliament for more extensive reform. In 1837 a group of six MPs and six working men founded a committee that published the ‘People’s Charter’ in May 1838. The Charter consisted of six key aims, including the enfranchisement of every man aged 21 and over, annual parliaments, the creation of equal constituencies and the abolition of property qualifications for Members of Parliament. The Charter quickly gained popular support throughout the country. On 13 May 1838 the Chartists presented a petition to the House of Commons. When parliament refused to hear the petitioners, however, violence ensued. Consequently, prominent Chartist leaders were arrested. In South Wales a group of Chartist sympathizers marched to Newport in Monmouthshire where there was a bloody confrontation known as the Newport Rising. According to some in the movement, it had been hoped that the events in Newport would ignite a national rising of the labouring classes. This, however, failed to materialize. Although the Chartists continued their campaign for reform throughout the 1840s, they were largely unsuccessful in convincing the government to act. Nonetheless, by 1918 five out of the six Chartist points had been adopted.

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