Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Dr. A. Stanley Trickett
Industrialsim in England had nearly reached a stage of maturity by the year 1839; a railroad boom and an extension of laissez-faire policy would soon give it marks of middle age and prosperity. These would come in the late forties and fifties, during the period of the decline of the Chartist movement; but before prosperity brought England a "Victorian Compromise" and fuller stomachs for her labourers, there could be heard during 1836-40 the loud rumbling of revolution. The modes again stalked about England and the leading question of the day, the platitudes of the Whig Government made the situation even more explosive. Thomas Carlyle, the elegant spokesman of the age, expressed the inadequacy of both the political economists and the members of Parliament. He remarked, "such platitudes of the world in which all forses could be well fed and inmmerable working men could die starved: were it not better to end it, to have done with it." Although the dominate groups of this period, the bourgeoisie and the landowners, did not stop battling for long over political and economic spoils, they did for the first time feel acute pressure of another group, the hungry working men. They were not new to the upper classes: a growling populace had been known since the eighteen century when the enclosures began to toss farm labourers, cottagers and some yeomen inot the pot of the unemployed and unwanted. However, in 1839 when Chartism with its political facade became the pressure vehicle for the economic and social grievances of the working men, both the bourgeois and the landed aristocracy soon realised he must be acknowledged or face possible eruption. Although factory legislation, trade unionism, or modification of the Poor Laws cannot be directly attributed to the Chartist Movement, it is certain, however, that Chartism helped to fertilize the soil from which they were to spring. By 1848 the working men, not only in England but also in other parts of Europe, had established himself as a force which had to be recognised by all classes.
MacTiernan, James M., "Feargus O'Connor: Chartist demagogue" (1959). Student Work. 389.
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