Chartist Movement, or Chartism

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McNamara, Robert. "Chartist Movement, or Chartism." ThoughtCo, Feb. 10, 2010, McNamara, Robert. (2010, February 10). Chartist Movement, or Chartism. Retrieved from McNamara, Robert. "Chartist Movement, or Chartism." ThoughtCo. (accessed September 22, 2017).

Definition: The Chartist Movement, or Chartism, was an attempt in Britain to build an independent political party devoted to the interests of working people.

The movement began in 1837 and inspired a general strike in August 1839. A mass demonstration in Newport in November 1839 was met by troops who fired on the crowd and killed at least 15.

The name Chartist came about because the movement advocated a charter for reform of the British political system.

The proposed charter included six points:

  • Universal suffrage (i.e., all men in society would be allowed to vote)
  • Secret ballots
  • Annual Parliaments
  • Removing property requirements for Members of Parliament
  • Payment of Members of Parliament
  • Equal electoral districts

Members of the movement published their own newspaper, the Northern Star, which enabled the spread of Chartist ideas for a number of years. Yet attempts to force Parliament to accept the points of the proposed charter repeatedly failed.

By the time the Chartist Movement faded away in the mid-1850s the six points of the charter had been rejected. But in later years all the points of the charter, except annual Parliaments, would be instituted.