Labour History Review

Chartists and Owenites - many parts but one body

Labour History Review (2000), 65, (1), 2–21.


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K. Marx and F. Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), p. 517, in Collected Works (CW), vol. 6, 1975, pp. 477-519 Google Scholar

M. C. Finn, After Chartism. Class and nation in English radical politics, 1848-1874, Cambridge, 1993, p. 69 After Chartism. Class and nation in English radical politics, 1848-1874 69 Google Scholar

P. A. Pickering, Chartism and the Chartists in Manchester and Salford, 1995, ch. 6, esp. pp. 110-11; T. Koditscheck, Class Formation and Urban-Industrial Society. Bradford, 1750-1850, Cambridge, 1990, pp. 505-6 Google Scholar

Poor Man's Guardian (PMG), 24 December 1831 Google Scholar

Leeds Mercury, 20 August 1842; Northern Star (NS), 13, 20 August 1842 Google Scholar

NS, 20 August 1842 Google Scholar

See E. Yeo, ‘Robert Owen and Radical Culture’, pp. 103-8, in S. Pollard and J. Salt (eds), Robert Owen. Prophet of the Poor, 1971, pp. 84-114 Google Scholar

PMG, 14 January 1832 Google Scholar

Crisis, 19 October 1833 Google Scholar

Cobbett's Weekly Political Pamphlet, 2 August 1817; Black Dwarf, 20 August 1817 Google Scholar

PMG, 14 January 1832 Google Scholar

New Moral World (NMW), 1 September 1838 Google Scholar

G. Claeys, Citizens and Saints. Politics and anti-politics in early British socialism, Cambridge, 1989, pp. 215-18 Citizens and Saints. Politics and anti-politics in early British socialism 215 18 Google Scholar

The Life and Literary Pursuits of Allen Davenport. With a further selection of the author's work, compiled and edited by Malcolm Chase, Aldershot, 1994 Google Scholar

PMG, 1 September 1832 Google Scholar

PMG, 22 September 1832 Google Scholar

G. Claeys, Citizens and Saints, p. 242; E. Royle, Robert Owen and the Commencement of the Millennium, Manchester, 1998, pp. 97-107 Google Scholar

See William Chilton's attack on Vincent, ‘You will injure our cause’, Orach of Reason, 23 July 1842 Google Scholar

NS, 8 April 1843. For Charles Southwell's response, see Investigator no. 7 [13 May 1843], pp. 53-6 Google Scholar

NS, 12 February 1848. In denying that Southwell and Holyoake were Chartists, Harney would appear to have been making the point that as infidels they were not acting in their capacity as Chartists rather than avowing (as he might have been tempted to do) that neither man was a supporter of the Charter. There was a lengthy response to Dr Campbell the following week in the form of extracts from a pre-publication copy of a pamphlet by Joseph Barker. See also Reasoner, 23 February 1848 Google Scholar

NMW, 24 June 1837 Google Scholar

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London Social Reformer, 9 May 1840 Google Scholar

Working Bee, 22 August 1840 Google Scholar

Engels, Condition of the Working Class, in CW, pp. 526-7: Marx and Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party, in CW, p. 515 Google Scholar

See, for example, ‘The first essay in physical force’, Chartist, 12 May 1839 Google Scholar

For Finch and Galpin, see Royle, Robert Owen, pp. 130-4 Google Scholar

See E. Royle, Victorian Infidels. The origins of the British Secularist Movement, 1791-1866, Manchester, 1974, pp. 67-74; idem, Robert Owen, pp. 95-117; Pickering, Chartism and the Chartists, p. 111 Victorian Infidels. The origins of the British Secularist Movement, 1791-1866 67 74 Google Scholar

W. Chilton to G. J. Holyoake, 2 December 1841, Holyoake Papers, Co-operative Union, Manchester (HC), no. 22. Chilton probably had in mind the recent public discussion held at the John Street Social Institution in London between J. Humphreys Parry on behalf of the Chartists and Doyd Jones on behalf of the Owenites on the merits of their respective systems - NS, 4, 11 December 1841 Google Scholar

G. J. Harney to G. J. Holyoake, 11 April 1842, HC no. 38; Oracle of Reason, 25 June 1842 Google Scholar

For example, in a striking but incomplete letter from Harney to Holyoake, dated 22 April 1844, the former set out his true feelings about what a new party of Owenites and Chartists would look like. It combined the radicalism of both men's programmes but would have been repudiated by both O'Connor and Owen for opposite reasons. The surviving text is reproduced in E. Royle, Infidel Tradition from Paine to Bradlaugh, 1976, from the original in HC no. 115 Google Scholar

Letter dated 22 June 1842 from Harney to the Oracle of Reason, published 2 July 1842 Google Scholar

NS, 18 June 1842 Google Scholar

NS, 30 December 1843 Google Scholar

NS, 17 May 1845 Google Scholar

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NS, 12 March 1842; Pickering, Chartism and the Chartists, p. 109; E. and R. Frow, Manchester and Salford Chartists, Preston, 1996, pp. 73-4 Google Scholar

NS, 13 February 1841 Google Scholar

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NS, 3 February 1844 Google Scholar

Pickering, Chartism and the Chartists, pp. 108-11 Google Scholar

Koditscheck, Class Formation, p. 506 Google Scholar

For references to Pitkethly senior's career, see Voice of the West Riding, 16 March, 15, 22 June 1833, 11 January, 12 April 1834, PMG, 11 July 1835, NS, 12 May, 27 June 1838, 19 January 1839, 16 May, 11 July 1840, 26 June, 10 July 1841, 5 March 1842, 24 February 1844. Also J. T. Ward, ‘Centenary of Lawrence Pitkeithley's [sic] Death’, Huddersfield Examiner, 2 June 1958 Google Scholar

NMW, 25 February, 11 March, 6 May, 10 June 1837, 14 May 1842, 25 May, 8 June 1844 Google Scholar

NMW, 21 December 1839 Google Scholar

NS, 8 April 1843 Google Scholar

PMG, 22 September 1832 Google Scholar

PMG, 7 November 1835 Google Scholar

Pickering, Chartism and the Chartists, ch. 6, esp. pp. 110-11; Koditscheck, Class Formation, pp. 505-6; Claeys, Citizens and Saints, pp. 231-3 Google Scholar

The phrase démoc-soc refers to the ideology of the république démocratique et sociale as advocated in France in 1848: see Finn, After Chartism, p. 87, citing J. Merriman, The Agony of the Republic. The Repression of the Left in Revolutionary France, 1848-51, New Haven, 1978, p. xxi. A more recent account of the various currents of socialism in France is given in I. Prothero, Radical Artisans in England and France, 1830-1870, Cambridge, 1997 Google Scholar

Engels, Condition of the Working Class, in CW, p. 526, emphasis mine. The translation used is an almost literal one, the original German reading oft zusammen fallenden, oft getrennten Sektionen — K. Marx and F. Engels, Werke, vol. 2, Berlin, 1962, p. 453 Google Scholar

Engels wrote confidentiy in 1845 of ‘the true proletarian Socialism having passed through Chartism, purged of its bourgeois elements, assuming the form which it has already reached in the minds of many Socialists and Chartist leaders (who are nearly all Socialists)’, and he was perhaps being a little disingenuous to add with hindsight in 1892, ‘Socialists, naturally, in the general, not the Owenistic sense’ — Condition of the Working Class, in CW, p. 526 Google Scholar

NMW, 24 May, 26 July 1845; Herald of Progress, 9 May 1846; Reasoner, 8 July 1846. Claeys gives details of other men who managed to support both Chartism and Owenism at the same time. Citizens and Saints, pp. 227-47 Google Scholar

NMW, 7 June 1845 Google Scholar

NMW, 25 May 1844 and as note 54 above; NS, 20 November 1847 Google Scholar

Moral World, 6 September 1845; NS, 20 November 1847 Google Scholar

NS, 29 April 1843 Google Scholar

Engels, Condition of the Working Class, in CW, p. 527 Google Scholar

NS, 25 September 1841 Google Scholar

Investigator, preface, October 1843. He also maintained, ‘that the universal or even general diffusion of true political knowledge is incompatible with the existence of monarchical institutions’; ibid. no. 5 [April 1843], p. 36 Google Scholar

NS, 18 October 1851. Holyoake made this statement, about the National Parliamentary and Financial Reform Association, whilst still a member of the National Charter Association executive Google Scholar

Reynolds's Newspaper, 4 January 1852; NS, 10 January 1852. For evidence of Fleming's editorship of the NS see the references to him in this capacity in the report on Owen's birthday, 17 May 1851, and on the Halifax Co-operative Festival, 3 January 1852 Google Scholar

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Royle, Victorian Infidels, pp. 252-6; Finn, After Chartism, pp. 188-225 Google Scholar

Movement, 21 September 1844. Weitling's speech was reproduced the following week Google Scholar

Movement, 14 September, 2, 23 October 1844 Google Scholar

W. J. Linton, Memories [also called Recollections], 1895, pp. 98-101; Utilitarian Record, pp. 91-2 [issued with Reasoner, 13 October 1847]. The ambiguity in some influential accounts of the early histories of the Democratic Friends and the Fraternal Democrats has led to the significance of the former and its separate tradition of broadly-based republican support being missed — see T. Rothstein, From Chartism to Labourism, 1929, pp. 127-9; G. D. H. Cole, Chartist Portraits, 1941, pp. 283-4; J. Saville, ‘Introduction’ to the reprint of the Red Republican, 1966, p. viii. D. Goodway, London Chartism, 1838-1848, Cambridge 1982, makes no reference to the Democratic Friends at all. The most detailed account comes in H. Weisser, British Working-class movements and Europe, 1815-48, Manchester, 1975, pp. 154-6 Google Scholar

Reasoner, 8 March 1848 Google Scholar

Reasoner, 15, 22 March 1848 Google Scholar

Cause of the People, 20 May 1848. It is interesting to note how ‘Nation’ has replaced ‘People’ in this rhetoric, which suggests Linton's hand in the drafting Google Scholar

Cause of the People, 20 May 1848; Reasoner, 19 April 1848; Utilitarian Record, p. 39 [issued with Reasoner, 12 April 1848]; Holyoake, Diary-cum-Notebook, 1845-52, Holyoake Collection, Bishopsgate Institute, London, entries for 9 and 10 April 1848 Google Scholar

The paper ended when the two editors fell out: see Linton, Memories, pp. 105-6 and Holyoake's Diary-cum-Notebook, 18 April-7 June 1848 Google Scholar

‘Politics: Chartists, Socialists, Communists, Prosecutions’ (1848), index of newspaper cuttings, 20 May 1848, vol. 2 no. 47, Place Collection, British Library. This paper and the strand of Chartism it represented are ignored by John Saville, 1848. The British State and the Chartist Movement, Cambridge, 1987, although Finn does give them their true importance Google Scholar

NS, 23 June 1849 Google Scholar

NS, 4 January 1851 Google Scholar

The best studies of this aspect of later Chartism are A. R. Schoyen, The Chartist Challenge, 1958, pp. 190-238 and Finn, After Chartism. Google Scholar

Reasoner, 31 May 1848. See also W. H. Fraser, Alexander Campbell and the Search for Socialism, Manchester, 1996, pp. 118-22. Place called it ‘the folly of the Age’ — F. Place to G. J. Holyoake, 8 October 1848, HC no. 106. Unfortunately the paper proved too spirited for Ashurst, who brought in Holyoake as editor in November. His greater moderation and falling sales closed the paper the following March Google Scholar

NS, 24 August 1850 Google Scholar

NS, 12 October, 2, 9, 16 November, 7 December 1850; Freethinkers' Magazine and Review, no. 8 (January 1851), pp. 277-80 Google Scholar

Marx to Engels, 23 September 1852, from J. Saville (ed.), Ernest Jones. Chartist, London, 1952, p. 237 Ernest Jones. Chartist 237 Google Scholar

Finn, After Chartism, pp. 132-4 Google Scholar

Star, 20 March 1852 Google Scholar

Royle, Robert Owen, pp. 200-8, 220-4 Google Scholar

See G. Stedman Jones, ‘Re-thinking Chartism’, in Languages of Class. Studies in English working-class history, 1832-1982, Cambridge, 1983, pp. 90-178; and E. F. Biagini and A. J. Reid (eds), Currents of Radicalism. Popular radicalism, organised labour and party politics in Britain, 1850-1914, Cambridge, 1991, esp. pp. 1-19 Languages of Class. Studies in English working-class history, 1832-1982 90 178 Google Scholar

D. S. Nash, Secularism, Art and Freedom, Leicester, 1992; E. Royle, ‘Owenism and the Secularist Tradition: the Huddersfield Secular Society and Sunday School’, in M. Chase and I. Dyck (eds), Living and Learning, Aldershot, 1996 Secularism, Art and Freedom Google Scholar

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Author details

Royle, Edward