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Divisions in Chartism: the traditional model

The subdivision of Chartism into "moral" and "physical" force is too simple a generalisation. Divisions between leaders at national level were repeated within each provincial centre. Not all were agreed on the objectives of Chartism, let alone the methodology. The main centres of provincial Chartism were the Yorkshire woollen and Lancashire cotton manufacturing areas - home to the Northern Chartist Association and the area of new working-class radicalism. These areas tended towards violence.

The woollen and cotton industries themselves were not only different but were in mutual competition. The workers in the mills were rivals and also shared a rivalry with the hand-workers.

Artisan Chartism

Weaver Chartism

moral force

physical force

political and prosperous

economic 'hunger' Chartism

peaceful, constitutional and educational (manifestos and committees)

violent, conspiratorial (arming and drilling)

southern: London and Birmingham

northern industrial towns

worked with the middle classes


potentially proto-liberal

Potentially proto-socialist

leaders: Lovett, Place, Attwood, Sturge

leaders: O'Connor, Harney, Taylor, O'Brien

This view is too simplistic. Regional studies show that the divisions were not so clear-cut as the model suggests.

London Chartism
Birmingham Chartism
South Yorkshire Chartism
Manchester Chartism
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Last modified 4 March, 2016

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