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Joseph Rayner Stephens on Chartism

Stephens was an independent Methodist minister and Chartist. He made a speech at Kersal Moor, Manchester on 24 September 1838 in favour of universal suffrage, one of the points of the Charter. This is part of his speech.

... They were to tell all those who had hitherto withstood them, and trifled with them and affected to despise and scorn them - they were there to tell their foes throughout the land that they were mighty, because they knew their rights, and had the power as well as the will to obtain them. [Cheers.] The principle of the Resolution therefore, which he had risen to speak to, was a principle which every man was obliged to acknowledge in argument, though he affected to disregard it, - the principle which acknowledged the right of every man that breathed God's free air and trod God's free earth, to have his home and his hearth, and his wife and his children, as securely guaranteed to him as of any other man whom the Aristocracy had created. [Cheers.]

This question of Universal Suffrage was a knife and fork question after all; this question was a bread and cheese question, notwithstanding all that had been said against it; and if any man ask him what he meant by Universal Suffrage, he would answer, that every working man in the land had a right to have a good coat to his back, a comfortable abode in which to shelter himself and his family, a good dinner upon his table, and no more work than was necessary for keeping him in health, and as much wages for that work as would keep him in plenty, and afford him the enjoyment of all the blessings of life which a reasonable man could desire. [Tremendous cheers.]

Northern Star, 29 September 1838.

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