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The splinter movements from Chartism

The physical force element of Chartism attacked the splinter groups advocated by the more moderate Chartists:

My fustianed, blistered, unshorn friends -

When a principle is once agreed upon, the safe, the sure, and the speedy means of its accomplishment should be the one great and never abandoned object of its advocates; and, therefore, the labour which I have undertaken becomes narrowed to the simple consideration of the fact, whether Church Chartism, Teetotal Chartism, Knowledge Chartism or Household Chartism, are, each or all, or any of them, likely to be a safe, a sure, and a speedy means towards the achievement of the Charter.

I contend for it, that unless the four sections form of themselves, in the first instance, a quadruple alliance, that their four distinct and different means to an end, though that end by identical and the same, constitute a prima facie case against them, and is calculated to lead to sectional and party dispute, and, ultimately, to class distinction ...

Chartism is, although an extensive, yet a well-defined political designation of a political party. Christian Chartism, though apparently all-embracing in the meaning, carries with it exclusion of all other sects from whom we expect political aid....

I object to Teetotal Chartism, because all who do not join in it, and I fear they are many, will be considered as unworthy their civil rights.

I object to Knowledge Chartism, because it impliedly acknowledges a standard of some sort of learning, education, or information, as a necessary qualification to entitle man to his political rights. In fact, the Whigs think opposition to Whiggery, and the Tories think opposition to Toryism, a perfectly good and valid ground, whereon to establish popular ignorance, and a consequent political disqualification.

I object to Household Suffrage Chartism, because it is not Chartism at all.

In fact, I look for the Charter to promote Christianity, to insure temperence, to inculcate knowledge, and to give the House and something more, while the use of those several qualifications, as a means to an end, will but place the Charter, year after year, further from our reach. The Christians will say, 'you haven't your Chartist catechism'. The Teetotallers will say, 'you're drunk'. The teachers will say, 'you're ignorant', and the Householders will say, 'you're houseless'. So that you need not one qualification but four qualifications....

Believe me, if you allow these four sections to mix up each their peculiar tenets with your cause, you will have raised unto yourselves four powerful enemies. ...

I am anxious to see every Chartist a good Christian, a good neighbour, and a good friend. I am desirous of seeing every Chartist sober, industrious, and honest, full of knowledge and filling houses. ... But once make non-conformity ground for exclusion, and you establish sects and sections, instead of one universal corps of regenerators.

My friends, get your Charter, and I will answer for the religion, sobriety, knowledge, and house, and a bit of land into the bargain.

Feargus O'Connor, Northern Star, 3 April 1841.


Parallel movements are hostile movements, under another name. It is only by a united and concerted action that the people can conquer. Let them be split into a dozen parties, all advocating a similar thing, but advocating it in a different way, and there would be an end to all their hopes ... Union is the only guarantee of success.

Ernest Jones, People's Paper, 8 May 1852.

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