Why Did Chartism Fail?

In: Historical Events

Submitted By Gandalf2013
Words 1639
Pages 7
Why did Chartism Fail? * Chartism failed because of economic factors – it was simply a ‘knife and fork question’ * Chartism failed because of the inherent weakness of the movement and internal divisions within the movement * Chartism did not really fail in the truest sense of the word – it was defeated by the state
Economic Factors
Some historians have argued that improving economic conditions ensured the Chartist movement faded after 1848 – there had been worsening economic conditions in the period after 1837 which gave rise to the chartist movement. After this period, the lessening economic instability, growing prosperity and rise in living standards after 1848 removed basis for widespread discontent. In economic prosperity – Chartism could no longer be sustained.
The interpretation has been questioned in recent decades – economic historians began questioning how stable the British economy really was during this time in ‘Mid-Victorian Boom’ (1850-73) e.g. Cunningham – disagrees as he believes the economy continued to fluctuate.
A series of subtle economic changes undermined the movement after 1848 and led to the movement’s eventual fall. 1. Development of Railways – Provided stimulus to industries; iron, steel and coal. Economic growth less narrowly based than in period before 1850 when textiles had been leading sector 2. Factory Legislation – Legislation redefined management practices and relationships in the workplace; 1850s-60s saw development of new and more moderate form of trade unionism – ‘New Model Unions’. Unions represented interests of an emerging ‘labour aristocracy’ – wealthiest 10-15% of working class who enjoyed superior wages and improved working conditions. This group may have previously led working-class protest movement like Chartism, increasingly favourable economic climate of 50s and 60s prompted members of group to…...

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