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The Inheritance
Reform to 1850
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The Voice of Radicalism

The Chartists - Reform to 1850

Chartism was a political and radical movement of the working class. During the 1830s and 40s, it affected the whole of Britain. The Chartists signed a charter demanding that:

  • All men should qualify to vote
  • Constituencies should have an equal number of electors
  • Voting should be by secret ballot
  • A new parliament should be elected every year
  • There should be no need to own or rent a certain amount of property to qualify to stand as a candidate
  • MPs should receive £500 a year.

Chartism in Aberdeen

  • In 1839, 20,000 people attended a rally on the Broadhills to support the Charter
  • James Legge, a stonemason was the first chairman of the Aberdeen Charter Union
  • Mrs Legge led a small group of female Chartists who wanted votes for all adults, and not just for men
  • John McPherson, a comb-maker and chairman of the Aberdeen Chartists, stood for parliament in 1847. He only polled nine votes
  • Joseph Hume, the Radical MP for the Montrose Burghs from 1842-55, agreed with most of the Chartists’ demands.

Many people believed that the Chartists were dangerous revolutionaries. In some places there were Chartist riots, but not in Aberdeen. All the aims of the Chartists have been achieved, apart from annual parliaments.

  • There was no obvious Chartist activity outside Aberdeen.

The Complete Suffrage Union

  • Middle and working class activists formed a branch of the Complete Suffrage Union in 1842
  • They were less extreme than the Chartists.

They included:

  • George Thomson junior, a ship-owner and Aberdeen MP from 1852-57
  • James Hall, a shipbuilder.

Reform to 1850 >>

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