Chartist Newspapers in Britain circa 1830-1852.


The Chartist movement emerged out of the London Working Men’s Association in 1836.
Several of the leaders of this group were already involved in publishing radical newspapers. Henry Hetherington had been the publisher of the very popular The Poor Man’s Guardian and James Watson had edited the Working Man’s Friend.
In 1836 John Cleave was the publisher and editor of the most successful radical newspaper in Britain. Cleave’s the Weekly Police Gazette was selling over 40,000 copies a week.
As well as providing information on the latest crimes in Britain, Cleave’s newspaper also campaigned for the Chartist movement. William Lovett, the leader of the Chartists, also edited a newspaper, The Charter.
This newspaper was much more intellectual in its approach that the Weekly Police Gazette and only managed to sell 6,000 copies a week. Another newspaper that supported the Chartists in 1836 was The Champion, a journal inspired by the ideas of William Cobbett.
The Charter, The Champion and the Weekly Police Gazette, were all written and published by supporters of Moral Force Chartism.
The supporters of the Physical Force Chartists felt that there was a need for a newspaper that represented their views.
In 1837, Feargus O’Connor, the Leeds representative of the London Working Mens’ Association, decided to establish a weekly radical newspaper in Yorkshire.
The first edition of the Northern Star was published on 26th May, 1838. Within four months of starting publication, O’Connor’s newspaper was selling 10,000 copies a week.
The success of the Northern Star encouraged other Chartists to publish newspapers.
This included newspapers edited by George Julian Harney (Democrat and the Red Republican); Bronterre O’Brien (The Southern Star and The Northern Liberator) and Thomas Cooper (The Illuminator and The Extinguisher).
One of the most popular Chartist newspapers was the Scottish Chartist Circular and for a while sold 22,000 copies a week.
In 1851 Ernest Jones and George Julian Harney started a new radical newspaper, The Friend of the People. Jones wrote: “The very first, the most essential requisite of a movement is to have an organ to record its proceedings, to communicate through, with its several branches – to appeal through, to exhort through, to speak through, to defend through, to teach through.
A movement that has not the mighty organ of the press at its command is but half a movement – it is a disenfranchised cause, dependent on others, pensioned on others, pauper on others for the expression of its opinions.”
After a dispute with Harney in 1851, Jones started his own journal, The People’s Paper. Jones attempted to publish what he hoped would be a “complete newspaper”. As well as news of the Chartist movement, The People’s Paper included reports of parliamentary debates, public meeting and what Jones called “legal, political, mercantile and general intelligence.”
The newspaper became a socialist newspaper and one of his main contributors included Karl Marx, who was now living in exile in London.
The circulation figures of these newspapers reflected the fortunes of the Chartist movement.
For example, the sales of the Northern Star fell from 50,000 in 1839 to 1,200 a week in 1851. In April 1852 Feargus O’Connor sold the Northern Star to its former editor, George Julian Harney.
Harney merged it with the Friend of the People and called his new paper, the Star of Freedom. However, the Star of Freedom only survived a few months and in December, 1852, the last of the Chartist newspapers came to an end.
via John Simkins, Spartacus UK

Burston Strike School, 1914-1939.

The Burston Schoolchildren march in support of Kitty and Tom Higdon.
The longest strike in history was not staged by miners but by minors – the children of a small village in Norfolk.

Pictured: Tom and Kitty Higdon in 1938, not long before Tom’s death.
On 1 April, 1914, pupils of the Burston village school, supported by their parents, took to the streets in protest at the dismissal of their teachers, Tom and Kitty Higdon.
The strike lasted for over 25 years.
‘There really can be no peace or victory for us which does not bring with it freedom for the countryside, liberty and life for the labourer and prosperity and plenty to his home and family. The labourer must henceforth take his place industrially, socially and politically with the best and foremost of the land. He must do this himself – by the force and power of his union. And he can!
– Schoolteacher Tom Higdon, quoted in The Labourer, January 1917.
In 1902, a Parliamentary Education Bill was introduced offering education to ‘working-class children’. ‘Education’ in this sense meant little more than instructing children as to their place in society, preparing them for service or factory/agricultural work.
Though it’s often omitted from modern performances, the 1848 children’s hymn ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ contained a second verse that spoke directly to the discontent among the working classes: ‘The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate / He made them, high or lowly, and ordered their estate.’ It was this sentiment that was felt to be of greatest benefit to the children.
But there were many educated Working- or Middle-class people who saw through the indoctrination and felt that every person, regardless of background, should be treated with equal respect – or rather, that a person’s breeding did not automatically guarantee them authority over ‘lower’ stock.
Photo: Kitty and Tom Higdon with their supporters. Kitty and Tom are seated.
Highly agricultural areas such as Norfolk were seen by the Agricultural Workers Union as ripe for recruitment.
Annie Katherine Schollick – known as ‘Kitty’ – was born in 1865 in Cheshire. Tom Higdon was born in 1869, the son of a Somerset farm labourer.
The pair were married in 1896 and eventually moved to Norfolk in 1902, the same year that the Education Act came into force.
They were proud of their beliefs as both Christians (Primitive Methodists) and Socialists, beliefs that made them idealists who hoped to use education as a means to making a better life for the next generation, rather in conflict with the thinking behind the Education Act as a means of preserving the status quo.
The Primitive Methodists were active Christians who fought for the low paid farm workers and their families and helped them to form their labour Unions.

The Higdons began teaching at Wood Dalling County School, near Aylsham in Norfolk, on 14 April, 1902, with Kitty appointed as headmistress and Tom as assistant teacher.
Almost immediately they found themselves at odds with the establishment, specifically the farm-owning managers of the school. In the view of the Higdons, the school was squalid and unsuitable for children to inhabit.
Furthermore, the land owners insisted on pulling children out of school whenever the seasons dictated that they needed cheap labour. Tom Higdon’s frustration with one land owner resulted in Tom being fined 40 shillings for assault.
By 1911, the Higdons found they were fighting a losing battle as the school managers refused to make concessions for the good of the children. The Norfolk Education Committee arranged that they be transferred to another Norfolk school, in the village of Burston, near Diss.


READ ON further via The Burston Strike School History – Burston Strike School

Fanny Trollope an early Feminist.

Forced by financial hardships to write, Fanny Trollope, who died 150 years ago, produced 40 novels and travel books at the rate of two a year. “Let it be as bad as it will, I shall get something for it,” was her attitude.
She was a natural. That she could rescue her debt-ridden menage this way was remarkable, but she also managed to voice principles and her instinct was always to defend the underdog.
She was a feminist before the word existed. She wrote one of the first novels in English about American slavery – The Life and Adventures of Jonathan Jefferson Whitlaw (1836).
In Domestic Manners of the Americans, she railed against the injustice meted out to Native Americans, too: “You will see them one hour lecturing their mob on the indefeasible rights of man, and the next driving from their homes the children of the soil, whom they have bound themselves to protect by the most solemn treaties.”
Trollope was one of those foreigners not taken in by the American dream: she came, she saw, and she returned to Europe (although for a time she was stuck in Cincinnati).
Trollope loved a spectacle, and was willing to make one of herself, too. For this, she was denounced as unfeminine and lacking in decorum. “Oh! … that ladies would make puddings and mend stockings!” Thackeray moaned after reading one of her books.
The novelist Elizabeth Lynn Linton was more indulgent, describing Trollope as”a vulgar, brisk and good-natured kind of well-bred hen wife, fond of a joke and not troubled by squeamishness.\”
The woman was undeniably brave, but what I like most about her is her curiosity. She talked to everybody and visited everything: mountains, cottages, waterfalls, schools, prisons, Viennese catacombs stuffed with corpses, and Congress, employing every means of travel then available (donkey, steamboat, raft, carriage).
She also had an eye and ear for the telling detail. Americans, she observed, were always spitting and never thanked anybody, and alligators actually ate people.
Her take on autobiographical fiction? “I draw from life – but I always pulp my acquaintance before serving them up. You would never recognise a pig in a sausage.”
via Fanny Trollope by Lucy Ellmann

The Women of the 1381 Peasants Revolt in England.

Until now the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 is largely believed to have been led by a mob of rebel men, but new research shows women played an important role in orchestrating violence against the government.
Today people are used to the idea of women being in the military. Some are already pressing for the right to fight on the front line.
But there’s a growing feeling historians have overlooked their role in medieval rebellions like 1381′s Peasants Revolt.
On 14 June 1381, rebels dragged Lord Chancellor Simon of Sudbury from the Tower of London and brutally beheaded him.
Outraged by his hated poll tax, the insurgents had stormed into London looking for him, plundering and burning buildings as they went.
It was the leader of the group who arrested Sudbury and dragged him to the chopping block, ordering that he be beheaded.
Her name was Johanna Ferrous.
In court documents she was described as “chief perpetrator and leader of rebellious evildoers from Kent”. She also ordered the death of the treasurer, Robert Hales.
As well as leading the rebels into London, she was charged with burning the Savoy Palace – the grandest townhouse in London at the time – and stealing a chest of gold from a duke.
So why are women like Ferrous largely hidden from popular history, yet charismatic rebel leaders such as the “mad priest” John Ball and Wat Tyler dominate in the history books?
Some historians now suggest that sexist attitudes permeated medieval history.

Powerful Images of Women of Courage.

Saffiyah Khan staring down English Defence League protester Ian Crossland during a demonstration in Birmingham.
Image Credit: Photograph by Joe Giddens/PA
Shows of strength and defiance aren’t in short supply at your average protest – demonstrating, by its nature, requires a level of commitment that weeds out the bystanders.
But what is it that makes the money shot? The protest photo that goes viral?
Women, or, more accurately, one woman. Often a striking, beautiful-looking woman.
But mostly, a woman who looks like a badass and yet displays a quiet dignity.

A demonstrator faces down a riot policeman during a protest marking the country’s 1973 military coup in Santiago, Chile on 11 September 2016.
Image Credit: Photograph by Carlos Vera/Reuters
Source: Protest photos: the power of one woman against the world | World news | The Guardian

Women Cycling to Suffrage in America, circa 1890s.

The bicycle, when it was still new technology, went through a series of rapid iterations in the 19th century before it really went mainstream.
Designers toyed with different-sized front and back wheels, the addition of chains and cranks and pedals, and tested a slew of braking mechanisms.
By the 1890s, America was totally obsessed with the bicycle—which by then looked pretty much like the ones we ride today. There were millions of bikes on the roads and a new culture built around the technology.
People started “wheelmen” clubs and competed in races. They toured the country and compared tricks and stunts.
The craze was meaningful, especially, for women.
Both Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are credited with declaring that “woman is riding to suffrage on the bicycle,” a line that was printed and reprinted in newspapers at the turn of the century.
The bicycle took “old-fashioned, slow-going notions of the gentler sex,” as The Courier (Nebraska) reported in 1895, and replaced them with “some new woman, mounted on her steed of steel.”

via How the Bicycle Paved the Way for Women’s Rights – Adrienne LaFrance – The Atlantic.