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See A. Briggs, ed., Chartist Studies (1959); M. Hovell, The Chartist Movement (3d ed. 1967); J. T. Ward, Chartism (1973); D. Goodway, London Chartism, 1838–1848 (1982); C. Godfrey, Chartist Lives (1987).
the basic program document of English Chartism.
The People’s Charter was drawn up by the leaders of the London Working Men’s Association, among whom was W. Lovett, and was published on May 8, 1838. It provided for universal male suffrage at age 21 without property qualification and a parliament annually elected by secret ballot that would have salaried members and constituencies of equal size. Had the British working class possessed a militant political organization, adoption of the People’s Charter would have opened the way to power for the proletariat, given the fact that workers made up the majority of the population. However, the Chartists themselves interpreted the document in different ways. The revolutionary wing looked on it as a means of destroying class rule by the bourgeoisie while socially liberating the working people. The most advanced leaders of Chartism, such as E. Jones, added a number of socialist demands to the charter in 1851. But the reformist element, which came to include Lovett himself, interpreted the People’s Charter in a spirit defined by petit bourgeois democratic ideals.
PUBLICATIONIn P. W. Slosson. Chartistskoe dvizhenie iprichiny ego upadka. Moscow, 1923. (Translated from English.)
L. I. GOL’MAN