On 4 November 1839 the political desires of the working men of south Wales found violent expression in the Chartist Uprising at Newport. Restlessness had been rife among the working population of Britain for many months due to an eagerness to secure suffrage for working men.
The political movement of Chartism developed following the 1832 Reform Act due to the widespread disappointment at the provisions in the act. In June 1836 the London’s Workingmen’s Association was formed and in 1838, the members launched a People’s Charter and National Petition which called for radical changes to the way in which Britain was governed. Supporters of the movement were from then on known as Chartists. Among the six demands listed on the People’s Charter were frequent elections, annual parliaments, secret ballots and universal suffrage for men over twenty-one years of age.
Chartism gained popularity in Wales, particularly among the textile workers of mid-Wales and the workers of industrial south Wales, particularly Monmouthshire where Chartist lodges had been established since 1837. Tensions began to increase in 1839, with a disturbance occurring at a Chartist meeting in Llanidloes in April.
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Poems by Helen Thomas
'His temperature up again?' sketch by C.H. Shields
Booklet mourning death of protester Helen Thomas
Trefechan Bridge Protest, 2 February 1963
The Welsh Language Society's first protest
© Casgliad y Werin Cymru, The People's Collection Wales 2011
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