Solidarity Grows

Submitted by Daniel_Randall on 10 November, 2004 - 8:47

Contemporary accounts of labour movement struggles from the 1830's.

The True Sun, 25 March 1834: “A public meeting of the productive classes was held yesterday at the National Institution, Charlotte St [London], to take measures for obtaining the remission of the extraordinary sentences passed at the Dorchester Assizes last week… Mr Robert Owen [socialist pioneer] spoke… He would assert that the working classes of Great Britain and Ireland were in a worse condition than any slaves, in any country, at any period of the world. But that could not continue. The meeting of that day convinced him that the time of salvation was near. They had acquired a knowledge of the wonderful, the irresistible strength of union… All they had to do was unite as one man, and to declare to the world that it was right and just that all the people of the earth, without reference to class, party, sect, country or colour, should determine to carry out this principle of eternal justice, that they are the owners of their own labour…”

(The True Sun was a Radical newspaper, with a circulation at this time of around 30,000. It was one of the leading proponents of political reform and the extension of the franchise.)

A massive demonstration was held at Copenhagen Fields on 21 April 1834. The purpose was to take a gigantic petition to the king for the remission of the sentence for the Dorchester men.

The True Sun, 27 April: “By nine o’clock the great majority of the lodges (trade union branches) had arrived and the dense mass drawn up behind the banners were almost incalculable, but other lodges were still seen approaching from all parts of the compass, and the intended line of march appeared perfectly black with human beings, who stood in thousands on the raised mounds on each side…”

The True Sun, 31 March 1834: “At the moment in which we are writing Birmingham is pouring out her thousands of co-operators in the cause. The workmen of that great town are making a noble and generous use of their holiday hours by devoting them to the good work of endeavouring to procure a reversion of the sentence of banishment passed upon their agricultural brethren…”

Add new comment

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.