On this day:
1836 – The formation of the London Working Men’s Association gives rise to the Chartist Movement.
The London Working Men’s Association was an organisation established in London in 1836. It was one of the foundations of Chartism. The founders were William Lovett, Francis Place and Henry Hetherington. They appealed to skilled workers rather than the mass of unskilled factory labourers. They were associated with Owenite socialism and the movement for general education.
Chartism was a working-class movement for political reform in Britain that existed from 1838 to 1857. It took its name from the People’s Charter of 1838 and was a national protest movement, with particular strongholds of support in Northern England, the East Midlands, the Staffordshire Potteries, the Black Country, and the South Wales Valleys. Support for the movement was at its highest in 1839, 1842, and 1848, when petitions signed by millions of working people were presented to the House of Commons. The strategy employed was to use the scale of support which these petitions and the accompanying mass meetings demonstrated to put pressure on politicians to concede manhood suffrage. Chartism thus relied on constitutional methods to secure its aims, though there were some who became involved in insurrectionary activities, notably in south Wales and in Yorkshire.
The People’s Charter called for six reforms to make the political system more democratic:
A vote for every man (earlier, every person but this was dropped due to middle-class pressure) twenty-one years of age, of sound mind, and not undergoing punishment for a crime.
The secret ballot to protect the elector in the exercise of his vote.
No property qualification for Members of Parliament in order to allow the constituencies to return the man of their choice.
Payment of Members, enabling tradesmen, working men, or other persons of modest means to leave or interrupt their livelihood to attend to the interests of the nation.
Equal constituencies, securing the same amount of representation for the same number of electors, instead of allowing less populous constituencies to have as much or more weight than larger ones.
Annual Parliamentary elections, thus presenting the most effectual check to bribery and intimidation, since no purse could buy a constituency under a system of universal manhood suffrage in each twelve-month period.
Chartists saw themselves fighting against political corruption and for democracy in an industrial society, but attracted support beyond the radical political groups for economic reasons, such as opposing wage cuts and unemployment.
Born on this day:
1738 – Mary Katherine Goddard, American publisher (d. 1816)
Mary Katherine Goddard (June 16, 1738 – August 12, 1816) was an early American publisher and the postmaster of the Baltimore Post Office from 1775 to 1789. She was the first to print the Declaration of Independence with the names of the signatories.
Mary Katherine Goddard was born in Southern New England in 1738. She was the daughter of Dr. Giles Goddard and Sarah Updike Goddard. Her father was the postmaster of New London, which could explain why Mary and her brother had long careers and natural interest in the postal system and the printing business.
Her brother, William Goddard (1740-1817), was a few years younger and had served an apprenticeship in the printing trade. The Goddards (Mrs. Goddard, William Goddard and Mary Goddard) set up a printing press and published Providence’s first newspaper, the Providence Gazette. However, William left Rhode Island to start a newspaper in Philadelphia. William also had been the publisher and printer of a revolutionary publication, the Maryland Journal. Mary Goddard took control of the journal in 1774 while her brother was traveling to promote his Constitutional Post; she continued to publish it throughout the American Revolutionary War until 1784. Her brother forced her to give up the newspaper amid an acrimonious quarrel. In 1775, Mary Katharine Goddard became postmaster of the Baltimore post office. She also ran a book store and published an almanac in offices located around 250 Market Street (now East Baltimore Street, near South Street).
When on January 18, 1777, the Second Continental Congress moved that the Declaration of Independence be widely distributed, Goddard was one of the first to offer the use of her press. This was in spite of the risks of being associated with what was considered a treasonable document by the British. Her copy, the Goddard Broadside, was the second printed, and the first to contain the typeset names of the signatories, including John Hancock. During the American Revolution, Goddard opposed the Stamp Act vehemently, recognizing it would increase the cost of printing.
Goddard was a successful postmaster for 14 years. In 1789, however, she was removed from the position by Postmaster General Samuel Osgood despite general protest from the Baltimore community. Mary Katherine Goddard generally did not take part in public controversies, preferring to maintain editorial objectivity; therefore, few articles contain her personal opinions, and her defense was not mounted publicly. Osgood asserted that the position required “more traveling…than a woman could undertake” and appointed a political ally of his to replace her. On November 12, 1789, over 230 citizens of Baltimore, including more than 200 leading businessmen, presented a petition demanding her reinstatement. It was, however, unsuccessful. Following her dismissal, Goddard sold books, stationery, and dry goods. She died August 12, 1816, still beloved by her community.
She was posthumously inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame in 1998.
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