The People’s Charter


During the 1830s, continued dissatisfaction with the limited extension of the franchise achieved in 1832 led to the emergence of a new reform movement known as Chartism. The movement took its name from this pamphlet, which was drafted predominantly by the cabinet-maker, William Lovett (1800–1877), and was first published by the London Working Men’s Association in May 1838. Unlike Magna Carta, which secured the barons’ liberties, The People’s Charter sought to win liberties for ordinary working men. The pamphlet set out the six points of reform that became the basis of the Chartist movement’s manifesto: universal adult male suffrage; the abolition of the property qualification for Members of Parliament; annual Parliaments; equal electoral districts; payment of Members of Parliament; and voting by secret ballot. The last point was promoted heavily in this publication, with a complicated design for carrying out a secret ballot being displayed opposite the title page.

Full title:
The People's Charter; being the outline of an act to provide for the just representation of the people of Great Britain in the Commons' House of Parliament ... Prepared by a Committee of twelve persons, six Members of Parliament and six members of the London Working Men's Association, etc.
c.1838, London
Charter / Pamphlet / Illustration
Working Men's Association
Held by:
British Library
Usage terms:
Public Domain

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