William Lovett was Secretary of the London Working Men’s Association and drafted the People’s Charter in 1838. Despite his passionate belief in the ideals of the Charter, he became disillusioned with the Chartist movement itself and left it just a few years after it had been established.
Born near Penzance on 8th May 1800, Lovett held jobs as a rope maker and carpenter before moving to London to become a cabinet maker. Once there, he also worked for various radical organisations that promoted the interests of the working class. The most famous of these was the London Working Men’s Association, which Lovett formed in June 1836 with publisher Henry Hetherington and printers John Cleave and James Watson. This organisation studied and debated the ideas that would form The People’s Charter, the document that detailed the core doctrine of the Chartist movement.
Often seen as the voice of moderate Chartism, Lovett favoured 'moral force' to achieve the movement's aims and opposed those who wished to use 'physical force'. Despite this, he was held responsible for a Chartist riot in the Bull Ring in Birmingham in response to the House of Commons’ rejection of the Chartist petition, and in August 1939, he was sentenced to 12 months in jail for seditious libel. Thoroughly disillusioned with the leadership of the Chartist movement, within a few years of his release in 1840, he ceased campaigning for the Charter and devoted the rest of his life to education. He taught and wrote a number of text books for the working classes, dying in poverty on 8th August 1877.
O'Connor was an Irish-born Chartist leader. The Chartists represented the first attempt to build a party representing the interests of the English working classes.
Feargus O'Connor was born in around 1796 and spent his early life on his family's estates in Ireland. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin, became a lawyer and in around 1820 inherited an estate in Cork from an uncle. During agitation for reform in the early 1830s, he emerged as an advocate of Irish rights and democratic political reform. In 1832, he was elected member of parliament for Cork with the help of Daniel O'Connell, leader of the Irish radicals. They later quarrelled and became enemies. O'Connor was an outspoken critic of the Whig government's policies in England and Ireland. In London, he allied himself with popular radicals and after losing his seat in 1835, embarked on a career as a leader of English popular radicalism.
O'Connor toured the country campaigning for political reform, universal male suffrage and better working conditions, particularly in the industrial districts of England and Scotland. He was well-known for his charismatic and incendiary speeches and his efforts laid the groundwork for Chartism. This was essentially an umbrella movement (named after a six-point charter of demands) of the 1830s and 1840s which drew together many strands of radical grievance. O'Connor's newspaper 'The Northern Star', which he established in 1837, provided the most effective link between these different strands. O'Connor was identified with the more radical side of the movement and was imprisoned for libel in 1840. The same year, he attempted with little success to unify the Chartist movement and give it direction with the National Charter Association (1840).
From the early 1840s, O'Connor's attention began to shift to what he believed was working people's alienation from the land. He developed an idea to buy up agricultural estates, divide them into smallholdings and let these to individuals. This developed into the 'National Land Company' (1845 - 1851). The scheme was a disaster and soon went…