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The Peterloo Massacre

Martyrs Parliamentary Reform English History Peterloo 19th Century Democracy

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#1
caltrek

caltrek

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I am nearly finished with my re-reading of The Making of the English Working Class.  In  that book, among many other related  topics, E.P. Thompson writes about the Peterloo massacre. Other than Thompson, it is not an event one reads much about, yet in its way it was a pivotal event.  Below is from the Wikipedia take on that incident, which seems to conform nicely with Thompson's version:

 

Peterloo Massacre

 

https://en.wikipedia...terloo_Massacre

 

Introduction:

 

 (Wikipedia) The Peterloo Massacre occurred at St Peter's Field, Manchester, England, on 16 August 1819, when cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000–80,000 who had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation.

 

The end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 had resulted in periods of famine and chronic unemployment, exacerbated by the introduction of the first of the Corn Laws. By the beginning of 1819, the pressure generated by poor economic conditions, coupled with the relative lack of suffrage in Northern England, had enhanced the appeal of political radicalism. In response, the Manchester Patriotic Union, a group agitating for parliamentary reform, organised a demonstration to be addressed by the well-known radical orator Henry Hunt.

 

Shortly after the meeting began local magistrates called on the military authorities to arrest Hunt and several others on the hustings with him, and to disperse the crowd. Cavalry charged into the crowd with sabres drawn, and in the ensuing confusion, 15 people were killed and 400–700 were injured. The massacre was given the name Peterloo in an ironic comparison to the Battle of Waterloo, which had taken place four years earlier.

 

Historian Robert Poole has called the Peterloo Massacre one of the defining moments of its age. In its own time, the London and national papers shared the horror felt in the Manchester region, but Peterloo's immediate effect was to cause the government to crack down on reform, with the passing of what became known as the Six Acts. It also led directly to the foundation of The Manchester Guardian (now The Guardian), but had little other effect on the pace of reform. In a survey conducted by The Guardian in 2006, Peterloo came second to the Putney Debates as the event from radical British history that most deserved a proper monument or a memorial. Peterloo is commemorated by a plaque close to the site, a replacement for an earlier one that was criticised as being inadequate as it did not reflect the scale of the massacre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#2
caltrek

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The People's Chronology by James Trager also has a short take on the Peterloo massacre, some of which reads as follows:

 

 

 

The incident is followed by the Six Acts passed by Parliament in December (of 1819), a repressive code that curtails public meetings, forbids training in the use of firearms, empowers magistrates to search citizens for arms and seize any that may be found, provides for speedy trial in "case of misdeameanor," increase the penalties for seditious libel, and limits radical journalism by imposing the newspaper stamp duty on all periodicals containing news.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Martyrs, Parliamentary Reform, English History, Peterloo, 19th Century, Democracy

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