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Chartism was a working-class movement for political reform in Britain which existed from 1838 to 1850 (although there was a slow fade-out in the movement after 1848) and which took its name from the People's Charter of 1838. It was a national protest movement, with particular strongholds of support in the north of England, the east Midlands, the Potteries, the Black Country and south Wales. 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 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 Yorkshire.The People's Charter called for six reforms to make the political system more democratic:A vote for every man 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 – thus enabling the constituencies to return the man of their choice, be he rich or poor.Payment of Members, thus enabling an honest trades-man, working man, or other person, to serve a constituency; when taken from his business to attend to the interests of the country.Equal Constituencies, securing the same amount of representation for the same number of electors, instead of allowing small constituencies to swamp the votes of large ones.Annual Parliament Elections, thus present the most effectual check to bribery and intimidation, since as the constituency might be bought once in seven years (even with the ballot), no purse could buy a constituency (under a system of universal suffrage) in each ensuing twelvemonth; and since member, when elected for a year only, would not be able to defy and betray their constituents as now.Chartism can be interpreted as a continuation of the 18th century fight against corruption and for democracy in an industrial society, but it attracted considerably more support than the radical groups of that time, and economic causes of support for the movement – wage cuts, unemployment etc – should not be played down.

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