The fragmented legacies of Chartist moral politics
in Popular virtue
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The legacy of Chartism's culture of moral improvement has been a major point of debate for several decades. While the existence of a labour aristocracy has been debunked it is also clear that working-class moral politics was a product of working-class Radicalism in the first half of the century rather than a post-Chartist imposition. For a brief period between 1848 and 1851 the Chartist movement possessed a culture evocative of earlier Radicalism, illustrated by the moralistic populism of G.W.M. Reynolds. Dietary reform and healthcare were major occupations of former Chartists in the 1850s, and the various sects of what commentators dubbed 'physical puritanism' after 1850 can be interpreted as non-political successors to Chartism. Chartist moral politics were therefore an important practical, ideological, and symbolic link between the 1840s and the era of the Reform League.

Popular virtue

Continuity and change in Radical moral politics, 1820– 70



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