Contesting new administrative geographies in the 1830s and 1840s
in Protest and the politics of space and place, 1789–1848
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Excluded from the civic body politic, radicals found new opportunities to enter it in the 1830s. This chapter examines how different groups contested not just the spaces of political meeting or the physical imposition of the new legislation of the 1830s, but also the very governing bodies that controlled those spaces and institutions. It follows radicals and Chartists’ contests over positions in the vestry, improvement and police commissions, new poor law and factory boards, municipal corporations and finally, members of parliament. The chapter also surveys further battles over the use of public space and civic institutions. It argues that municipal Chartism was a successful and significant policy that enabled radicals to challenge local elites effectively and to claim part of the civic body politic. Local power was important in and of itself, as well as being a step towards accessing national power.

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