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Katrina Navickas

The Peterloo Massacre was more than just a Manchester event. The attendees, on whom Manchester industry depended, came from a large spread of the wider textile regions. The large demonstrations that followed in the autumn of 1819, protesting against the actions of the authorities, were pan-regional and national. The reaction to Peterloo established the massacre as firmly part of the radical canon of martyrdom in the story of popular protest for democracy. This article argues for the significance of Peterloo in fostering a sense of regional and northern identities in England. Demonstrators expressed an alternative patriotism to the anti-radical loyalism as defined by the authorities and other opponents of mass collective action.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library

This book is a wide-ranging survey of the development of mass movements for democracy and workers’ rights in northern England. It surveys movements throughout the whole period, from the first working-class radical societies of the 1790s to trade unions in the 1830s and Chartists and Owenite socialists in the 1840s. It offers a provocative narrative of the privatisation of public space and workers’ dispossession from place, with parallels for contemporary debates about protests in public space and democracy and anti-globalisation movements.

Space and place are central to the strategies and meaning of protest. The book examines the reaction by governments and local authorities, who sought to restrict public and private political meetings, demonstrations and marches. It charts the physical and symbolic conflicts over who had the right to speak and meet in northern England. The Peterloo Massacre of 1819 marked a particularly significant turning point in the relationship between government, local elites and the working classes. Radicals, organised labour and Chartists fought back by challenging their exclusion from public spaces, creating their own sites and eventually constructing their own buildings. They looked to new horizons, including America. This book also examines the relationship of protesters with place. Rural resistance, including enclosure riots, arson and machine-breaking during Luddism in 1812 and the Captain Swing agitation of the early 1830s, demonstrated communities’ defence of their landscape as a place of livelihood and customary rights.

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Katrina Navickas
in Protest and the politics of space and place, 1789–1848
Katrina Navickas

The French Revolution polarised popular politics in England. This chapter examines the rise of working-class radical societies and the response by loyalist elites in the 1790s. It argues that loyalism involved enforcing processes of exclusion and intrusion. Radicals were excluded from meeting in civic buildings and pubs, and from taking part in local government. Magistrates intruded into private meetings through spies and arrests. This chapter focuses on the cases of Thomas Walker of Manchester and Joseph Gales of Sheffield, forced out of their business and civic lives by the threat of loyalist suppression. It also examines popular loyalism in the form of burnings of effigies of Thomas Paine and ‘Church and King’ riots.

in Protest and the politics of space and place, 1789–1848
Katrina Navickas

From 1795 radicals and trades unions held mass meetings in politically resonant sites. This chapter examines their defence of the liberty to meet during and after the French and Napoleonic wars. It surveys the response in northern England to government legislation against ‘seditious’ writings and meetings. It underlines the significance of the ‘mass platform’ and its meeting sites, and how working-class groups hired their own meeting rooms and developed networks of delegates and unions across the North. These were sites of contestation over legality and public space. The March of the Blanketeers in 1817 marked a turning point in government fears of revolution and in radicals’ strategies. The chapter concludes with the revival of reform societies in 1818-19, providing the context for the Peterloo Massacre of 1819.

in Protest and the politics of space and place, 1789–1848
Katrina Navickas

The Peterloo Massacre of 16 August 1819 in Manchester was the defining event of this period. It unified radical groups across northern England and indeed Britain in a shared abhorrence of the authorities’ actions. It also made loyalists across the country and in government reconsider their attitude towards public assemblies and working-class collective action. The ‘Six Acts’ of late 1819 reflected the government’s changed attitude towards ‘sedition’, whereby they moved away from seeking to prosecute for seditious libel and concentrated on public assemblies causing fear among local elites. This chapter then examines the last flourish of radical activity in the Queen Caroline agitation of 1820 before collective action subsided in the 1820s.

in Protest and the politics of space and place, 1789–1848
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Radical locales
Katrina Navickas

This case study examines the ‘locale’ of north Manchester comprising of the Ancoats, New Cross and St. George’s districts, between 1797 and 1840. It locates radical meeting sites and residences to demonstrate the continuity of radical activity in particular areas in successive political movements over generations. It argues that the distinctive socio-economic make-up of the locale, especially of mixed English and Irish immigrants and artisans, fostered such political activity.

in Protest and the politics of space and place, 1789–1848
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The reform crisis, 1830–2
Katrina Navickas

This short chapter examines the revival of radical and reform activity in the build up to the first Reform Act in 1832. The growth of political unions campaigning for universal suffrage and parliamentary reform was prominent in northern England, drawing strength and spread from the short time movement. Political unions were divided by class, however, and these divisions manifested themselves in contests over meeting sites, particularly in Manchester and Leeds. It concludes by asking whether a revolutionary situation could or did occur in northern England in comparison with the Midlands and southern England.

in Protest and the politics of space and place, 1789–1848
Katrina Navickas

The 1830s were the ‘age of reform’. This chapter examines the bodily and often violent protests against the Whig reforms and legislation of the 1830s, especially the 1832 Anatomy act, the new poor law of 1834, and the Rural Constabulary act of 1839. Radicals depicted these reforms as part of a Malthusian policy to attack the working-class body and to split up the pauper family. Protesters responded by bodily violence and by invoking ‘disembodied’ fear, through the use of effigies and other corporeal symbols. Trade unions employed violence against strike-breakers, machinery and the new police in defence of their collective body and against a laissez-faire political economy. These campaigns developed the essential organisation and ideologies that fed into the rise of Chartism from 1837 onwards.

in Protest and the politics of space and place, 1789–1848
Katrina Navickas

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.

in Protest and the politics of space and place, 1789–1848