George Julian Harney

George Julian Harney

George Julian Harney, the son of a seaman, was born in Depford on 17th February, 1817. When Harney was eleven he entered the Boy's Naval School at Greenwich. However, instead of pursuing a career in the navy he became a shop-boy for Henry Hetherington, the editor of the Poor Man's Guardian. Harney was imprisoned three time for selling this unstamped newspaper.

This experience radicalized Harney and although he was initially a member of the London Working Man's Association he became impatient with the organisation's failure to make much progress in the efforts to obtain universal suffrage. Harney was influenced by the more militant ideas of William Benbow, James Bronterre O'Brien and Feargus O'Connor.

On 28th January 1839 Harney argued: "We demand Universal Suffrage, because we believe the universal suffrage will bring universal happiness. Time was when every Englishman had a musket in his cottage, and along with it hung a flitch of bacon; now there was no flitch of bacon for there was no musket; let the musket be restored and the flitch of bacon would soon follow. You will get nothing from your tyrants but what you can take, and you can take nothing unless you are properly prepared to do so. In the words of a good man, then, I say 'Arm for peace, arm for liberty, arm for justice, arm for the rights of all, and the tyrants will no longer laugh at your petitions'. Remember that."

In January 1837 Harney became one of the founders of the openly republican East London Democratic Association. Soon afterwards Harney became convinced of William Benbow's theory that a Grand National Holiday (General Strike) would result in a uprising and a change in the political system.

At the Chartist Convention held in the summer of 1839, Harney and William Benbow convinced the delegates to call a Grand National Holiday on 12th August. Feargus O'Connor, argued against the plan but was defeated. Harney and Benbow toured the country in an attempt to persuade workers to join the strike. When Harney and Benbow were both arrested and charged with making seditious speeches, the General Strike was called off. Harney was kept in Warwick Gaol but when he appeared at the Birmingham Assizes the Grand Jury refused to indict him.

Disappointed by the failure of the Grand National Holiday, Harney moved to Ayrshire, Scotland, where he married Mary Cameron. Harney's exile did not last long and the following year he became the Chartist organizer in Sheffield. During the strikes of 1842 Harney was one of the fifty-eight Chartists arrested and tried at Lancaster in March 1843. After his conviction was reversed on appeal, Harney became a journalist for Feargus O'Connor's Northern Star. Two years later he became the editor of the newspaper.

Harney became interested in the international struggle for universal suffrage and helped establish the Fraternal Democrats in September 1845. It was through this organisation that Harney met Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Harney persuaded both men to write articles for the Northern Star. Excited by the Continental Revolutions of 1848, George Julian Harney travelled to Paris in March, 1848 to meet members of the Provisional Government.

Harney was now a socialist and he used the Northern Star to promote this philosophy. Feargus O'Connor disagreed with socialism and he pressurized Harney into resigning as editor of the paper. Harney now formed his own newspaper, the Red Republican. With the help of his friend, Ernest Jones, Harney attempted to use his paper to educate his working class readers about socialism and internationalism. Harney also attempted to convert the trade union movement to socialism.

R. G. Gammage commented: "George Julian Harney's talent was best displayed when he wielded the pen; as a speaker he never came up to the standard of third class orators. The more knowing politicians adjudged him to be a spy, but there was no ground for such a supposition. Many a young man of inflexible honesty has been as foolish in his day as was George Julian Harney. Harney appeared to think that nothing but the most extreme measures were of the slightest value. He was for moving towards the object by the speediest means, and he seldom, if ever, stopped to calculate the cost. It might serve very well for men who wanted a reputation for bravery to deal out high sounding phrases about death, glory, and the like; but no body of men have the right to organise an insurrection in a country, unless fully satisfied that the people are so prepared as to hold victory in their very grasp; and a conviction of such preparedness should be founded on better evidence than their attendance at public meetings, and cheering in the moment of excitement the most violent and inflammatory orator."

In 1850 the Red Republican published the first English translation of The Communist Manifesto. The Red Republican was not a financial success and was closed down in December, 1850. Harney followed it with the Friend of the People (December 1850 - April 1852), Star of Freedom (April 1852 - December 1852) and The Vanguard (January 1853 - March 1853).

After The Vanguard ceased publication Harney moved to Newcastle and worked for Joseph Cowen's newspaper, the Northern Tribune and after travelling to meet French socialists living in exile in Jersey, Harney became editor of the Jersey Independent. Harney's support for the North in the American Civil War upset Joseph Cowen and in November 1862 was forced to resign.

In May 1863 Harney emigrated to the United States. For the next fourteen years he worked as a clerk in the Massachusetts State House. After his retirement he returned to England where he wrote a weekly column for the Newcastle Chronicle.

George Julian Harney died on 9th December, 1897.

George Julian Harney's talent was best displayed when he wielded the pen; as a speaker he never came up to the standard of third class orators. Many a young man of inflexible honesty has been as foolish in his day as was George Julian Harney.

Harney appeared to think that nothing but the most extreme measures were of the slightest value. It might serve very well for men who wanted a reputation for bravery to deal out high sounding phrases about death, glory, and the like; but no body of men have the right to organise an insurrection in a country, unless fully satisfied that the people are so prepared as to hold victory in their very grasp; and a conviction of such preparedness should be founded on better evidence than their attendance at public meetings, and cheering in the moment of excitement the most violent and inflammatory orator.

We demand Universal Suffrage, because we believe the universal suffrage will bring universal happiness. Remember that.

George Julian Harney declared that he had no objection to emigration, providing the right persons were sent away - the idlers and the plunderers. But he strongly objected to the transportation of the industrious classes.


Looking at History

Harney[1], a Chartist and journalist, was born on 17th February 1817 at Deptford, Kent, the son of George Harney, sailor, and his wife. Brought up in poverty, he was educated at dame-schools and by his own reading. In 1828, he entered the Boys’ Naval School, Greenwich, to train as a merchant seaman but the ill health that dogged him throughout his life—he suffered from congenital quinsy and impaired hearing—kept him in the infirmary for much of the time and, after six months as a cabin-boy, he quit in 1831 and became a pot-boy in London. He joined the National Union of the Working Classes, worked as a shop-boy for Hetherington, and completed his education in what he was to describe as the ‘radical school of the ‘thirties’. He served three prison sentences, lastly at Derby for six months in 1836, for selling unstamped papers. His major intellectual influence was Bronterre O’Brien, yet whereas O’Brien was drawn to Robespierre, Harney came to identify with Marat, frequently signing himself, throughout the Chartist years, as L’Ami du Peuple or A Friend of the People. Harney also learned from the group of old Spenceans and in 1837 formed with some of them the East London Democratic Association, which the following year was reorganised as simply the London Democratic Association in opposition to the Working Men’s Association.

One result of this conflict was that in the first Chartist convention, Harney sat not for London but for Norwich, Derby, and Newcastle. It was his opinion, in December 1838, that ‘as the Gallic Convention of 1793 required a Jacobin club to look after it, so will the British Convention of 1839 require the watchful support of the Democratic Association’ but his efforts to swing the convention behind physical force and immediate preparations to take power failed, earning him the censure of other delegates and a reputation among some historians as a mindless hothead. During his extensive travels outside London in 1838𔃇, this still very young man, recognised as the foremost spokesman of the most radical, physical-force Chartism, was permanently admitted to the hearts of the new movement’s rank and file. He was of ‘ruddy complexion, of medium height’, with ‘grey eyes, and a plentiful shock of dark-brown hair’ and Gammage, while criticising him for vanity and vindictiveness, conceded that to ‘those whom he considered his friends no man could be more warmly or devotedly attached’.

In April 1840, the case against Harney for a seditious speech at Birmingham the preceding May was dropped and, equally paradoxically, he failed to be implicated in the conspiracies culminating in and following the Newport rising. After his acquittal, he spent almost a year in Scotland, and in September 1840 married Mary Cameron, of Mauchline, Ayrshire, daughter of a radical weaver. It was a meeting of minds and an immensely happy union, although there were to be no children. On his return to England, he worked as full-time Chartist organiser in Sheffield, and acted as local correspondent for the Northern Star he moved to Leeds in 1843 to become sub-editor, and was formally appointed editor two years later. This was Harney’s finest and most influential period: he was until 1850 the great editor of a great newspaper. Throughout the 1840s, Chartism cohered around the weekly Northern Star and under Harney its unrivalled coverage of domestic working-class affairs was supplemented by an authoritative presentation of international radicalism and revolutionary movements, together with a strong emphasis on literature. Harney himself was a bibliophile and a voracious reader, especially of poetry, above all that of Byron.

The Northern Star moved to London in 1844 and Harney proceeded to build up the Fraternal Democrats, a London society (with country members) of Chartists and European exiles, and his new revolutionary internationalism exercised a much broader appeal, attracting key Chartist militants, than had the sterile Jacobinism of 1838𔃇. His concern with foreign affairs led him to contest Tiverton, Palmerston’s seat, in 1847, dissecting in a two-hour speech on the hustings the policy of the foreign secretary, who responded with what was judged the ‘most lengthy and plain-spoken account of his stewardship ever given to the British public’. In 1843, Engels visited Leeds to meet Harney they became lifelong friends and Engels a contributor to his journals. From 1848, Harney, with Ernest Jones, was instrumental in moving the Chartist left to a socialist position. Still editor of the Northern Star, he brought out his own Democratic Review (1849󈞞) until the inevitable break with O’Connor. He then edited the Red Republican (1850), in which the first English translation of the Communist Manifesto appeared. This became the Friend of the People, absorbed into the Northern Star when Harney acquired it in 1852, but by the end of the year the resulting Star of Freedom had folded. Mary Harney died on 11th February 1853 and in December Julian was obliged to move to Newcastle and compromise by assisting Joseph Cowen with his Northern Tribune (1854-55).

In 1855, Harney left Britain and working-class politics to settle in the Channel Islands where he edited the Jersey Independent (1856󈞪). Here in 1859 he married, secondly, Marie Le Sueur Métivier (née Le Sueur), widow of a prosperous shopkeeper, and acquired a stepson, James (b. 1853). The family emigrated in 1863𔃂 to the United States, where, in Boston, Harney edited briefly his final newspaper, the abolitionist Commonwealth and then spent the remainder of his working life as a clerk in the secretary’s office at the Massachusetts State House. He returned permanently to England in 1888 to live by himself, but nine years later his wife nursed him in his final illness. The last surviving member of the 1839 convention, he died on 9th December 1897 at Richmond, Surrey. He was buried in Richmond cemetery.

[1] Sources: A. R. Schoyen The chartist challenge: a portrait of George Julian Harney, 1958, F. G. Black and R. Métivier Black (eds.), The Harney papers, 1969, M. Hambrick A chartist’s library, 1986 and D. Goodway ‘The Métivier collection and the books of George Julian Harney’, Bulletin of the Society for the Study of Labour History, volume 49 (1984), pages 57󈞨.


Looking at History

In January 1837, George Julian Harney[1] started the East London Democratic Association (ELDA) in opposition to the LWMA. Harney and James Bronterre O’Brien[2] were alienated from the LWMA by its middle-class links, especially with Daniel O’Connell. The ELDA formed around Harney, O’Brien and O’Connor. In January 1837, with help from the veteran Spencean, Allen Davenport[3] and the radical tailor Charles Neesom[4], Harney began the ELDA to appeal to the depressed London trades. Its strength came from Spitalfields silk-weavers and East End dockers, the poor. The ELDA began to promote its moral and political position by disseminating the principles advocated by Thomas Paine. Like the LWMA, the ELDA developed out of the National Union of the Working Class[5].

For a time, relations with the LWMA were amicable, although their social compositions and areas of support were different. The ELDA claimed a membership of over 3,000 at the end of 1838. It had branches in the City, Tower Hamlets and Southwark. They met in public houses. The turning point seems to have been the Glasgow spinners’ strike, over which the Northern Star sided with the ELDA against O’Connell and the LWMA. O’Brien and Harney were physical force men who distrusted Place and the classical economists who appeared hostile to trades associations.

George Julian Harney was born in 1817, a cabin boy turned potboy. He was brought up in poverty. He was a bitter man with a desire for knowledge as a means of progress, thus he was involved with Hetherington and the unstamped press. He dressed like Marat[6] his views were extreme republican he was a militant ‘socialist’, almost a Jacobin. He said of the ELDA, “The Jacobin Club again lives and flourishes”. Harney advocated a revolution: “Your whole system requires revolution . your commercial system requires revolution and nothing short of actual convulsion will effect a cure. Establish the Peoples’ Charter tomorrow, and the working man will not have one difficulty the less to contend with”.

He was certainly a pre-Marxist, internationally minded and wanted to create an international workers’ union. He was a friend of Engels. He organised Chartism in Sheffield, undertook lecture tours, and effectively was editor of the Northern Star between 1843 and 1850. He saw radicalism as a class struggle. In 1845 he founded the Fraternal Democrats, a European organisation. He also developed close ties between the LDA and Polish refugees.

James Bronterre O’Brien read for the Bar at Trinity College, Dublin. He was much influenced by Rousseau, Babeuf and Robespierre[7]. He reported for the Northern Star from London. With Harney and Ernest Jones, O’Brien sought an intellectual foundation for Chartism as a class struggle. He greatly influenced Harney, who was not born at the time of the French Wars and who was only fifteen in 1832 when the Reform Act Crisis was taking place.

In April 1838, the ELDA was reconstituted as the London Democratic Association (LDA) with an eight-point resolution covering the Charter and more. The LDA demanded the six points of the Charter as a right and the association attracted all kinds of people. It allied with the northern Chartists because the members of the LDA had little in common with the LWMA. There was thus a division in London Chartism because the aims, tactics and memberships of the LWMA and LDA were very different[8].

[1] A.R. Schoyen The Chartist Challenge: a Portrait of George Julian Harney, London, 1958 remains the best biography. Joseph O. Baylen and Norbert J. Grossman (eds.) Biographical Dictionary of Modern British Radicals since 1770, volume 2: 1830-1870, Brighton, 1984, pages 227-233 is a useful, brief biography.

[2] Alfred Plummer Bronterre: A Political Biography of Bronterre O’ Brien 1804-1864, London, 1971 is the standard work on this enigmatic figure. Joseph O. Baylen and Norbert J. Grossman (eds.) Biographical Dictionary of Modern British Radicals since 1770, volume 2: 1830-1870, Brighton, 1984, pages 375-383.

[3] On Allan Davenport (1775-1846), see Joseph O. Baylen and Norbert J. Grossman (eds.) Biographical Dictionary of Modern British Radicals since 1770, volume 1: 1770-1830, Brighton, 1979, pages 111-113.

[4] For Charles Neesom (1785-1861), see Joseph O. Baylen and Norbert J. Grossman (eds.) Biographical Dictionary of Modern British Radicals since 1770, volume 2: 1830-1870, Brighton, 1984, pages 367-369.

[5] Jennifer Bennett ‘The London Democratic Association 1837-41: a Study in London Radicalism’, in James Epstein and Dorothy Thompson (eds.) The Chartist Experience, Macmillan, 1982, pages 87-119 is the best study.

[6] Marat was an important leader during the French Revolution. He was assassinated by Charlottle Corday in 1793.

[7] Gwynne Lewis ‘Robespierre through the Chartist looking-glass’, in Colin Haydon and William Doyle (eds.) Robespierre, Cambridge University Press, 1999, pages 194-211 examines O’Brien and Robespierre in detail.

[8] David Large ‘London in the Year of Revolutions, 1848’, in John Stevenson (ed.) London in the Age of Reform, Blackwell, 1977, pages 177-211 assesses the strength of metropolitan Chartism and the responses of the authorities throughout 1848.


Staff Profile

My most recent publications include a study of NE Co-operative politics in Keith Laybourn and John Shepherd (eds) Labour and Working Class Lives (MUP 2017), a study of the Irish diasporic press in Laurence Marley (ed.) The British Labour Party and Twentieth-Century Ireland (MUP, 2015) and a study of Mazzini and print culture in Nick Carter (ed.) Britain, Ireland and the Risorgimento (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

In 2013 I published an article on George Julian Harney and the Democratic Review in a special issue of Labour History Review which I co-edited with Owen R Ashton: Radicals, Chartists, and Internationalism, 78.1 (2013).

Thus far, I have contributed 13 entries to Laurel Brake and Marysa Demoor (eds) Dictionary of Nineteenth Century Journalism (British Library, 2010), including two new entries: 'The North East Press' and the Catholic Herald (see http://c19index.chadwyck.com/marketing/aboutdncj.jsp)

Current Research

I am a contributor to the forthcoming Edinburgh History of the British and Irish Press, Vol II, The Nineteenth Century. I am currently completing my study of the Irish Catholic press in Britain and America (1870 -1934).

Postgraduate Supervision

I welcome proposals from postgraduates who are interested in any aspect of Victorian society and politics, from a national or a regional perspective.I would be particularly interested in projects which focus on the history of the popular press or the Irish in Britain.

PhD 2016 David Lowther (AHRC-funded) for his work on the early 19th century Species Debate. David has recently taken up a Leverhulme Postdoctoral Fellowship at Durham University Terry Hurst was awarded his MLitt (with Merit) for his study of North-east Methodism.

MPhil 2014 Tanju Sen, for her thesis on Women in 19th Century Bengal

MLitt (with Distinction) 2012 David Lowther (AHRC-funded) for his work on the artist John Gould

PhD 2011 Marcella Sutcliffe, for her study of British radicals and Italian nationalists. Marcella's monograph, Victorian Radicals and Italian Democrats, was published in 2014 by Boydell and Brewer ( RHS Studies in History)

PhD 2009 Fred Milton (AHRC-funded) for his work on Children's columns in the 19th Century Press

My current postgraduate students are:

Victor Harlow, NDDTC-funded PhD 2016- 'Educational provision in the 1870s', co-supervised with Professor Pauline Dixon

Ayshah Johnson, CDA-funded PhD, 2015-, 'Poor Relief in Britain and the Caribbean', a collaboration between Professor Diana Paton (Edinburgh University) and the National Archives

Bridget Harrison, PhD AHRC-funded (Queens UB) 2015- 'Women Religious in Nineteenth-century Britain and Ireland'

Guy Hinton, PhD 2015- 'War memorialisation in Britain with special reference to the NE of England, 1850-1910'.

Susan Beaumont, PhD (PT) 2010- Women and Business in Newcastle upon Tyne in the early-19th Century

Esteem Indicators

Assessor, Australian Research Council 2014-

Director of Research, Centre for Nineteenth Century Studies

Vice Chair, Society for the Study of Labour History, 2008-2011

Editor, Labour History Review, 2007-2011

Editorial Advisory Board Member, Northern History, 2006-

Editorial Advisory Board, Cogent, 2014-

Executive Member, Society for the Study of Labour History 1994-

Executive Member, NPHFI (Newspaper and Periodical Forum of Ireland)

Director, North East England Historical Institute [NEEHI] 2009-2015

PG Director, NEEHI, 2001-2006

Undergraduate Teaching

HIS1044 Aspects of British History

HIS 3080 Victorian Society, 1832-1884
HIS 3079 Popular Politics and Reform, 1811-1850
HIS 2037 Progress and Plenty? British History 1815-1914
HIS 2112 Outsiders: Minorities in Modern Europe, 1600-2010
HIS 3000 Reading History [Module Leader]
HIS 3020 Writing History (Dissertation)


George Julian Harney - History

In January 1837, George Julian Harney[1] started the East London Democratic Association (ELDA) in opposition to the LWMA. Harney and James Bronterre O’Brien[2] were alienated from the LWMA by its middle-class links, especially with Daniel O’Connell. The ELDA formed around Harney, O’Brien and O’Connor. In January 1837, with help from the veteran Spencean, Allen Davenport[3] and the radical tailor Charles Neesom[4], Harney began the ELDA to appeal to the depressed London trades. Its strength came from Spitalfields silk-weavers and East End dockers, the poor. The ELDA began to promote its moral and political position by disseminating the principles advocated by Thomas Paine. Like the LWMA, the ELDA developed out of the National Union of the Working Class[5].

For a time, relations with the LWMA were amicable, although their social compositions and areas of support were different. The ELDA claimed a membership of over 3,000 at the end of 1838. It had branches in the City, Tower Hamlets and Southwark. They met in public houses. The turning point seems to have been the Glasgow spinners’ strike, over which the Northern Star sided with the ELDA against O’Connell and the LWMA. O’Brien and Harney were physical force men who distrusted Place and the classical economists who appeared hostile to trades associations.

George Julian Harney was born in 1817, a cabin boy turned potboy. He was brought up in poverty. He was a bitter man with a desire for knowledge as a means of progress, thus he was involved with Hetherington and the unstamped press. He dressed like Marat[6] his views were extreme republican he was a militant ‘socialist’, almost a Jacobin. He said of the ELDA, “The Jacobin Club again lives and flourishes”. Harney advocated a revolution: “Your whole system requires revolution … your commercial system requires revolution and nothing short of actual convulsion will effect a cure. Establish the Peoples’ Charter tomorrow, and the working man will not have one difficulty the less to contend with”.

He was certainly a pre-Marxist, internationally minded and wanted to create an international workers’ union. He was a friend of Engels. He organised Chartism in Sheffield, undertook lecture tours, and effectively was editor of the Northern Star between 1843 and 1850. He saw radicalism as a class struggle. In 1845 he founded the Fraternal Democrats, a European organisation. He also developed close ties between the LDA and Polish refugees.

James Bronterre O’Brien read for the Bar at Trinity College, Dublin. He was much influenced by Rousseau, Babeuf and Robespierre[7]. He reported for the Northern Star from London. With Harney and Ernest Jones, O’Brien sought an intellectual foundation for Chartism as a class struggle. He greatly influenced Harney, who was not born at the time of the French Wars and who was only fifteen in 1832 when the Reform Act Crisis was taking place.

In April 1838, the ELDA was reconstituted as the London Democratic Association (LDA) with an eight-point resolution covering the Charter and more. The LDA demanded the six points of the Charter as a right and the association attracted all kinds of people. It allied with the northern Chartists because the members of the LDA had little in common with the LWMA. There was thus a division in London Chartism because the aims, tactics and memberships of the LWMA and LDA were very different[8].

[1] A.R. Schoyen The Chartist Challenge: a Portrait of George Julian Harney, London, 1958 remains the best biography. Joseph O. Baylen and Norbert J. Grossman (eds.) Biographical Dictionary of Modern British Radicals since 1770, volume 2: 1830-1870, Brighton, 1984, pages 227-233 is a useful, brief biography.

[2] Alfred Plummer Bronterre: A Political Biography of Bronterre O’ Brien 1804-1864, London, 1971 is the standard work on this enigmatic figure. Joseph O. Baylen and Norbert J. Grossman (eds.) Biographical Dictionary of Modern British Radicals since 1770, volume 2: 1830-1870, Brighton, 1984, pages 375-383.

[3] On Allan Davenport (1775-1846), see Joseph O. Baylen and Norbert J. Grossman (eds.) Biographical Dictionary of Modern British Radicals since 1770, volume 1: 1770-1830, Brighton, 1979, pages 111-113.

[4] For Charles Neesom (1785-1861), see Joseph O. Baylen and Norbert J. Grossman (eds.) Biographical Dictionary of Modern British Radicals since 1770, volume 2: 1830-1870, Brighton, 1984, pages 367-369.

[5] Jennifer Bennett ‘The London Democratic Association 1837-41: a Study in London Radicalism’, in James Epstein and Dorothy Thompson (eds.) The Chartist Experience, Macmillan, 1982, pages 87-119 is the best study.

[6] Marat was an important leader during the French Revolution. He was assassinated by Charlottle Corday in 1793.

[7] Gwynne Lewis ‘Robespierre through the Chartist looking-glass’, in Colin Haydon and William Doyle (eds.) Robespierre, Cambridge University Press, 1999, pages 194-211 examines O’Brien and Robespierre in detail.

[8] David Large ‘London in the Year of Revolutions, 1848’, in John Stevenson (ed.) London in the Age of Reform, Blackwell, 1977, pages 177-211 assesses the strength of metropolitan Chartism and the responses of the authorities throughout 1848.


Chartist Ancestors Blog

/>George Julian Harney was among the most important of the Chartist leaders. Almost uniquely, he was active throughout the movement’s history, having been a radical long before the Charter was published and living on, his political interests undiminished, until near to the end of the 19th century.


Now, in George Julian Harney: The Chartists Were Right, David Goodway has given us access to his thoughts as he looked back on a long life of political involvement through the careful selection and editing of his columns for the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle, a series he continued writing from 1890 to 1897, not long before his death at the age of 81, the last surviving delegate to the first Chartist convention.

Born in 1817, Harney had started his political life as a shop boy to Henry Hetherington, then publisher of the Poor Man’s Guardian, cutting his teeth in the campaigns against the “taxes on knowledge” of the 1830s and serving two short prison sentences for his trouble.

By the time the Charter itself was published, his involvement with the ultra-radical East London Democratic Association ensured that he was sidelined by its prime move in the capital, the London Working Men’s Association, meaning he had to sit for Norwich, Derby and Newcastle at the first Chartist Convention.

But it was through his contributions to the Northern Star, first as a correspondent and subsequently as sub-editor and eventually on its relocation to London as editor that Harney became best known.

As Chartism faded after 1848, Harney went on to publish a series of short-lived radical newspapers, each less successful than the last. Following a spell as editor of the Northern Tribune, which he left after falling out with its proprietor Joseph Cowen over his support for the North in the American civil war, Harney moved first to Jersey and in 1863 to the United States.

He eventually retired to London in 1888, from where he contributed weekly to the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle. Harney used his column to share some of his memories of the old days, commenting on the lives of Chartists he had known as he outlived them and dredging up some fascinating trivia – witness his recollection that all the delegates to the first convention had worn top hats, with the exception of the “eccentric” Dr John Taylor.

But by this time the left radicalism of the old days was long gone, or at least modified into a form of Tory radicalism that would have sat rather better with his hero William Cobbett than it did with the emerging labour and socialist movement of the late Victorian era.

Harney retained his enmity towards religion in all its superstitious forms, from Methodism to spiritualism, until his dying day. His tirade against the Theosophists in one column reproduced here is a joy to read.

But over the years his internationalism had become a British imperialism, his memories of old rivalries with the Anti Corn Law League had settled into economic protectionism, and his hostility to the Liberal Party led him into unbending opposition to Irish home rule (let alone independence).

While Harney welcomed the idea of independent working class representation in Parliament, he railed against trade unions and dismissed the newly founded Independent Labour Party, both for the religiosity of some of its leaders and, apparently, on the grounds that there were already enough political parties without founding another. Harney was not a fan of political parties, favouring independence of mind well ahead of the discipline required to get anything done.

More than once in his columns Harney distanced himself from the views he held in his youth, arguing that a man in his 80s could not be held responsible for what he had said in his hot-headed 20s. In fairness, the same argument could be applied in reverse to exonerate the exuberant and forward-thinking young Harney from the reactionary curmudgeon he sometimes appeared to be half a century later.

David Goodway, whose first book was London Chartism 1838-1848, has done a truly excellent job in ploughing through and making readable the best part of a decade’s worth of Harney’s writing, and its publication as number 12 in the Merlin Press Chartist Studies Series continues an invaluable and always readable run of books.

Victorian writers, Harney among them, were all too fond of their classical allusions and rhetorical perorations, often at great length and usually, for a modern reader, to the detriment of the argument they were seeking to make. It is a relief to say that Goodway has pruned a great deal of that away to give us access to some truly fascinating observations and recollections.


Goodway was born in the English Midlands town of Rugby in 1942. He studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. [1] His doctoral thesis was supervised by the renowned historian Eric Hobsbawm and formed the basis of his first book on the history of Chartism in London, London Chartism, an acknowledged classic work on the subject. He has had a long-running interest in the Chartist George Julian Harney and discovered that a considerable portion of Harney's personal library is held at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. [2] [3] He taught at the University of Leeds from 1969 to 2005. [4]

Goodway has had a lifelong engagement with literature and in 1969 was a founder member of the Powys Society, which promotes the appreciation and study particularly of John Cowper Powys. [5] He has edited the correspondence between Powys and the American anarchist Emma Goldman. [6]

He has also written widely about writers in the British left libertarian tradition, such as William Morris, Alex Comfort, Herbert Read, George Orwell, Colin Ward and Maurice Brinton - notably in his book Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow: Left-Libertarian Thought and British Writers from William Morris to Colin Ward. In 2015, he became a member of the Friends of Freedom Press Ltd, [7] which safeguards the interest of the anarchist publisher the Freedom Press. He wrote an appreciation of the anarchist journal Freedom when it stopped regular publication after almost 130 years. [8]

  • London Chartism, 1838–1848 (1982)
  • For Anarchism: History, Theory, and Practice (editor) (1989)
  • Against Power and Death: The Anarchist Articles and Pamphlets of Alex Comfort (editor)(1994)
  • A One-Man Manifesto and Other Writings for Freedom Press by Herbert Read (editor) (1994)
  • Herbert Read Reassessed (editor) (1998)
  • Talking Anarchy (with Colin Ward) (2003, 2nd edition 2014)
  • For Workers' Power: The Selected Writings of Maurice Brinton (editor) (2004, 2nd edition 2020)
  • Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow: Left-Libertarian Thought and British Writers from William Morris to Colin Ward (2006, 2nd edition 2012)
  • The Letters of John Cowper Powys and Emma Goldman (editor) (2007) , The Anarchist Past and Other Essays (editor) (2007)
  • John Cowper Powys, The Art of Forgetting the Unpleasant and Other Essays (editor) (2008) , Damned Fools in Utopia and Other Writings on Anarchism and War Resistance (editor) (2011)
  • The Real History of Chartism: or eight fallacies about the Chartist movement (2013) , The Chartists were Right: selections from the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle, 1890-97 (editor) (2014)
  1. ^"David Goodway autobiographical statement" . Retrieved 7 February 2021 .
  2. ^
  3. Goodway, David (2000). "Harney, George Julian". Dictionary of Labour Biography. 10.
  4. ^
  5. Goodway, David (1984). "The Metivier Collection and the Books of George Julian Harney". Bulletin of the Society for the Study of Labour History. 49.
  6. ^
  7. "David Goodway personal website" . Retrieved 7 February 2021 .
  8. ^
  9. Goodway, David (2020). "The Foundation and Early Years of the Powys Society". Powys Journal. 30.
  10. ^
  11. Goodway (ed), David (2007). The letters of John Cowper Powys and Emma Goldman. Cecil Woolf. CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  12. ^
  13. "Friends of Freedom Press Ltd". Companies House . Retrieved 7 February 2021 .
  14. ^
  15. Goodway, David (2015). "Freedom, 1886-2014: An Appreciation". History Workshop Journal. 79.

This article about a British historian or genealogist is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.


The Story of William Cuffay, Black Chartist

An excerpt from Peter Fryer's Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain on William Cuffay, black tailor and leader of the London Chartists. Reprinted with footnotes by Past Tense in 2005.

Introduction
William Cuffay, a black tailor who lived in London, was one of the leaders and martyrs of the Chartist movement, the first mass political movement of the British working class. His grandfather was an African, sold into slavery on the island of St Kitts, where his father was born a slave. Cuffay was made to suffer for his political beliefs and activities. In 1848, Europe's year of revolutions, he was put on trial for levying war against Queen Victoria. At the age of 61 he was transported for life to Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania), where, after being pardoned in 1856, he spent the rest of his days active in radical causes.

‘A very delicate constitution’
William Cuffay was born in Chatham in 1788. Soon after coming to Britain his father, who had evidently been freed, found work as a cook on a warship. William was brought up in Chatham with his mother and his sister Juliana. As a boy, though 'of a very delicate constitution' - his spine and shin bones were deformed - he 'took a great delight in all manly exercises'. He became a journeyman tailor in his late teens and stayed in that trade all his life. He married three times but left no children.

Though he initially disapproved of the Owenite Grand National Consolidated Trades Union, formed in 1834 on the initiative of the London tailors, and was nearly the last to join the appropriate affiliated lodge, Cuffay came out on strike with his fellow-members in the Tailors' Strike of 1834.1 As a result he was sacked from a job he had held for many years, and found it very hard to get work afterwards. That was what took him into politics. In 1839 he joined the great movement in support of the People's Charter drawn up by the cabinet-maker William Lovett with the help of Francis Place, demanding universal male suffrage, annual parliaments, vote by secret ballot, payment of MPs, abolition of property qualifications for MPs, and equal electoral districts. It was a year when 'magistrates trembled and peaceful citizens felt that they were living on a social volcano' - a year when one noble general wrote to his brother 'It looks as if the falling of an empire was beginning.' Before long Cuffay, the neat, mild-mannered black tailor, 4ft 11in. tall, had emerged as one of the dozen or so most prominent leaders of the Chartist movement in London. Unlike the movement's more celebrated national leaders, these were artisans, for Chartism in the capital was 'a sustained movement which produced its own leaders, stuck to its traditional radicalism yet worked out its own class attitudes'. In the autumn of 1839 Cuffay was helping to set up the Metropolitan Tailors' Charter Association - about 80 joined on the first night - and in 1841 the Westminster Chartists sent him to represent them on the Metropolitan Delegate Council. In February 1842 Cuffay chaired a 'Great Public Meeting of the Tailors', at which a national petition to the Commons was adopted. Later the same year the Metropolitan Delegate Council responded to the arrest of George Julian Harney2 and other national leaders by appointing Cuffay (as president) and three others to serve as an interim executive 'to supply the place of those whom a tyrannic Government has pounced upon'.

From the beginning, the Chartists had been divided over the question of violence broadly speaking, the so-called ‘Moral Force’ wing believed campaigning, pressure & petitions could win political representation for working class people, and the ‘Physical Force’ Chartists felt the government and the ruling classes would not give in to moral pressure, and would use such repressive measures that the workers would have to seize power themselves by force of arms. While the latter group were proved right about the state’s response, their attempts to organise an uprising were disorganised and farcical.


A Physical Force Chartist arming for the fight, as satirised in Punch.

'The Black man and his Party'
For all his mildness of manner, Cuffay was a left-wing, militant George Julian Harney Chartist from the beginning. He was in favour of heckling at meetings of the middle-class Complete Suffrage Movement and Anti-Corn Law League. His militancy earned him recognition in the press of the ruling class. Punch lampooned him savagely and The Times referred to London's Chartists as 'the Black man and his Party'3 as a direct result of this press campaign his wife Mary Ann was sacked from her job as charwoman. In 1844 Cuffay was a member of the Masters and Servants Bill Demonstration Committee, opposing a measure which would have given magistrate's power to imprison a neglectful worker for two months merely on his master's oath. The radical MP Thomas Slingsby Dunscombe was parliamentary opponent of what he called “one of the most us, oppressive, arbitrary, iniquitous, and tyrannical attempts the working classes that had ever been made" and Cuffay was the tailors' delegate at meetings to arrange a soiree for Dunscombe. A strong supporter of Feargus O'Connor's Chartist land scheme - the idea was to take the unemployed out of the slums and give each family two acres of good arable land - Cuffay moved at the Chartists' 1845 National convention “that the Conference now draw up a plan to enable the people to purchase land and place the surplus labourers who subscribe thereto on such land.” In 1846 he was one of London's three delegates to the land conference, and he and another London tailor, James Knight, were appointed auditors to the National Land Company which soon had 600 branches all over the country.4 In the year Cuffay served as one of the National Anti-Militia Association's ten directors and was a member of the Democratic Committee for Poland's Regeneration, of which Ernest Jones,5 friend of Marx and Engels, was president. In 1847 he was on the Central Registration and Election Committee, and in 1848 he was on the management committee for a Metropolitan Democratic Hall.

‘The year of decision’
For Cuffay, as for so many other working people in western Europe, 1848 was 'the year of decision'. He was one of the three London delegates to the Chartists' national convention that met in the April. From the start of the proceedings he made his left-wing position plain. Derby had sent as delegate a sensational journalist and novelist called George Reynolds (he gave his name to the radical magazine that eventually became Reynolds News) and Cuffay challenged the middle-class newcomer, demanding to know if he really was a Chartist. Cuffay also at first opposed the granting of credentials to Charles MacCarthy of the Irish Democratic Federation, but the dispute was settled, and MacCarthy admitted, by a sub-committee of which Cuffay was a member. The convention's main task was to prepare a mass meeting on Kennington Common and a procession that was to accompany the Chartist petition, bearing almost two million signatures, to the Commons. When Reynolds, moved an amendment declaring 'That in the event of the rejection of the Petition, the Convention should declare its sitting permanent, and should declare the Charter the law of the land', Cuffay said he was opposed to a body declaring itself permanent that represented only a fraction of the people: he was elected by only 2,000 out of the two million inhabitants of London, He moved that the convention should confine itself to presenting the petition, and that a national assembly be called - “then come what might, it should declare its sittings permanent and go on, come weal or come woe.” At length the idea of a national assembly was accepted. In a later debate Cuffay told his fellow delegates that “the men of London were up to the mark, and were eager for the fray”. In a speech sharply critical of the national leadership, he declared that the Irish patriots, ('confederates'):

“were also in an advanced state of preparation, and if a spark wore laid to the train in Ireland, they would not wait for Chartists. A deputation from the two bodies met together on Monday night last, and the result was, that the confederates were ready to march in procession with them under the green flag of Erin (cheers). The trades were also coming out,'and amongst the rest the tailors, to which he belonged (a laugh). Well, if they did not get what they wanted before a fortnight, he, for one, was ready to fall and if the petition was rejected with scorn, he would move at once to form a rifle club (cheers) . He did think that their leader Feargus O'Connor was not quite up to the mark, and he suspected one or two more of the executive council strongly, and if he found that his suspicions were correct, he would move to have them turned out of office (laughter and cheers). The country had no right to despair of the men of London . There were only 5,000 soldiers in London.”

When a moderate speech was made, Cuffay burst out: “This clapping of hands is all very fine, but will you fight for it?” There were cries of 'Yes, yes' and cheers.

“The time is now come for work”
Appointed chairman of the committee for managing the procession, Cuffay was responsible for making sure that “everything… necessary for conducting an immense procession with order and regularity had been adopted”, and suggested that stewards wear tricolour sashes and rosettes. Things had now come to a crisis, he said, and they must he prepared to act with coolness and determination. It was clear that the executive had shrunk from their responsibility. They did not show the spirit they ought. He no longer had any confidence in them, and he hoped the convention would be prepared to take the responsibility out of their hands and lead the people themselves. At the final meeting, on the morning of the demonstration, Cuffay opposed endless debate. “The time is now come for work,” he insisted. An observer recorded that, as the convention broke up and delegates took their places on the vehicles, carrying the petition, Cuffay 'appeared perfectly happy and elated' for the first time since the proceedings opened.

The commissioner of police had declared that the proposed procession was illegal. The queen had been packed off to the Isle of Wight for her safety, and the royal carriages and horses and other valuables had been removed from the palace. Tens of thousands of lawyers, shopkeepers, and government clerks had been enrolled as special constables. All government buildings were prepared for attack: at the Foreign Office, the ground-floor windows were blocked with bound volumes of The Times, thought to be thick enough to stop bullets, and the clerks were. issued with brand-new muskets and ball cartridges. The British Museum was provided with 50 muskets and 100 cutlasses. The Bank of England was protected with sandbags. Along the Embankment, 7,000 soldiers were distributed at strategic points. Heavy gun batteries were brought up from Woolwich. The bridges were sealed off and guarded by over 4,000 police. O'Connor was interviewed by the Commissioner of police - who said afterwards that he had never seen a man so frightened - and decided to call off the procession.6

'The very chief of the conspiracy'
When the crowd at Kennington Common heard this, many of them were very angry. There were shouts that the petition should have been carried forward until actively opposed by the troops then withdrawn altogether on the ground that such opposition was unlawful. One of the protesters was Cuffay, who spoke in strong language against the dispersal of the meeting, and contended that it would be time enough to evince their fear of the military when they met them face to face! He believed the whole Convention were a set of cowardly humbugs, and he would have nothing more to do with them, He then left the van, and got among the crowd, where he said that O'Connor must have known all this before, and that he ought to have informed them of it, so that they might have conveyed the petition at once to the House of Commons, without crossing the bridges. They had been completely caught in a trap.

Cuffay was elected as one of the commissioners to campaign for the Charter after its rejection by Parliament… Most of our scanty information about his activities comes from police spies, one of whom was actually a member of the seven-strong 'Ulterior Committee' that was planning an uprising in London. Cuffay was certainly a late, and almost certainly a reluctant, member of this body. On 16 August 1848, 11 'luminaries', allegedly plotting to fire certain buildings as a signal for the rising, were arrested at a Bloomsbury tavern, the Orange Tree, near Red Lion Square. Cuffay was arrested later at his lodgings. He had not been a delegate to the committee for more than 12 days, and had not been elected secretary until 13 August. So he was certainly not, as The Times called him, 'the very chief of the conspiracy'. Indeed it is claimed that, before the police swooped, he had realised that the plan was premature and hopeless but, from solidarity, had refused to back out. He could have gone underground, but he chose not to: he “refused to fly, lest it should be said that he abandoned his associates in the hour of peril.”7


The great Chartist meeting on Kennington Common, 10th of April 1848

“Cuffey,” sneered The Times, “is half a "nigger". Some of the others are Irishmen. We doubt if there are half-a dozen Englishmen in the whole lot.” Cuffay's bearing in court soon wiped the smirk off the face of The Times. He pleaded not guilty in a loud voice and objected to being tried by a middle-class jury. “I demand trial by my peers,” he said, “according to the principles of Magna Charta.” Then the prospective jurors were challenged, and one, asked if he had ever expressed an opinion as to Cuffay's guilt or innocence, or what ought to be the result of the trial, replied: “Yes, I have expressed an opinion that they ought ought to be hanged.” He was told to retire, “and after considerable delay a jury was at length formed.” Though counsel for the boot cleaver Thomas Fay and the bootmaker William Lacey - two Chartists who stood in the dock with Cuffay - said his clients were satisfied, Cuffay made it clear that he himself was not. “I wish it to be understood”, he exclaimed, “that I do object, to this jury. They are not my equals - I am only a journeyman mechanic.”

'A severe sentence, but a most just one’
Cuffay's conviction for levying war on the queen was obtained through the evidence of two police spies. One, Thomas Powell, widely known as 'Lying Tom', said in cross-examination that he had told the Chartists how to make grenades: “I told them that gunpowder must be put into an ink-bottle with an explosive cap, and I dare say I did say that it would be a capital thing to throw among the police if it had some nails in it.” The other spy, George Davis (he wasn’t innocent ok?), a second-hand book and furniture dealer from Greenwich and a member of the Chartist 'Wat Tyler Brigade' there, told how he had attended its meetings and 'reported within two hours all that had occurred at each meeting to the inspector of police. For the past few weeks the people of Greenwich had suspected him of being a spy, and he had lost his trade as a result (Shame!). The Metropolitan Police had paid Powell £1 per week, Davis a lump sum of £150, and had also bought information from at least two other Chartists.

In his defiant final speech, Cuffay denied the court's right to sentence him. He had not been tried by his equals, and the press had tried to smother him with ridicule. He asked neither pity nor mercy, he had expected to be convicted. He pitied the attorney-general - who ought to be called the spymaster-general - for using such base characters to get him convicted. The government could only exist with the support of a regular organised system of police espionage. Cuffay declared his total innocence of the charge: his locality never sent any delegates, and he had nothing to do with the 'luminaries'. He was not anxious for martyrdom, but he felt that he could bear any punishment proudly, even to the scaffold. He was proud to be among the first victims of the Act of Parliament making the new political crime of 'felony' punishable by transportation. Every proposal that was likely to benefit the working classes had been thrown out or set aside in Parliament, but a measure to restrain their liberties had been passed in a few hours.

Cuffay and his two comrades were sentenced to transportation “for the term of your natural lives”. 'A severe sentence, but a most just one,’ commented The Times. The radical press praised the tailor's steadfastness and courage. The Northern Star, most influential of Chartist newspapers, said:

‘The conduct of Cuffay throughout his trial was that of a man. A somewhat singular appearance, certain eccentricities of manner, and a habit of unregulated speech, afforded an opportunity to the 'suckmug' reporters, unprincipled editors, and buffoons of the press to make him the subject of their ridicule. The 'fast men' of the press . did their best to smother their victim beneath the weight of their heavy wit . In a great measure, Cuffay owes his destruction to the Press gang. But his manly and admirable conduct on his trial affords his enemies no opportunity either to sneer at or abuse him . His protest from first to last against the mockery of being tried by a Jury animated by class resentments and party-hatred, showed him to be a much better respecter of 'the constitution' than either the Attorney-General or the judges on the bench. Cuffay's last words should be treasured up by the people.’

‘Banished by a government that feared him’
The author of 'A word in defence of Cuffey' in the Reasoner had this to say:

‘When hundreds of working men elected this man to audit the accounts of their benefit society, they did so in the full belief of his trustworthiness, and he never gave them reason to repent of their choice. Cuffay's sobriety and ever active spirit marked him for a very useful man he cheerfully fulfilled the arduous duties devolved upon him.’

And the Reasoner added: 'He was a clever, industrious, honest, sober and frugal man.' A profile of Cuffay in Reynold's Political Instructor said he was

‘loved by his own order, who knew him and appreciated his virtues, ridiculed and denounced by a press that knew him not, and had no sympathy with his class, and banished by a government that feared him. Whilst integrity in the midst of poverty, whilst honour in the midst of temptation are admired and venerated, so long will the name of William Cuffay, a scion of Affric's oppressed race, be preserved from oblivion.’

After a voyage lasting 103 days on the prison ship Adelaide, Cuffay landed in Tasmania in November 1849. He was permitted to work at his trade for wages -which he did until the last year of his life - and after much delay his wife was allowed to join him in April 1853. Cuffay was unique among veteran Chartists in exile in that he continued his radical activities after his free pardon on 19 May 1856. In particular, he was active in the successful agitation for the amendment of the colony's Masters and Servants Act. He was described as 'a fluent and an effective speaker', who was 'always popular with the working classes' and who 'took a prominent part in election matters, and went in strongly for the individual rights of working men.' At one of his last public appearances he called his working-class audience 'Fellow Slaves' and told them: “I'm old, I'm poor. I'm out of work, I'm in debt, and therefore I have cause to complain.”

In October 1869 Cuffay was admitted to Tasmania's workhouse, the Brickfields invalid depot, in whose sick ward he died in July 1870, aged 82. The workhouse superintendent described him as 'a quiet man, and an inveterate reader. His grave was specially marked 'in case friendly sympathisers should hereafter desire to place a memorial on the spot.'

Cuffay makes fleeting appearances in three mid-nineteenth century works of literature. Thackeray, in The Three Christmas Waits (1848), poked fun at him as 'the bold Cuffee' and a ‘pore old blackymore rogue'. A character in Charles Kingsley's novel Alton Locke, tailor and poet (1850) praises Cuffay's 'earnestness' in the same novel the police spy Powell is described as a 'shameless wretch' and Cuffay is patronisingly called 'the honestest, if not the wisest speaker' at Kennington Common.8 A fuller, more faithful portrait was painted by Cuffay's friend admirer, and fellow-Chartist Thomas Martin Wheeler, whose semi-autobiographical Sunshine and Shadow was serialised in the Northern Star in 1849. Wheeler recalled how, at a Chartist meeting in the early 1840s, he first

‘gazed with unfeigned admiration upon the high intellectual forehead and animated features of this diminutive Son of Africa's despised and injured race. Though the son of a West Indian and the grandson of an African slave, he spoke the English tongue pure and grammatical, and with a degree of ease and facility which would shame many who boast of the purity of their Saxon or Norman descent. Possessed of attainments superior to the majority of working men, he had filled, with honour, the highest offices of his trade society. In the hour of danger no man could be more depended on than William Cuffay - a strict disciplinarian, and a lover of order - he was firm in the discharge of Convicts under guard in Van Diemen’s land (Tasmania), 1831. Cuffay in his cell, by William Dowling his duty, even to obstinacy yet in his social circle no man was more polite, good-humoured, and affable, which caused his company to be much admired and earnestly sought for - honoured and respected by all who knew him . Yes, Cuffay, should these lines ever meet thine eyes in thy far-distant home, yes, my friend, though thou hast fallen - thou hast fallen with the great and noble of the earth . Faint not, mine old companion, the darkness of the present time will but render more intense the glowing light of the future. '


Cuffay in his cell, by William Dowling

Reprinted from “Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain” by Peter Fryer. Republished with notes and illustrations by Past Tense, October 2005.

Past Tense
c/o 56a Info Shop,
56 Crampton St,
London, SE17.

    1834 Tailors strike: the London tailors had a long tradition of organisation and struggle. The 'Knights of the Needle' had an organisation that could be fairly described as 'all but a military system'. But it was weak due to its division into two classes, called Flints and Dungs - “the Flints have upwards of thirty houses of call, and the Dungs about nine or ten the Flints work by day, the Dungs by day or piece. Great animosity formerly existed between them, the Dungs generally working for less wages, but of late years there has not been much difference in the wages… and at some of the latest strikes both parties have usually made common cause.” (Francis Place)

In 1824 Place estimated a proportion of one 'Dung' to three 'Flints' but the 'Dungs' 'work a great many hours, and their families assist them.' The upsurge in tailors union activity, after the repeal of the Combination Acts, led to the founding of a Grand National Union of Tailors in Nov 1832. It was a general union, containing skilled & unskilled tailors and tailoresses. It affiliated to Robert Owen's Grand National Consolidated Trade Union.


Newspaper appointment

Becoming ill in Jersey, Harney stayed to recover and then took a long rest. During this time he apparently decided to remain in the island for a period, rather than return to face an unpromising future in England. When journalistic employment was offered, he was no doubt eager to accept, and on 5 July 1856 he became editor of the Jersey Independent, published by Thomas Thorne, in which Harney had bought a third share. The Independent, which had commenced in August 1855, had been hitherto a rather ponderous and cloudy reforming journal, but its editorials were immediately transformed by Harney's vigorous polemics.

As well as obtaining a regular occupation, his condition as a childless widower was changed when he married a young Jerseywoman, Marie Metivier (nee Le Sueur), widow of a draper. The couple settled down with her son James in comfortable style at Bay Tree House, Ann Street, St. Helier. Thus Harney was fulfilled again in Jersey, finding a congenial post, a new wife, and family life. He assumed the dignity of 'esquire' after his name and enjoyed a degree of material prosperity to which he had not often been accustomed. But at times he probably felt hemmed in. 'I am glad that, on the whole, you like Jersey', he wrote many years later to Friedrich Engels. 'It is a very interesting place to visit, to stay some weeks, or even months but after a time one feels cooped up and longing for at least a wider prison'. Among Harney's concerns in Jersey, his radical international dedication was maintained in the Independent and he associated with the continental refugees in the island. But there were also important local reforms to strive for, and he must have felt that he was helping to sweep out a little augean stables.

It may seem curious that a militant and well known radical like Harney should have found fertile soil for his labours in Jersey. His militancy had been amply displayed in his early Chartist period. His impressive talents, which managed to emerge through self help from poor social origins in Deptford, did not include a natural gravity. He had appeared the reckless young firebrand of the Chartist movement, who waved daggers before an audience, exhorted the workers to 'Arm! arm! arm!', and repelled more cautious colleagues.

'Vanity was one of his prevailing weaknesses', wrote his fellow Chartist R G Gammage. 'In the early part of his political life he aspired to be the Marat of the English revolution. His talent was best displayed when he wielded the pen as a speaker he never came up to the standard of third class orators'. G J Holyoake, another contemporary radical, was more favourable: 'His fervour of speech and his ubiquitous activity made him widely known and popular'.

Harney could swing from extreme to moderate language whenever it seemed appropriate, and his political and social ideas were volatile. He was the pragmatic, unstructured Jacobin, avoiding the ideological conformity to 'scientific socialism' demanded by Marx and Engels, despite the fact that, in his paper The Red Republican, he published the first English translation of the Communist manifesto in November 1850. Marx and Engels became exasperated with Harney for his eclectic radical associations - not least when, in the early 1850s, he abandoned his firm proletarian independence in favour of collaboration with middle class radicals. This was Harney's mellower attitude by the time he reached Jersey, and it probably enabled him to fit more smoothly into his new environment than would have been the case ten or 20 years before.


Friend of the People – into the 1850s

This page recounts the story of George Julian Harney’s short-lived Friend of the People, and reproduces some snippets from its pages. It sets out Harney’s plan to relaunch the paper and lists the members of its general committee.

George Julian Harney’s attempt to publish an explicitly revolutionary journal under the name the Red Republican foundered after less than six months in the second half of 1850.

With booksellers and stationers reluctant to sell it, in part because of its inflammatory title, Harney changed his paper’s name to The Friend of the People. Under this name – reflecting Harney’s long-established pen-name L’ami du Peuple – it ran on for a further 18 months before failing due to lack of support.

Meanwhile, Ernest Jones had emerged from prison to claim his place at the head of the Chartist movement, the left of which under Harney had now split from the increasingly erratic Feargus O’Connor. At first, the alliance of Harney and Jones appeared strong, despite differences over the emerging co-operative movement and other issues.

By April 1851 plans were well in hand for Harney’s paper to be relaunched under the joint editorship of the two men and as a “stamped” publication. A “general committee” consisting of “friends” of the proposed new paper was established, and its prospectus was outlined in the pages of The Friend of the People . Though not explicitly stated, one aim of the paper was to act as a counterbalance and alternative to O’Connor’s Northern Star .

For a number of weeks, further notices and information appeared, indicating that the new paper would appear that June. But the launch date came and went, and by the middle of that month all mention of the project had ceased. In his History of the Chartist Movement 1837-1854 , R G Gammage claimed that fundraising efforts produced just £22 after expenses, and that the project was dropped for that reason.

At the same time, Jones had launched his own publication, Notes to the People , a more thoughtful and theoretical journal than the newspaper that had been envisaged. But it was clear by then that what remained of the Chartist movement was in disarray. A national convention called by the Manchester Chartists, who favoured closer alliance with middle class reformers, was supported by O’Connor but disowned by Harney and Jones, who in turn convened their own London convention.

In due course, however, Jones and Harney were to fall out over the make-up of the National Charter Association’s increasingly powerless executive. Harney withdrew, and Jones first suggested and then executed a coup, establishing his own three-man body in its place.

Chartism was now, in effect, too small and too fragmented to sustain a substantial weekly publication. In one of the final issues of his unstamped paper, Harney admitted that, not only had the publication “never returned one penny for my labour”, but that, “for some time past, the Friend has been published at a loss of from thirty shillings to three pounds weekly”. The final issue of The Friend of the People made its appearance on 26 July 1851.

The prospectus and list of general committee members for the proposed new publication set out below is taken from The Friend of the People for Saturday 14 June 1851.

PROSPECTUS OF A NEW WEEKLY DEMOCRATIC JOURNAL TO BE ENTITLED

FRIEND OF THE PEOPLE

Ideas propounded, discussed, accepted – behold the only enduring foundation on which Revolutions in Government and Society can be securely based. The most glorious struggles to destroy oppression have resulted either in total failure, bitter disappointment or fearful reaction, because the long-suffering millions have lacked the knowledge necessary to enable them to distinguish between preteneded and real reforms – between their true friends and those political charlatans who, masquerading in the guise of liberalism, traffic in the misplaced confidence of the people.

The advocates of Democratic Reform and Social Regeneration, can hope for real and permanent success only through the general adoption of their principles. To expound and propagate those principles, democratic journals must be multiplied. THE PRESS – that great engine of Moral Power – must be employed more effectively than hitherto it has been, to spread aborad the all-saving truths of Democracy. Theories of political and social justice will be transformed into practical realities, the moment the great mass of the people are imbued with a correct knowledge of their rights and are made to comprehend the means by which they may work out their own emancipation.

Impressed with the views indicated, rather than fully set forth, int the foregoing observations, we whose names are hereunto subscribed, have advised JULIAN HARNEY and ERNEST JONES to respond to the many appeals made to them from all parts of the country to combine their energies for the production of a journal calculated to elevate and advance the people’s cause. Having constituted ourselves a Committee to aid them in this enterprise, we have the pleasure of announcing that –
A NEW WEEKLY NEWSPAPER OF LARGE SIZE, TO BE ENTITLED THE
FRIEND OF THE PEOPLE
Edited by Julian Harney and Ernest Jones,
Will be published immediately adequate support is guaranteed by the local committees at present formed, and in the course of formation.

The elaborate details usually set forth in a Prospectus may very well be dispensed with in the present instance. The title of the projected journal has already the significance of a banner and the names of the Editors afford a sure guarantee that its columns will be devoted to the exposition and advocacy of uncompromising Democracy, and the Social Rights of the Millions. Without, therefore, entering into minute particulars, it will be sufficient to state that the FRIEND OF THE PEOPLE will include in its leading features the following:-
I. CHARTIST ORGANISATION AND PROGRESS, under which head will be given a fill and impartial account of all Chartist proceedings, together with original papers elucidating and vindicating the principles of the Charter, on the ground both of right and utility. The substitution of the democratic principle of popular election, in place of hereditary and class usurpation in connection with governmental arrangements will be strenuously advocated.
II. SOCIAL RIGHTS. National proprietorship in the soil will be unceasingly contended for and familiarly popularised. The natural right to labour, and the consequent means of facilitating the exchanges of products, will find THE FRIEND OF THE PEOPLE a ready and fearless advocate.
III. CO-OPERATIVE PROGRESS AND ASSOCIATIVE LABOUR, important phases of the age, will be earnestly advocated. Co-operative and Industrial Associations, Trades Unions &c will find the proposed journal a faithful organ of their principles and proceedings.
IV. EUROPEAN AND AMERICAN DEMOCRACY.–To afford a correct representation of the movements of the Democrats of Continental Europe and America, will be one of the primary objects of the Friend of the People . Original sources of intelligence being at the command of the Editors, they will be enabled to give full and correct information of the aims and struggles of the Republicans, Socialists, Agrarian Reformers, and Communists of Europe and the United States. Lastly it is intended to make the projected journal a medium of intercommunication between the Democratic and Social Reformers of all countries.

Due space will be allotted to LITERATURE and the FINE ARTS. In conjunction with the useful and instructive, the romantic and entertaining will not be lost sight of.

Besides developing the above-mentioned features, the FRIEND OF THE PEOPLE will be a complete news -paper, and will contain reports of the debates in Parliament, Public Meetings, &c, also Legal, Police, Mercantile, and general intelligence.

“Quack Advertisements” and other offensive matter to be found in nearly every existing journal will be rigorously excluded from the columns of the Friend of the People .

It will be the aim of the Editors — in all departments of the projected journal — to elevate Democracy to a standard commensurate with the dignity of its principles. In fine, to produce a journal which will command the support of friends, and the respoect of foes — a journal that every democrat may dare to shew to men of opposing parties and classes, and say:- “This is an organ of our movement, a reflex of our mind, a representative of our principles, the harbinger of our triumphant future.”

From the pages of the Friend of the People

THE CHARTIST CONCERTS
Citizen Editor. — Having attended the concert at John Street, Tottenham Court Road on Tuesday evening last, I beg to state that after the anthem was sung, “Save our Native Land,” there was a loud call by the audience for the “Marseillaise Hymn,” which was not responded to by the choir, for this reason, said R Y Holyoake, the conductor. “It would interfere with politics which we desire to avoid.” Is not that hypocrisy, when the orchestra was decorated with the Red and Tricoloured banners with political devices thereon, and the front of the platform lined with red cloth, typical of the “Democratique et Socialle” flag? The concert itself was a political one, being expressly for the benefit of the Chartist fund. If you attend at the theatres, concerts and other places of amusement in London, you will find the band either commence or conclude by “striking up” “God save the Queen.” Is not that political? Whenever it is encored by the audiences, it is immediately responded to, without consulting the feelings of any democrat who might happen to be present. At Jullien’s concerts, which took place at Drury Lane Theatre some time ago, you would get your HAT SMASHED IN if you did not pull it off the very moment the band began to play the so-called “National Anthem.” And are we then, the Socialists and Red Republicans, to be deprived of our anthem, when called for, because afraid of giving umbrage to a few respectable toadies who might happen to stray into our concerts? I am yours fraternally,
J W Sugg
New-road, London
31 May 1851

EMIGRATION:- THE LAND! THE LAND!!
To the working classes and others. In consequence of the immense success that has attended the societies instituted by Mr D W Ruffey, a few friends have joined with him in a Society for the purpose of Emigration and general Colonisation. They propose to issue 5,000 Shares, of One Pound each deposit, 2s 6d a Share calls 2s 6d per month.
The following eligible investment is now offered: a FREEHOLD ESTATE in Eastern Canada, comprising 20,000 Acreds of Land. within 17 miles of a market town and the Port of St Francis, from which Steamers ply Daily to Montreal and Quebec. The River Medlet, and the River Becaucour, runs through the Estate, and are navigable for boats and floating timber down the St Lawrence. This estate presents as much as 20 miles of frontage to these rivers, with several mill sites &c.
The Land, which is of a fiar average quality abounds with timber, which, on being disposed of, it is considered will more than pay the price required for the land.
The benefit that will accrue to the Shareholder is immense, as the estate may be disposed of at a profit of 50 per cent, others purchased, colonised, and lots retained for the benefit of the Shareholders.
For further particulars, description, &c, apply by letter enclosing two postage stamps to D W Ruffey, 13 Tottenham Court Road, New Road, St Pancras, London. No time must be lost, as the first deposit to secure the Estate must be paid in a short time.
12 July 1851

PERSONS VISITING LONDON can be ACCOMMODATED with a BED-ROOM, which may be also used as a Sitting-Room, suitable for a Married Couple or one or two Single Men. The situation is within Five Minutes’ walk of the British Museum, half-an-hour’s walk of the GREAT EXHIBITION, and within a short distance of the principal thoroughfares and public buildings of the Metropolis.
Terms very moderate. For further particulars, apply to Mr Shirrets, 4, Brunswick-row, Queen’s-square, Bloomsbury.
26 July 1851


Watch the video: George Harrison - About Julian Lennon u0026 Drugs.