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History: ‘Chartism- political or economic movement?’

  • Date Submitted: 04/18/2013 03:03 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 47.5 
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‘Chartism- political or economic movement?’

  * ‘Case for the economic view’
The causation of Chartism from economic perspective deeply characterises and describes the conditions of 19th century, namely low wage, factory discipline, high prices and periodic unemployment. This was widening the gap between the rich and poor and making it very significant at one point. Discontent regarding the situation- exploitation in factories became a major turning point as for example traditional hand workers such as the London silk- weavers were experiencing extreme distress due to competition from machines. The alternatives they were left with were either joining the factory workers or asking for relief from parish (as they could join the workhouse from 1837).
Despite Huskinsson’s reforms of the 1820s and the 1815 Corn Laws the protectionist economy still prevailed. As the Corn Laws depressed domestic markets by keeping food prices artificially high this mirrored the situation regarding employment. On the other side, the foreign markets were also undercut due to further reducing factory output and exports. Other reforms were also essential in taxation; banking and customs as the 1830s period were significantly shaped by bad harvests.
As taxation fell on the working class through indirect taxation the situation got worse. Due to abolishment of income tax in 1816 the situation got completely ‘out of hand’ as at least 16% of real wages were consumed by real taxes, real value of wages was diminished and bad harvests were ‘the last straw’ to series of fiscal crises in 1830s. The Whigs, being in power from 1830 until 1841, made no reforms to banking or currency and their economic strategy left a country with £7million of deficit in 1841. This period is characteristic of the banking crisis as about 63 banks crashed in England, high unemployment and a time of high food prices. Very little money was available for investment despite investment aimed at America in 1837....


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