1839: The Chartist Insurrection

Author(s): David Black, Chris Ford
Release Date: Mar 31, 2012
Publisher: Unkant Publishers
ISBN-10: 095681767X
ISBN-13: 978-0956817679
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Newly published by Unkant, with a foreword by John McDonnell MP, appendices include Julian Harney’s The Tremendous Uprising and Edward Aveling’s memoir, George Julian Harney: A Straggler of 1848. Illustrated throughout.

“… in most histories of the British Labour movement the story of the Chartists has focused on the large-scale mobilisations of petitioners, the development of mass-circulation radical newspapers for working people and the promulgation of the tactic of the general strike, the ‘sacred month’ or ‘big holiday’. The Newport Uprising and other attempts to use physical, as opposed to moral force have been, if not hidden from history, then at least pretty heavily disguised.

With its meticulous attention to detailed sources, its comprehensive scope and its exacting research, this book doesn’t just address the neglect of this important and interesting episode in Labour movement history, but more importantly it also challenges us to think again about the revolutionary potential of the British Labour movement.

Black and Ford evidence in a way others have failed to do the scale of the threat to the British establishment in 1839. Less than two centuries after an unlikely coalition of small landholders, Puritans, Ranters and Diggers had severed the head of an English king, this equally broad new alliance of Free Traders, Republicans, early Trade Unionists, proto-socialists and working people oppressed by poverty and the Poor Law raised again the standard of rebellion.

By challenging the prevailing hegemony relating to the events and significance of 1839, this book assists us greatly in understanding the potential for future challenges to the system.”

John McDonnell MP, Foreword


Dan La Botz, New Politics, June 26, 2013 – PDF

Stephen Roberts, Chartism & the Chartists, October 2012

First Mass Movement in History,” Socialist Standard, No. 1297, September 2012 – PDF

Sharon Borthwick, “The Chartist Insurrection,” Association of Musical Marxists, June 26, 2012 – PDF

James Heartfield, “Seeking Salvation Behind Society’s Back,” The Spiked Review of Books, No. 57, June 2012 – PDF

“In retrieving the suppressed history of the Chartist insurrection, David Black and Chris Ford have written a revolutionary handbook. Without romanticism or condescension, they track the difficulties of unifying local revolts without selling out to the ‘representative politics’ favoured in the parliamentary charade. As today’s anti-capitalism faces the problem of anger without organisation, the lessons of the Chartists become crucial. Dialectics is not something to be derived from pure philosophy: by looking at the political problems of an insurgent working class, Black and Ford resurrect the true One-to-Many dialectic.” 

– Association of Musical Marxists