Women and the Chartist Movement (Commentary)

This commentary is based on the classroom activity: Women and the Chartist Movement

Q1: Use the information in these sources to explain why some people believed that women should have the vote.

A1: The authors of source 3 believed that the problems of the poor were caused "by the Government of the country being in the hands of a few of the upper and middle classes". They argued that the solution to the problem was that all adult men and women should be given the right to vote in elections. R. J. Richardson (source 5) believed that women should have the right to vote "because they contribute to the wealth of the nation by their labour and skill". Elizabeth Pease (source 9) believed that votes for all adults was a "natural right". Anne Knight (source 10) argued that "nations of the earth be well governed until both sexes, as well as all parties, are fully represented, and have an influence, a voice, and a hand in the enactment and administration of the laws".

Q2: Study sources 1 and 4. Compare these two different artist's views on women Chartists.

A2: Source 4 is a realistic drawing of a Chartist meeting. The two women look respectable and dignified. The artist who drew source 1 was attempting to make fun of women Chartists. He has attempted to make her look manic and unfeminine. Unlike source 4, this is a very unsympathetic view of women in the Chartist movement.

Q3: What evidence is there in these sources that women played an active role in the Chartist movement?

A3: Sources 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 all provide information that women were involved in the Chartist movement. Source 1 was obviously a response to women joining the Chartist movement. Source 4 shows women on the platform waiting to speak at a Chartist meeting. Sources 2, 3 and 6 shows that groups of women joined together and issued statements in favour of women being granted the vote. Source 7 is a newspaper report that shows women spoke at Chartist meetings. As source 5 was written by a man it does not provide any evidence that suggests that there were women Chartists.