Chartists looked to America as the land of the free. Though often disappointed by the reality, it offered for some the chance of a better life – and, for others, a place of refuge when their political activities made their home country too dangerous.
Many of those who went to America eventually returned to the UK. Others made their home there. Of this group, a number went on to play a prominent role in the labour and socialist movements, as organisers, propagandists and fighters. Others took up arms in the American civil war. Still others became prominent in wholly unexpected ways – as the founders of industrial dynasties, detective agencies and even music-hall entertainers.
In his book British Chartists in America , (Manchester University Press, 1971), Ray Boston identifies a number of different categories into which those Chartists who headed west can be grouped:
* Physical force Chartists on the run from imminent arrest;
* Those who were “persuaded” to emigrate by secret service funding, thus avoiding a trial;
* Left-wing social democrats who left voluntarily after local pressure;
* Moral force Chartists who disliked O’Connorism and were attracted by the liberal constitutions of new American states such as Iowa and Wisconsin;
* “Tired old men” anxious for a rest from the struggle; and
* “Famous English Chartists” taken up briefly by the American radical press who were little more than tourists.
The book gives a great deal of context for the American exodus, and of what happened to the Chartists who made their way to America. It also mentions some of the sons of prominent Chartists who made a point of mentioning this connection in their writings. The following list is drawn from that book.
Notes on 76 British Chartists (and Chartist children) in America
William Aitken : Born 1814, Dunbar, Scotland, weaver. Moved to Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancs., became schoolmaster and ‘physical force’ Chartist. Contacted by Mormons. Left UK 1842 for Nauvoo, Ill., USA, where there was a community of Icarian or Cabetite communists as well as Mormons. Left for home after violence broke out in community. Author of A Journey up the Mississippi River from the north to Nauvoo, city of Latter Day Saints (Ashton, 1845). Elected Grand Master of Oddfellows in Lancs. 1846. Believed to have been a paid agent of Southern Confederacy during Civil War. Died (suicide?) in Ashton, 1869.
John Alexander : Born 1808, Mauchline, Ayrshire, Scotland, a joiner by trade; moved to London in 1830s. O’Brienite Chartist and close personal friend of O’Brien. Left UK in 1848 ‘with a whole shipload of Chartists’, for Houston, Texas, hoping to found a Cabetite communist community. Member, with John Ellis, of North Texas Colonization Company. Wrote commissioned letters for O’Brien’s newspaper, The Reformer , May 1849. Returned to England. ‘disgusted’. in 1849. Believed to have died in 1872. (Shepperson.)
William Ashton : Born 1806, Silkstone, nr. Barnsley, Yorks. Linen weaver. Transported to Australia in 1830. Liberated 1838 (fare home paid by Barnsley weavers) became prominent Barnsley Chartist (‘physical force’) leader; friend of Peter Bussey, George White and O’Connor … until the Newport rising when he quarrelled violently with O’Connor. Arrested and charged with conspiracy, York Assizes, July 1840. Left UK 1842. Lived near Bussey in New York City. Died in Yorks. ?
James Astin : Born 1806, Padiham, Burnley, Lancs., millworker. ‘Very active’ Chartist, ‘physical force’, arrested twice before he was forced to leave UK ‘in a hurry’, 1848. Went to work in cotton mill in Fall River, Mass. Oddfellows paid the fares for his wife and family to follow him there. Believed to have returned home in 1850s.
Jonathan Bairstow : Born 1822, Leicester (?), handloom weaver and Chartist lecturer in Leicester, 1841-46. According to Garnmage (p. 402) he left UK in 1853 with Peter M. McDouall for New York. But according to Harney, he was drowned in The President shipwreck off the coast of Australia, 1853.
Joseph Barker : Born 1806 Wortley, nr. Leeds, Yorks. Wool-spinner and Methodist preacher. ‘Moral force’ Chartist, Temperance Movt. Abolitionist. Author of The People (Wortley, 1848-69) and The Liberators (Wortley, 1852-53). Left UK for Boston, Mass., and Omaha, Nebraska, 1951, to join farmer-brother. In the US 1851-60, and again 1865 to his death in 1875 in Nebraska.
John Bates : Born 1809 in Yorks., coal miner and Chartist. Left UK in 1848 for New York, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Founder in 1848/49, ‘on Chartist principles’, of first mine union in America.
Robert Bower : Born 1807 in Lancs. Weaver and ‘physical force’ Chartist. Left UK 1848 for Lawrence, Mass. Became ‘most important labour leader in Lawrence’ up to and just after Civil War (Foner).
John Francis Bray : Born 1809 Washington, DC, of English parents. Went with father to Leeds, Yorks., at age of 13. Became a printer. Trade union organizer in Leeds, 1829. ‘Moral force’ Chartist. Author Labour’s Wrongs (1838); A Voyage from Utopia (1839); American Destiny (1864); God and Man, a Unity (1879). Visited France, 1842. Left UK for Boston, Mass., 1842, to join brother. Married and went to farm in Pontiac, Michigan. Printer and trade unionist in Detroit, Mich., till his death in 1897. Described after his death as ‘the Grand Old Man of American Socialism’.
William Brown : Born 1801 Leeds, Yorks., cloth finisher and ‘physical force’ Chartist. Left UK 1841 for New York City and Cleveland, Ohio. Author of America: Four Years’ Residence in the US & Canada (Leeds, 1849). Criticized all things American, especially education. Met Bussey ‘down on his luck’ in New York, just before he returned home.
William S. Brown : Born 1812, Glasgow; printer/preacher. ‘Moral force’ secretary of Glasgow Charter Assoc. Left UK 1850 for Boston, Mass. ‘Returned home to die’, 1875 (?).
James Dawson Burn : Born 1806 Glasgow. Weaver and ‘physical force’ Chartist. Grand Master of Oddfellows. Moved to London in 1850s Author of The Autobiography of a Beggar Boy (London, 1855). Left UK for New York City and Newark, NJ, 1862. Feted by press ‘and then left to starve’. Worked in Federal munitions factory: wrote Three Years among the Working Classes in the US during the War (London, 1865). Returned to London. Wrote a novel, The Beggar Boy (London, 1882).
Peter Bussey : Born Bedale Yorks., 1805, Weaver/publican, Bradford, Yorks., ‘physical force’ member of 1839 Chartist Convention. Left UK 1839, ‘in a hurry’, after abortive Newport rising in which he was implicated, for New York City and Fall River, Mass. Ran a Chartist boarding house in New York Tried farming and failed. Tried newspaper editing and failed. Barrow boy in New York, according to William Brown. Returned home in 1854 ‘a Tory’. Died 1869.
William Butterworth : Born 1808 Oldham Lancs., weaver and ‘well known Chartist in Lancashire and Yorkshire’. ‘Physical force’; in Liverpool prison, 1840-41, for ‘promoting rebellion’; left UK 1842. Stayed with Bussey for a time. Returned home.
John Campbell : Born 1810 in Ireland; weaver in Manchester, 1840. ‘Physical force’ Chartist; Secretary, National Chartist Association, 1841. Protege of Abel Heywood with whom he lived briefly in Manchester and thus learned about radical book publishing; left UK ‘hurriedly’ 1843, for Philadelphia. Secretary/founder of Social Reform Society, 1844. Became prominent in Philadelphia book circles. Author of A Theory of Equality: or the way to make every Man act honestly (Philadelphia, 1848); and Negro-Mania (Philadelphia, 1851). Died in Philadelphia, 1874.
William Carnegie Born 1801, Dunfermline. Scotland (father of Andrew Carnegie); hand-loom weaver, ‘moral force’ Chartist, secretary of local Chartist Association. Close friend of John Fraser. Wrote articles for Cobbett’s Political Register , and letters in Chartist newspaper, The True Scotsman , July 1838. Left UK 1848 ‘on the proceeds from the sale of his four hand-looms’. for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Died 1872.
William Carpenter : Born 1797. London, printer/editor. ‘Unstamped press’ agitator, later a ‘moral force’ Chartist. Editor of The Charter , 1839-40. Left UK for New York in 1850s. Returned home after short stay. ‘with hard luck stories for the London press’. Died London, 1874.
James Charlton : Born 1820 Newcastle-on-Tyne; miner, later engineer/ mechanic. Social Democrat member of Northern Political Union; ‘physical force’ Chartist; close friend of Thomas Devyr, Holyoake and Harney. Left UK 1855 for Chicago, Ill. Manager of Chicago-Alton Railroad in 1870 (secured free rail pass for Holyoake when H. stayed with him in Chicago in 1880s). Revealed his Chartist past to Trumbull after Haymarket Riots of 1886, and made contribution to Amnesty Association. Still alive in 1897 when he wrote two letters to Mrs Theophilia Campbell, daughter of Richard Carlile, about his friendship with Holyoake. (See R. Carlile Coll., Huntington Lib., San Marino, California.)
George(?) Chatterton : Born 1804, Sheffield; nailmaker; ‘physical force’ Chartist; Secretary of the Sheffield Working Men’s Association. Left UK 1839 with Wolstenholme and twelve other men from the local staple trades … to escape arrest’ ( Sheffield Mercury , 5 Oct. 1839) to join other Sheffield workers in Westport, Conn. Believed to have returned home in 1850s
John C Cluer : Born 1806, Glasgow, weaver, ‘forceful local Chartist leader’. Left UK 1839 for New York City and Lowell, Mass. Became member of the National Reform Movement, and a prime mover in the New York Ten Hours Movement. Died 1886. Boston, Mass.
William Dealtry : Born 1817, Bristol; cabinet maker; Chartist (?). Left UK 1847 for Albany, NY, and Cincinnati, Ohio. Author of Money: Its History, Evils and Remedy (Albany, 1858) and, The Laborer: A Remedy for his Wrongs (Cincinnati, 1869)
John Deegan : Born ? Ireland, a weaver in Hyde and Glossop area; Chartist representative for Hyde at first convention. A ‘physical force’ man, he was ‘tried’ by fellow Chartists for speaking against Northern Star policy (ie against O’Connor). Left UK 1841 for Boston, Mass.
William Denton : Born 1823, Bristol; a weaver and later a Chartist lecturer in London. Wrote articles on phrenology. Left UK 1842 for New York City where he became a prominent anti-slavery agitator. Later converted to spiritualism. Visited Australia 1883 and died there.
Thomas Ainge Devyr : Born 1805, Donegal, Ireland, pedlar, author, Our Natural Rights (Belfast, 1836; republished New York, 1842); went to London and became a special constable while trying to be a journalist; Assistant Editor, Northern Liberator , 1839-40 Newcastle-on Tyne; Corresponding Secretary of Northern Political Union; organizer of an armed band of Chartist guerillas which almost went into action. Left UK, a ‘wanted man’, 1840, for New York City. Given editorship of a Democrat newspaper in Williamsburg, NY. Sacked after criticizing the party line. Became organizer, Anti-Rent Party, in Upstate New York; also member of the National Reform Party in NY. Moved to Brooklyn. Edited a Fenian newspaper, The Irish People , from 1865-66. Articles in Northern Star, New York Tribune and Irish World ; author of The Odd Book, or Chivalry in Modern Days (New York, 1882). Died 1887, Brooklyn, NY.
James Dillon : Born 1824, Stockport, Cheshire. Shoemaker and Chartist (?). Left UK 1845 for Lynn, Mass. Vice-President, Lynn Mechanics’ Association, 1859. (Yearley.)
Abram Duncan : Born 1798, Glasgow. Woodturner and trade union spokesman. Chartist pastor in Arbroath. Left UK 1848 for Boston, Mass. Returned home after prolonged musical tour of Eastern cities. (He and his daughter had a popular music-hall act.)
John Fraser : Born 1794, Johnstone, nr. Glasgow. Schoolmaster/ journalist. Founded Edinburgh Radical Association, 1836; member Edinburgh Technical Association, advocate of Hygeism, reported trial of Glasgow Cotton Spinners for Northern Star (Jan. 1838); editor, The True Scotsman , a Scottish Chartist paper. Left UK 1848 for Boston, Mass. Believed to have returned home in 1870. Died 1879.
George Julian Harney : Born 1817, Deptford, London. Cabin boy, pot boy, shop boy in Hetherington’s shop, Chartist lecturer, leading national figure, and journalist. Social Democrat Chartist. Editor, Democratic Review (1849-50). Moved to jersey. Left UK 1863 for Boston, Mass. Returned home 1888. Wrote regular column for Newcastle Chronicle till his death. 1897.
John Hinchcliffe : Born 1822, Bradford, Yorks. Tailor and active Chartist, says he knew Bussey and White ‘well’; left UK 1847 for New York, then to Philadelphia, and then to St. Louis where he became a miners’ lawyer. Settled in Belleville, Ill., 1860. Edited Weekly Miner ; he joined American Miners’ Association, 1860 ‘even though not a miner’. Died St. Louis, 1878.
Robert Hinchcliffe : Born Bradford, 1817 brother of John and later associate of Robert Bower. Weaver and Chartist; left UK 1847 for Boston and Lawrence, Mass. Edited a workingmen’s journal in Lawrence, on behalf of other Bradford weaver-emigrants.
Richard Hinton : Born 1826, Lancs., weaver and Chartist. Left UK 1848 for Boston, Mass.; radical Republican Abolitionist and associate of John Brown; Colonel in Civil War; became ‘a confirmed Socialist’ after the war and correspondent for Boston Weekly Voice . Author, English Radical Leaders (New York, 1857).
George Jacob Holyoake : Born 1817, Birmingham. Foundry-worker, Chartist lecturer, journalist, Co-operator and Secularist; for writings, see Bibliography; in prison 1841-43, left UK for New York, 1848; met Devyr in company of Horace Greeley; also visited Boston and Chicago on various visits to US after this, each time seeking out ex-Chartists. Intended to write definitive history of Chartism. Died London, 1906
David Johnston : Born 1803, Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland Weaver, then apprentice baker in Edinburgh and Camberwell, London. Married a Soho baker’s daughter and, with her dowry, bought a baker’s shop in Camberwell, South London; elected Overseer of the Poor in St. Giles, Camberwell, 1831, ‘by popular vote’; ‘was a keen (moral force) Chartist until rowdies from Kennington wrecked my shop in 1848’. Left UK 1848 for Chicago, Ill., after labouring work in New York and Philadelphia. Lived and worked in Chicago till 1890, when he died on trip to San Francisco. Author of Autobiographical Reminiscences of an Octogenarian Scotchman (Chicago, 1885).
Charles Keen : Born 1816, East End, London. Dock worker and potman, friend and ‘lieutenant’ of Harney, member of Society of Fraternal Democrats; left UK 1848 for New York City but saw his ‘future out on the western prairies’; seen in Kansas City, may have gone out later to Montana. Wrote letters to Northern Star (Feb. and April 1850).
W.J.Linton : Born 1812, Bloomsbury, London. Engraver (described by Vizetelly, p. 119, vol. I, as ‘the first wood engraver of his epoch … the future friend of Mazzini and other advanced liberals, at a time when to know them even was regarded as a crime’); ‘moral force’ Chartist; retired to Windermere, Westmorland, after 1848. Left UK 1866 for Boston, Mass. Met Harney. Settled in New Hampden, Conn. Went out to Montana briefly to organize British Colony of Republicans (i.e. Mazzinians); made contact with Chicago Amnesty Association in 1887 through his American pupil, Walter Crane. Died in US 1898. Author, Three Score Years and Ten (New York, 1894).
Thomas Lloyd : Born 1824 in Staffordshire. Miner; emigrated to US 1860 ‘formerly a very active Chartist’; went straight out to Illinois and active in labour movement, in and around mining town of Belleville, where he died in 1896. Friend and associate of Daniel Weaver.
Robert Lowery : Born 1805, Newcastle-on-Tyne; tailor; leading Chartist (‘moral force’) in Newcastle, Temperance leader; member of Northern Political Union; left UK to join daughter and her Chartist husband, 1862, worked for a time in New York and Boston, Mass. Died Canada, 1861.
Peter Murray McDouall : Born 1814, Newton Stewart, Scotland Moved to Ashton-u-Lyne, Lancs., at an early age; ‘Doctor’/surgeon, Chartist lecturer and journalist (regular correspondent for Northern Star ); several mysterious departures from Ashton when ‘wanted’; visited France in 1 840s returned, stood trial, imprisoned. Chartist collection made for him when found starving in Ashton in 1850; said by Gammage to have gone to US with Bairstow in 1853 but more probably went only to Australia; believed drowned in The President shipwreck off coast of Australia, 1853 (Harney, Newcastle Chronicle .)
Robert MacFarlane : Born 1801 Glasgow. Dyer, knew Allan Pinkerton ‘when he was on our side’, possibly a Chartist, left UK 1842 for New York, worked in Buffalo and Albany. Founded Mechanics’ Mutual Protection Society in Albany, 1845, which lasted till 1848. Died in Brooklyn, 1865. (Yearley and Foner.)
James MacPherson Born 1817, Dundee, Scotland, flax dresser. Scottish delegate to Chartist Convention, 1842; left UK 1848, settled in Springdale, Wisconsin; became Postmaster, JP, attorney. Died in Wisconsin.
James Mann : Born 1812, Huddersfield, Yorks., weaver and ‘moral force’ Chartist, described as ‘co-operative pioneer’; first chairman of Hebden Bridge ‘American Society’; left UK for US, 1846, believed bound for Iowa/Wisconsin.
John Mason : Born 1809 Newcastle-on-Tyne; printer and chairman, Northern Political Union. Good friend of Devyr, Newcastle and Lowery. Left UK for New York, 1842.
Richard Mellor : Born 1801, Stockport, Cheshire; weaver and ‘Chartist who had to leave England in a hurry’, 1839. Ran a boarding house in Galveston, Texas, ‘which housed many men on the run, including Englishmen, before they headed out West’. (Michael Brook& Shepperson.)
John Mitchell : Born 1810 Dundee. Weaver, founder member of Dundee Democratic Society, believed to have written Chartist poetry, friend of poet William Thom, and leader of the Chartist ‘army’ march on Forfar; left UK 1842, a ‘wanted’ man, bound for New York.
Thomas Mitchell : Born 1809 Huddersfield, Yorks., weaver, friend of James Mann and member of Hebden Bridge Chartist American Society; founder of Bacup Co-op, 1845; left UK 1846, believed bound for Iowa/Wisconsin.
Allan Pinkerton : Born 1819 Glasgow. Son of a policeman (?), powerloom dresser and ‘physical force’ Chartist, founder of Glasgow Democratic Club (an O’Connorite club); left UK ‘in a hurry’, 1842, went to Rockford, Ill., then Chicago. Visited by Pitkeithly in Chicago, Aug. 1842; helped farmers reclaim ‘lost’ cattle; started detective agency which later became famous. Author, The Molly Maguires and the Detectives (New York, 1877). Died, 1884.
Lawrence Pitkeithly : Born 1801 Huddersfield. Yorks., weaver, ‘physical force’ Chartist following his work in Ten Hours Movement, delegate to National Chartist Association meeting in Manchester. July 1840. Wrote to Dr. John Smyles (relative of Samuel Smiles), a former English Radical resident in Rochester, NY, about prospects in America; left UK 1842 for New York, contacted Bussey (and Devyr?) and SmyIes, moved on to Milwaukee, Wis., and met Pinkerton m Chicago, Ill. Wrote articles on his trip in Northern Star , returned home, 1843; died Manchester, 1858.
Thomas Powell : Born 1805, Newtown, Wales; moved to London youth as ironmonger’s assistant, worked for Hetherington and became bookseller himself; Chartist missionary in Wales in 1840s took party of English ‘political’ emigrants to South America (San Salvador) via New York where he worked briefly. Died 1850 in Trinidad. (For possible Chartist influence on constitution of San Salvador, see J.West.)
James Proudfoot : Born 1812, Glasgow grain dealer, friend of O’Connor, president of Glasgow USA, 1838-40, helped to form Glasgow Charter Association, May 1842. Left UK 1844, settled in Boston, Mass.
James T. Pyne .: Born 1804, Newcastle-on-Tyne, picture frame maker. Left UK 1839, first reported in Albany, NY, 1840, as member of National Reform Association and associate of Thomas Devyr and Herefordshire-born George Evans. Devyr refers to him as an old campaigner in the cause. Possibly a Chartist.
John Rees : Born 1810, Newport, Monmouthshire, mason, ‘commonly called jack the Fifer, mason, of Tredegar iron-works’ (according to Wanted poster, dated Newport, Mon., 7 Nov. 1839), left UK 1839 with £100 reward on his head as one of the leaders of the Newport rising. Wrote home from Virginia, 1844, asking for news of his (captured) friend Jones shortly before ‘leaving to join the army of Texas’.
John Rewcastle (or Rucastle) : Born 1806, Newcastle-on-Tyne, druggist’s assistant, prominent ‘physical force’ Chartist after being an anti-Poor Law agitator, knew Lowery and Pitkeithly, close friend of Devyr with whom he fled the UK 1840 for New York. Lived and worked for several years close to Peter Bussey and Ben Worswick.
William Rider : Born 1817, Leeds, Yorks., stuff-weaver, printer’s devil. Secretary, Radical Political Union, author The Demagogue (Leeds, 1834), member of Leeds Working Men’s Association. Arrested and imprisoned. Left UK 1855, stayed at Bussey’s Boarding House (taken over by Ben Worswick) in New York. Returned home ‘after twenty years in America’, according to letter received by Gammage, 1890 (Gammage, P. 414).
Samuel Roberts : Born 1800, Llanbrymair, Montgomery. Congregational preacher and labour agitator, possibly a Chartist, contributed to Y Chronicl a journal in Welsh, 1843, urging land reform and emigration, referred to landowners as thieves, Russian barons and barefaced robbers. Imprisoned. Left UK 1857 for Huntsville, Tennessee; returned to Wales 1867; died 1885.
John Samuel : Born 1817, Swansea, S. Wales; glass-blower and Chartist (according to his friend, G. J. Holyoake). Left UK 1845 for Philadelphia, where he organized glass workers into union, 1857. Co-operative movements his chief concern in 1860s. Died 1909 Philadelphia.
John Siney : Born 1830, Wigan, Lancs., cotton operative and brickmaker. Said later he had been ‘a keen young Chartist’, President, Wigan Brickmakers’ Union, 1851-58; left UK 1863 for New York and St. Clair, Penn. Became first President, Miners’ National Assoc. of the USA, 1873-76. Died 1880.
Joseph Smith : Born 1798, Manchester, weaver, organizer for local group at Peterloo, 1819 Chartist ‘courier’ for Abel Heywood; left UK 1842 for Wissahicken, Pennsylvania, where he was ‘a labour agitator’. (Yearley and Foner.) Died 1878.
Abel Stephenson : Born 1805 Huddersfield, Yorks. Old clothes pedlar ‘with a shop (cellar) in the town where meetings were held’, Chartist who left UK 1839, ‘dissatisfied with new Poor Law bill’, bound for Pittsburgh and Northampton, Mass.
John Stevens : Born 1825, Yeovil, moved to Trowbridge, house painter and decorator. Friend of Rev. Henry Solly, Secretary of Trowbridge National Charter Association, 1844; left UK 1847 bound for Philadelphia; ‘Tales of an old Chartist’ article in Bizarre magazine, signed J. S. could be his. (See Bizarre , Phil., vol. II, P. 355.)
Christopher Tinker : Born 1797, Huddersfield, Yorks., bookseller/ printer. Leading Owenite and later Chartist, author of Crises (Huddersfield, 1833), urged violence against Poor Law Commissioners in Huddersfield, January, 1837; left UK 1842 for Milwaukee, Wisc., settled in Spring Lake, Wisc., where he died, 1844. Visited by Pitkeithly?
Mark Thompson : Born 1801 Newcastle-on-Tyne, Chartist, left UK 1840 for Troy, Penn. G. J. Harney corresponded with him in 1850s and stayed with him when he went to US 1863.
William Thornton : Born Halifax, Yorks., Methodist preacher. Opened Chartist meeting at Peep Green, Whit Monday, 1839; ‘physical force’ friend and associate of O’Connor; left UK 1839, a ‘wanted’ man, for New York.
Richard Trevellick : Born 1830, Scilly Isles, joiner and ship’s carpenter in Southampton. Attended Chartist meetings with his uncle, active trade unionist; left UK 1852 bound for Melbourne, Australia, later went to US, arrived New Orleans, 1856; active in Eight Hours Movement and also in temperance, Brooklyn, 1862, Detroit, 1863; author of Money and Panics (Detroit, 1881), died 1895.
Matthew Mark Trumbull : Born 1826, Westminster, London, moved to Deptford at age of three, bricklayer’s labourer all over London and Home Counties (‘on tramp’). Youthful Chartist, left UK 1846 for Montreal, ‘tramped’ to Boston, Mass., joined US army (Mexico), rose to sergeant, chased from Richmond, Va., for voicing Abolitionism, to Dubuque, Iowa, admitted to Iowa State Bar Association , 1858, pre-war friend of U. S. Grant, joined the army again 1860 rose to Brig.-Gen., wounded in action and semi-invalided, given political office in Iowa by President Grant; moved to Chicago to practice law; author of Articles & Discussions on the Labor Question (Chicago, 1890) with pseudonym, ‘Wheelbarrow’; friend of Sam Fielden before Haymarket Riot, helped organize Amnesty Association afterward., together with his German Socialist friend George Schilling, Henry Demarest Lloyd and Thomas Morgan; assistant editor, The Open Court magazine, 1886 to his death in 1894.
Henry Vincent : Born 1810 Cheltenham. Chartist lecturer in Bristol and South Wales, arrested and imprisoned in Newport, Mon., 1839; very popular, and focal point of Newport Rising; left UK 1866 for New York, Philadelphia and Chicago, on lecture tour; went again 1868-70 Died in London, 1878.
Daniel Weaver : Born 1824 in Staffordshire, coal miner. Chartist, departure from England, 1848, ‘hastened by my political views’; went first to mines in Pennsylvania and then to Belleville, Ill., 1850; friend of Thomas Lloyd, and author of What Might Be Done (1860). Died 1899, in Illinois.
George White : Born 1817, Bradford. Yorks., worked in and around Leeds, first as wool-comber, then as ‘strong-arm’ man for O’Connor. Reporter for Northern Star , though used more as a courier; left UK 1850, reported in Kansas City and California; returned to Leeds in 1860s (See Bradford Observer, 18 Sept. 1869.)
John (or James) Wolstenholme : Born 1804, Dunfields, nr. Sheffield, Yorks., filemaker. Delegate to the first Chartist Convention. Friend of G. Chatterton with whom he left UK, Sept. 1839, ‘for America, with all their tools, to escape arrest’ ( Sheffield Iris , 1 Oct. 1839); reported in Westbury, Conn. Believed to have returned home 1850.
Duncan Wood : Born 1810 London, pedlar/trader. Chartist, left UK 1842 for Boston, Mass., settled in Lawrence, Mass., as an emigrant’s travel agent; prominent in Lawrence labour movement after Civil War.
Benjamin Worswick : Born 1806, Clayton, Manchester; weaver and ‘vigorous Chartist orator’. Associate of Peter Bussey; left UK 1840 for New York where he started a ‘Chartist’ boarding house (jointly with Bussey) in Front Street, ‘close to the starting-point of the steamboats for the Western states’. Returned home in 1860s
Andrew Carr Cameron : Born 1834, Berwick-on-Tweed, son of a Chartist printer; became printer himself, left UK 1854 for Chicago, Ill., where became active in Typographical Union. Editor, Workingman’s Advocate , 1864-80. Delegate to ILU in Basle, Switzerland, 1869. Died 1890 in Chicago, Ill.
Andrew Carnegie : Born 1835, Dunfermline, Scot., son of Chartist William Carnegie; ‘from bobbin-boy to steel magnate via telegraph boy’; left UK 1848 for Pittsburgh, Penn. Author of Triumphant Democracy (New York, 1886), returned to birthplace in 1886, launched a ‘radical’ newspaper in the town (which soon failed) and urged Scots to become Republican. Died 1919.
Samuel Fielden : Born 1847, Todmorden, Lancs., son of Abraham Fielden (1816-86) who was principal spokesman for ‘moral force’ Chartist group in Todmorden. Left UK 1868, worked as labourer in Boston, then to Chicago, Ill., when he had saved enough money to buy horse and cart and become a teamster; active in organizing teamsters’ union; became friend of Albert Parsons, Socialist-Anarchist; and well-known Sunday afternoon stump-orator; arrested after Haymarket Riot, 1886, pardoned (after intervention of Amnesty Association) 1893. Died 1921.
John Jarrett : Born 1843, Ebbw Vale, S. Wales, son of Chartist miner; an ironworker, he left UK 1861 for Duncansville and Harrisburg, Penn. Said he was converted to unionism by ex-Chartist, John Kane, while home in England 1867. Active union leader in Pennsylvania, 1870s.
Thomas J. Morgan : Born 1847, Birmingham, son of a Chartist nailmaker; brassworker, ‘in a place as near hell as one can conveniently get on this earth’, from the age of nine; married 1868 and left UK 1869 for Chicago, Ill.; founder-president, Brassworkers’ Independent Union, 1874; ‘inspired to form an American Labor party’ but dreams frustrated by Samuel Gompers; host (with H. D. Lloyd) to J. Keir Hardie, Aug. 1895. Died 1912. (See T. J. Morgan Papers, Univ. of Illinois.)
Tom Phillips : Born 1833, Rotherham, Yorks., son of a Chartist shoemaker; had a shoemaker’s shop in Sheffield till 1852 when left UK for New York, settled in Philadelphia, formed Union Co-operative Association No. I of Philadelphia, 1862; elected President of Boot and Shoe Workers’ International Union, 1889. Died 1916.
Chartists on America
“The inhabitants of the United States are governed on the principles of Chartism, the consequence of which is that all legislature is bent towards the welfare of the many and not of the few, the interests of the ordinary people are thoroughly discussed and understood, and nothing stands in the way of their advancement.”
20 October 1839
“One Sunday evening [in 1846], I was at a coffeehouse in [John Street] London where the Chartists used to meet and study the Northern Star. The paper for that week contained a copy of the new constitution of Wisconsin, which territory was then making preparations for admission as a State into the American Union. Discussing it, one of the party said. ‘Here is a land where the Charter is already law; where there is plenty of work and good wages for all; whynot go there?’ To me the question sounded logical… Shortly after that I was on board an emigrant ship a-sailing Westward, Ho!”
Matthew Mark Trumbull on his decision to emigrate
“I by no means take your favourable view of the Knights of Labour and similar [American] organisations. In the first place, their puerilities disgust me. Their ‘dignities’ make me feel sea-sick. Vanity and love of notoriety are at the foundation of all these societies and organisations. A lot of fellows want to be Grand this and Grand that: Grand Dictator, Grand Chaplain, Grand Doorkeeper, Grand Pisspot-emptier, Almighty Grand Panjandrum etc etc. A Yankee ‘Sir Knight’ makes me feel that I could — well, not need an emetic! Then my idea of these fellows is that they aim at establishing an Aristocracy of Labour, in fact playing the role of that gang in London who are represented in Parliament by Broadhurst, Howell and Co., well held up by you to scorn.”
George Julian Harney
letter to Frederick Engels,
6 May 1887
“Andrew Jackson was a worthy successor of Jefferson… But has the party itself been true to its principles? Has the party been consistent advocates and defenders of the rights of man? Has it, where it has had the power, destroyed paper money in each state? Has it made the land of the United States free to actual settlers? Has it established free trade? Has it abrogated usury? Has it abolished slavery? Has it prevented monopoly? I ask for proofs. If it has not done these things, and I contend it has not, then it should no longer be styled the Democracy”
John Campbell, A Theory of Equality; or The Way to Make Every Man Act Honestly,