By November 1848, with many of its leading activists in prison, the National Charter Association was in such a state of crisis that a conference ostensibly called to deal with the land company’s affairs now decided to overturn the organisation’s constitution and abolish the paid executive in favour of a voluntary body and paid secretary.
Despite this, and the downbeat mood of most activists, Feargus O’Connor now called for a further attempt to petition Parliament, this time through a series of local petitions based on a centrally agreed text.
In the end, just 19 petitions were presented. Much of the country was unrepresented, and even Feargus O’Connor’s Northern Star (7 July, 1849) failed to report a claimed figure for the number of signatories.
This time, O’Connor’s motion won the backing of just 13 MPs and two tellers. There were just 53,816 signatures to the combined petitions.