Fifth national petition 1851

With Ernest Jones now at its head, the National Charter Association managed a brief flicker of revival in membership during 1850.

The NCA convention held on 31 March 1851 adopted a platform of “the Charter and something more”, along with an ambitious work programme, including a further national petition.

But by May 1852, when Jones called a further conference in Manchester, nothing had been done to act on this, and the tiny gathering of just six delegates agreed to repeat the 1849 tactic of separate local petitions based on a common text.

In his History of the Chartist Movement, R G Gammage writes that, when the time came, the Southwark MP Apsley Pellatt agreed to present the petition, “but neither he, nor any other member, could at that time be prevailed on to make a motion on the subject’.

Malcolm Chase (Chartism: A New History) notes that the 20 petitions presented had just 11,834 signatures, “barely a fifth of the disappointing muster in 1849”.