ABSTRACT

Two days after the proroguing of Parliament in the summer of 1842 without any response to the country’s distress, the Chartists held a public meeting in Stockport, one of the most severely distressed cities. The following placard for that meeting exhibits a sense of self-righteous anger, frustration and even shock that they had been insulted by parliamentary silence and were not being heard after such a massive effort to state their case and describe the ongoing calamity they were experiencing to their so-called representatives. The rhetorical choices are instructive, illustrating both respect for the functions of the State and despair that their country could not see the labourer as essential to its success. As the declaration states:

Working Men of Stockport, the hand of oppression is still upon us, continuing its horrifying work in our dwellings, scraping from our tables the last mouthful which the trifling wages dealt out by the niggardly hand of capital enable us to procure.