by W. Hamish Fraser

It is forty years since there has been a full-scale study of Chartism in Scotland and since then study of Chartism have been transformed.
This new study makes use of the new approaches but also recognises the importance of setting events and attitudes within the wider context of social, political and religious movements that were affecting Scotland between 1830 and the end of the 1860s. The process of industrialisation that had emerged slowly in all but a small number of areas was speeding up and this was creating huge changes for working people not only in the big cities but in towns and villages across Scotland.
The decades of the eighteen thirties, forties and fifties were also ones when there was intense intellectual debate about relations with the rest of Britain, about the place of religion in the state, about the relationship between social classes and about the nature of politics. The Chartist movement in Scotland, while conscious of being part of a wider working-class political movement, has to be seen in the context of these debates.
Making extensive use of both the Chartist press and local newspapers this comprehensive re-examination of Scottish Chartism sheds much new light on the activities of Chartists in localities from Orkney and Wick in the north of Scotland to Dumfries in the south. It challenges the long-held view that Chartism in Scotland was markedly moderate in its demands and approaches compared with the movement in England.

'It is hard to see how it might be bettered in the years to come. This is a book that deserves to be read - and argued over - widely.' Scottish Labour History

Perhaps the greatest service of Fraser's book is in raising a host of questions, some newly minted and some restated from Wilson's earlier work. Why was support stronger in Scotland for the Complete Suffrage Union, assuming that explanations based on some inherent preference for political moderation among Scots are discounted? Exactly how did the links between religious and political languages and ideas shape the Chartist experience in Scotland? Students seeking to approach these and other questions now have an updated, richly-detailed and well written narrative from which to launch their inquiries. Journal of Scottish Historical Studies

Contents: Introduction; The Political Background 1780s-1836; The Coming of the Charter 1836-1838; The National Convention 1838-1839; By Force or Not 1839-1840; Chartism and Its Churches; New Directions and Old Tensions 1840-1842; Depression and Decline 1842-1844; Lean Years 1844-1847; 1848; Chartism to Liberalism; Leaders and Supporters; Being a Chartist; Conclusion. Appendix: Some Scottish Chartist Activists.

Hamish Fraser is Professor Emeritus in History at the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of many books and articles on aspects of trade unionism and of Scottish history, including Conflict and Class: Scottish Workers, 1700-1838 (1998); Alexander Campbell and the Search for Socialism (1996); Scottish Popular Politics: From Radicalism to Labour (2000).

Paperback ISBN. 9780850366662

Published September 2010