The Chartist Movement was one of rights. The workers felt they had worked hard for the rights than those of higher classes had. However, they were not arguing for more money or more land, all they wanted was universal suffrage. The workers believed it was time to put the unrest, to rest. Their continued beliefs were that universal suffrage was the best thing for public confidence and safety.
In the National Petition dated 1839, the working-class opened their plea with a powerful statement. When talking about their current form of government they stated: “the few have governed for the interest of the few.” The workers feet that the government has long wasted their money on selfish and inadequate gentlemen, that do nothing but serve their own needs and benefits. They believed that if the government continued on its current track that the stability of the throne would jeopardized. I think this was a slight threat on behalf of the workers, but was disguised as a suggestion of improvement.
The workers continued by saying that since they were forced to support and obey the laws; it was only fair that they should have the ability to decide on the makings of the laws. “We perform the duties of the freemen; we must have the privileges of freemen.
The workers believed that with universal suffrage frequent elections were necessary. Perhaps they felt that with governments in office for a smaller amount of time, this would deter someone from becoming to powerful. The idea of the elections was important for the workers, because in the petition they asked for unrestricted elections. These are elections that are non-threatening to both the candidate as well as the voter. The workers were tired of having people who did not understand them, speak for them. They wanted their own people to stand up and speak on behalf of all the working class.
The proletariats were not irrational in their demands. They knew that every man could not simply be allowed the right, to be a leader or a representative in the house. That is why they stated that every male of lawful age, sane mind, and unconvicted of crime should be allowed the same rights as those in the higher classes. They also suggested that voting be conducted in secret ballot form for the protection of those who vote.
The biggest problem with this petition was that the demands were very important, for both parties. It was hard for the higher classes to simply give up their rights, which, in their opinions, were in the best hands. However, the workers should have had the rights that every other person had. Perhaps it was not wise of workers to be so strict in their demands, but with the frustration they felt, there was probably no other solution.
It is interesting to look at the demands of the working class, because in today’s society these requests are not that extreme. Most citizens are allowed all these voting rights and privileges, but at the time of this national petition it was very important for the rights of the citizens to be recognized and heard.