Material relating to the foundation of the Political Union: 1830

Pages 1-7

London Radicalism 1830-1843: A Selection of the Papers of Francis Place. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1970.

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1. [Add. Ms. 27789, f. 145]

On the 8 March [1830] an immense meeting of the people principally the working people was held in the grounds at the Eagle Tavern in the City Road, for the purpose of forming a Metropolitan Union, Daniel O'Connell took the chair, and Henry Hunt took a conspicuous part in the proceedings. A council of thirty-six was appointed and Henry Hunt accepted the office of Treasurer. This appointment ruined the Union. Several who had been named on the council refused to act and nobody would subscribe money to be under the controul [sic] or the care of Mr. Hunt, and the Union was soon extinguished from want of money to pay its current expenses.

[Add. Ms. 27822, ff. 11-14. Printed.]

Authorised Copy of the Resolutions Adopted at the Great Public Meeting, Consisting of 30,000 People, Held At the Eagle Tavern, City-Road, on Monday, 8th March, 1830, for forming a Metropolitan Political Union for The Recovery and Protection of Public Rights. Daniel O'Connell, Esq., M.P. in the chair. Metropolitan Meeting.

At a public Meeting of the Merchants, Manufacturers, Tradesmen, Mechanics, Artisans, and other Inhabitants of the Metropolis, held at the Eagle Tavern, City Road, on Monday morning, the 8th March, 1830, the following Resolutions were entered into:—

Daniel O'Connell, Esq., M.P., in the chair

Resolved, 1st.—That the ruinous depression of the trade of the City of London and its Suburbs has been progressively increasing for many years past, and has now arrived at an extent never before equalled; and as all the great productive interests of the nation are suffering, we are convinced that the hopes of amelioration, which have been so long and so frequently held out, are altogether fallacious and delusive.

Resolved, 2nd.—That, in the opinion of this Meeting, the general distress which now afflicts the country, is entirely to be ascribed to the long, sanguinary, extravagant, and unnecessary wars, waged against the liberties of the people of America and of France; and this general distress has been greatly heightened by the gross mismanagement of public affairs; and that such mismanagement can only be effectually and permanently remedied by real Radical Reform in the Commons' House of Parliament; and this Meeting is also of opinion, that for the legal and constitutional accomplishment of this great object, and for the further redress of public wrongs and grievances, through the medium of reformed Parliaments, it is expedient to form a General Political Union between the middling and labouring Classes of the People in the Metropolis.

The plan of a Political Union, between the middling and labouring Classes of the People in the Metropolis, for the protection of public rights, with a Political Council attached to it, having been read to this Meeting, and the same having been duly considered—

Resolved, 3rd.—That it be approved, adopted, ratified, and confirmed, as the act of this Meeting, and of the Friends of real, that is, Radical Reform, resident in this Metropolis.

Resolved, 4th.—That the thirty-six Gentlemen hereby named, be appointed to the Political Council, for the year ending the 1st Monday in July, 1830, with power to add to their numbers, so that the whole do not exceed fifty; and on that day the Council shall be elected by the Members of the Union, agreeably to the Rules and Regulations.

Henry Hunt
Daniel O'Connell
Alexander Dawson
John Grady
Robert Mercer
John Wood
Richard Phillips
Edward Waylen
Emanuel Dias Santos
Joseph Hume
Otway Cave
Charles Pearson
H. Hetherington
William E. Andrews
Cornelius Griffin
B. Warden
John Cleave
James Walker
Charles Lane
William Lovett
Robert Ellis
Daniel French
F. A. Augero
Daniel Barrett
C. J. Hand
George Ward
Robert Ellis
Thomas Barrett
John Henley
James Watson
John Matland
P. Cavanagh
William Carpenter
John Cook
James Mee
C. E. Mawbey
W. H. Jones

Resolved, 5th—That Henry Hunt, Esq., be appointed Treasurer.

Resolved, 6th.—That this Meeting pledges itself, collectively and individually, to support the objects of the Political Union by every just, legal, peaceful, and constitutional means.

Resolved, 7th.—That we recommend to all our fellow-citizens to subscribe to the Funds of the Political Union, so far as they can conveniently afford, and to obey all the just, legal, and constitutional advice of the Council, as far as they can be legally, constitutionally, and conveniently followed.

Resolved, 8th.—That the Petition now read to this Meeting be adopted as the Petition of the Inhabitants of the Metropolis, subject to such alterations as the Political Council may direct.

Copy. to the Honourable the Commons of, &c. &c.

Humbly Sheweth, That your Petitioners have long suffered under accumulated difficulties and intolerable distresses; their industry has become abortive, their skill and capital are without profit, their sufferings are daily increasing, their resources are wasting, and they are without prospect of change or relief.

That, having long reflected upon the primary and immediate causes of these misfortunes, your Petitioners ascribe them entirely to the want of a Radical Reform of your honourable House; the members of which not being chosen by, or duly sympathising with, the people, have for a series of years compromised the nation's welfare, by erroneous and pernicious measures; and by a policy which prefers personal and particular interests to the general welfare of the whole of the community.

That to the want also of a Radical Reform of the Representation, your Petitioners ascribe the ruinous war with the American Colonies, which ended in their separation from, and entire independence of, this country; that to the same fatal cause, your Petitioners ascribe the late bloody, long-continued, and unjust wars against the liberties of France, which your Petitioners believe were waged and carried on to prevent that reform at home, for which the people had so long and so earnestly petitioned.

That to the same cause, also, they ascribe the enormous debt of eight hundred and fifty millions(!) and the oppressive and grinding taxes annually required to pay the interest of the same; to the same cause also your Petitioners ascribe the upholding of the unparalleled and prodigal establishments in time of peace, by taxes drawn from the people, who, at the same time, are suffering the severest, the most cruel and most degrading privations; privations abhorrent and inconsistent with the character of Englishmen, and disgraceful to the nation at large.

That to the same cause also, namely, the want of a Radical Reform in the Commons House of Parliament, your Petitioners ascribe the utter neglect and shameful disregard of their distresses; the professed inability to relieve them, and the total indifference with which the petitions of the people have been hitherto received, and the accumulation of Fiscal Statutes, diminishing their personal independence; and restraining, by innovations of every kind, the privileges which have hitherto been the birth-right of all Englishmen.

That your Petitioners pray therefore that your honourable House will restore, in purity of form and efficiency of practice, the rights and civil privileges assured to them by their ancestors, in Magna Charta, in the Petition of Right, and in the Bill of Rights; the fundamental principles of which, all the kings of England, from Edward the First down to George the Fourth, have, by their Coronation Oaths, been bound to maintain; and which guarantee civil liberty, by providing 'that no man shall be taxed who is not represented in Parliament; and that none shall be imprisoned, fined, or destroyed, except by the verdict of his equals;' and which also guarantee individual property, by protecting, even from debts 'to the Crown, a man's tools and means of obtaining future subsistence!'

That your Petitioners further pray, that your honourable House will not continue longer to oppose such measures as may be proposed for your own radical and effectual Reform; and your Petitioners make this prayer not only for their own benefit, the welfare of their families, and the salvation of their country, but for the preservation of your honourable House itself, which can only exist in power and honour through the voice, influence, affection, and confidence of the people.

And your Petitioners will ever pray.

Resolved, 9th.—That the thanks of this Meeting be given to the Chairman, for the able and impartial manner in which he has conducted the business of the day.

The following are the Objects of the Political Union

1st.—To obtain, by every just, legal, constitutional, and peaceful means, an Effectual and Radical Reform in the Commons' House of Parliament.

2nd.—To inquire, consult, consider, and determine, respecting the rights and liberties of the industrious classes, and respecting the legal means of securing those which remain, and recovering, through the modes sanctioned by the law, and by the principles of the free Constitution of this Realm, those which have been lost.

3rd.—To prepare Petitions, Addresses, and Remonstrances to the Crown, and both or either of the Houses of Parliament, respecting the preservation and restoration of Public Rights, and respecting the repeal of bad laws, and the enactment of a wise and all-comprehensive code of good laws.

4th.—To prevent and redress, by legal and constitutional means, all local Public Wrongs and Oppressions, and all local encroachments upon the rights, interests, and lawful privileges, of the Community.

5th.—To promote peace, union, and concord, among all classes of his Majesty's subjects, and to guide and direct the public mind into uniform, peaceful, and legitimate operations, within the strict limit of law and constitutional principles, instead of leaving it to waste its strength in loose, desultory, and unconnected exertions, or to deviate into any course which would deserve the condemnation of sober, rational, and just men.

6th.—To collect and organise the peaceful expression of the public opinion, so as to bring it to act upon the Houses of Parliament in a just, legal, constitutional, and effectual way.

7th.—To adopt such measures as may be legal and necessary for the purpose of obtaining relief for the National Distress, of rendering justice to the injured, and of bringing to trial, according to due course of law, any individuals, in whatever station, who may be found to have acted from criminal or corrupt motives.

8th.—To avoid all private or secret proceedings of any kind or nature, and all concealment of any of the views or objects of the Union.

9th.—To facilitate, for all persons clothed with any legal authority, full, free, and constant access to all the books, documents, regulations, and proceedings of the Union; it being the fixed basis of this Union, in all things to obey and conform to the Law, and in nothing to violate the spirit or even the letter of the Constitution.

The following are the Rules and Regulations of the Political Union.

1st.—The Constitution of this Union is essentially popular. It admits, as equal members, all persons whatever, whose names shall be registered in the Books of the Union, so long as they shall conform to the Rules and Regulations of the Union.

2nd.—The general management of the affairs of the Union is committed to a Political Council, chosen annually at the General Meetings of the Members of the Union, and subject only to the control of such annual or other general meetings.

3rd.—All persons becoming members of the Union, are expected to contribute such donations, and annual or quarterly subscriptions, as they can conveniently afford, the subscriptions not being less than 1s. per quarter.

4th.—A general annual meeting of the members of the Union takes place on the first Monday in July. The members of the Union also meet whenever called together by order of the Political Council, or by a requisition signed by the Chairman or Deputy Chairman of the Political Council, and countersigned by the Secretary; or by a Requisition signed by any seven of the Political Council, or by not less than 200 Members of the Union. No General Meeting can be held unless the Requisition is advertised in three morning newspapers. The Secretary produces the books for inspection at all general meetings.

5th.—The General Meetings of the members of the Union choose annually, on the first Monday in July, the Political Council of not less than 36 individuals; into whose hands the disposition and expenditure of the funds of the Society, and the general management of its concerns for the ensuing year, are confided.

6th.—The Political Council cannot exist more than one year without being re-chosen by the general meetings. At the General Meetings each individual is put in nomination separately (or in such a way as the General Meetings may direct), and is declared a member of the council by the majority of members of the Union present. The Chairman decides on which side is the majority; unless a division is demanded by fifty members present, in which case a division takes place, and tellers are appointed on each side.

7th.—The General Meetings choose annually three Auditors for the ensuing year, who shall pass the accounts of the Council for such year; and in case two of such Auditors shall not agree in passing the accounts, the subject of difference shall be submitted to the General Meeting.

8th.—The General Meetings choose a Treasurer and Trustees, in whose hands the funds of the Society are deposited.

9th.—The Political Council meet weekly, or as often as they may deem necessary; at such meetings seven of them are competent to act; they keep a record of their proceedings, and they appoint General Meetings of the Society as often as may become expedient.

10th.—The Political Council appoint a Chairman, a Deputy Chairman, a Secretary, Collectors of Contributions, and such other officers, either with or without salaries, as may be found expedient.

11th.—The Council employ such solicitors and legal advisers as they may approve.

12th.—The Council employ the funds of the Society solely in effecting the objects of the Society, to the best of their judgment and discretion; and no money can be drawn from the treasurer or trustees, without an order passed by the Council, and signed by seven of its members.

13th.—No part of the funds of the Society can be expended in any object in which a member of the Council is personally interested, without the previous consent of two-thirds of the members of the Council present at a meeting specially called for the purpose of considering the subject.

14th.—The Council pay their own expenses. They hold no secret meetings. They have power to add to their number, and to dismiss from the General Meetings any persons disturbing the peace, or violating the rules and regulations of the Society.

15th.—No alteration of, or addition to, the rules and regulations of the Society can be adopted, without being previously submitted to the Council, and recommended by a majority to a General Meeting of the Society.

16th.—The subscriptions of all classes of his Majesty's subjects are invited in support of the Metropolitan Political Union, the objects of which being strictly conservatory, are calculated to restore the just rights and interests of the Industrious Classes; to confirm and preserve the constitutional privileges of every class of the community from all illegal violation whatever.

The following are the Duties of the Members of the Political Union.

1st.—To be good, faithful, and loyal subjects to the King.

2nd.—To obey the laws of the land; and where they cease to protect the rights, liberties, and interests, of the community, to endeavour to get them changed by just, legal, constitutional, and peaceful means, only.

3rd.—To present themselves at all General Meetings of the Political Union, as far as they conveniently can; to conduct themselves peaceably and legally at such meetings, and to depart to their respective homes as soon as the Chairman shall leave the chair.

4th.—To choose only just, upright, and able men, as members of the Political Council, and to dismiss them and elect others in their stead, whenever they shall cease to watch over and defend, The Rights, Liberties, and Interests, of the Middling and Labouring Classes of the People.

5th.—To obey strictly all the just, legal, and constitutional advice of the Political Council, so soon as they shall be made public, and so far as they can legally and conveniently be followed.

6th.—To bear in mind that the strength of our Society consists in the Peace, order, unity, and Legality, of our proceedings; and to consider all persons as enemies who shall, in any way, invite or promote violence, discord, or division, or any illegal or doubtful measure, and to exclude all such persons from the Union.

7th.—Never to forget that, by the exercise of the above qualities, we shall produce the peaceful display of an immense organised moral power, which cannot be despised or disregarded; but that, if we do not keep clear of the multitudinous and intricate chicanery which surrounds us, the corrupt Crown lawyer and hired soldier will probably break in upon us, and render all our exertions vain.

The Following are the duties of the Members of the Political Council.

1st.—To endeavour, to the utmost of their power, to carry into effect the Objects of the Political Union, by every just, legal, constitutional, and peaceful means.

2nd.—To use none other than just, legal, constitutional, and peaceful means.

3rd.—To seek no private objects of their own, and to use the funds of the Society solely in promoting the objects of the Union.

4th.—To watch closely the proceedings of the Legislature, and to present petitions and remonstrances to the Crown and both Houses of Parliament, whenever the rights, liberties, and interests, of the middling and labouring classes of the Community are invaded, or whenever they can be restored or secured.

5th.—To endeavour to devise the means of assisting to preserve the peace and order of this City and neighbourhood, during any political convulsions which may be brought upon the country, through the distress occasioned by the mismanagement of public affairs.

6th.—To consider and report upon the legality and practicability of holding Central Meetings of Delegates from the Industrious Classes, in the manner as similar kinds of meetings were lately held by the Delegates of the Agriculturists assembled at Henderson's Hotel.

7th.—To consider the means of organising a system of operation, whereby the public press may be influenced to act generally in support of the public interests.

8th.—In all their proceedings to look chiefly to the recovery and preservation of the Rights and Interests of the middling and labouring classes of the people.

9th.—To avoid any thing secret, private, or concealed, or in any way inconsistent with the spirit or letter of the Law or Constitution.

In conclusion, let it be ever held in mind, that the basis of this Union is obedience to the laws, and conformity to the principles of our Constitutional rights, so that any act or proceeding inconsistent with either the one or the other, is declared to be, and shall be held and deemed to be, utterly void as to all persons, save such as personally and individually take any part in such act or proceeding; and every such person is hereby declared to cease to be a member of this Union, and his expulsion is declared to be a matter of right.

All letters and communications to be addressed (post paid) to C.M. Riley, Secretary, at the office of the Metropolitan Political Union, 9, Red Lion Court, Fleet Street, or at the Globe Tavern, Shoe Lane, Fleet Street, London.