Friday, 2 March 2012

More teetotal Chartist names

The names of signatories to Henry Vincent’s teetotal Chartist address of 1840 have been added to the Teetotal Chartism page on Chartist Ancestors.
For many activists, total abstinence from alcohol was an essential part of Chartism since it proved that working men could be trusted with the responsibility of the vote. Following Vincent’s lead, a number of teetotal Chartist organisations were established, either alongside local branches of the National Charter Association, or by changing the name of existing organisations to incorporate a rejection of alcohol.
Yet this move was not universally welcomed within the Chartist movement. Feargus O’Connor, among others, was a strident critic of teetotal, Christian and knowledge Chartism alike, seeing them as distractions from the cause, or likely to suggest that the vote was not a right but had to be earned by those proving themselves suitable through abstention from alcohol, religious fervour or education.
Indeed, a decade after the teetotal Chartist address, the Chartist leader Ernest Jones would declare: “Some will tell you that teetotalism will get you the Charter: the Charter don't lie at the bottom of a glass of water.”