Tuesday 13 February 2024

William Rider - one of the ‘physical force men’

‘I never thought your moral force, your rams horns, or your silver trumpets would level the citadel of corruption,’ declared the West Riding Chartist William Rider in looking back on divisions that had split the First Chartist Convention nearly twenty years earlier.

Having come to Chartism through his experiences in the early. 1830s’ agitation for short-time working and opposition to the workhouse system of the New Poor Law, Rider swiftly assumed a leading role in the movement in the North of England, as secretary of the Great Northern Union and a close ally of Feargus O’Connor.

But as one of what he himself called the ‘physical force men’, he went too far even for O’Connor - urging the convention to take up arms, and resigning as a delegate when it rejected his demand.

Despite this, Rider remained an important figure within Chartism into the early 1850s as publisher of the Northern Star, and he continued to argue his anti-Whig, anti-factory owner views in the working-class press until his death -  a physical force man to the last.

I have tracked Rider’s life story and written it up on the Chartist Ancestors website, but have been unable to find a picture of him. He will be somewhere in the engraving below of the First Chartist Convention, but quite where is anybody’s guess.

Read William Rider’s life story.

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