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Item of the Month – May 2013

Henry Vincent (1813-1878)

Henry Vincent was a leading Chartist of the late 1830s and much of the 1840s. He was a radical, self educated artisan, very much in the “self improvement” school of the early industrial working class.  Always eager to further the course of the People’s Charter, he founded the Western Vindicator in late 1838; this  newspaper was popular amongst the Charter-supporting working class of the south of England and South Wales.

This particular letter is dated 24 August 1838 and comes at a crucial time in the history of the Chartist movement.  It contains a reference to the large demonstration held on Kersal Moor outside Manchester on 24 September 1838. This demonstration was held, in part at least, to elect representatives to the Chartist National Convention in London.

The early part of the letter reads a little like the touring itinerary of a sort of democratic evangelical preachers; Vincent tours the towns and villages of what is now Greater Manchester, Oldham, Middleton, Ashton etc.

Some of Vincent’s political inspirations are mentioned – events as well as people, including William Cobbett and Tom Paine, as well as Henry Hunt and the Peterloo Massacre.