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Mass Democracy in the 19th century

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Parnell View Drop Down
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    Posted: 01 Aug 2010 at 09:06
Whilst taking early 19th century American democracy into account, I think too little is made of the experience in Ireland with Daniel O'Connell. In fact I believe that his monster rallies and Repeal movement (early 1840s) was one of the earliest completely constitutional mass movement that had a true democratic basis. In the 1820s he introduced the Catholic Rent, which was raised from a penny per month contribution from ordinary Catholics across the island in order to pay for his Catholic Committee (And in turn pay for their political activites, agitation, petitions etc. as well as helping Catholic tenants displaced by angry Protestant Landlords due to their political leanings) I think the 'Catholic Rent' was probably one of the earliest examples of grass roots democracy in the modern era. O'Connell was a principled democrat and Liberal, despising violence and he was also active in various other human rights movements, such as the abolition of slavery.

Can anyone offer any examples from continental Europe or the America's?


Edited by Parnell - 01 Aug 2010 at 09:08
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Al Jassas View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Aug 2010 at 09:26
The US was never a democracy. Universal suffrage there was only given in 1964 with the civil rights act.
 
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Parnell View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Aug 2010 at 09:29
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

The US was never a democracy. Universal suffrage there was only given in 1964 with the civil rights act.
 
Al-Jassas


hehe... I was going to point that out in the post but I thought better of it.

I was very careful to use terms like 'democratic elements' or 'democratic basis'... Generally terms that are vague enough to rise above the pedantry... But anyway, I understand what you mean and I fully agree that American 'Democracy' was hardly democracy.

Perhaps the title should be altered to say 'the origins of mass democracy, 19th century'

Anyway, the hope is to explore how mass democratic movements (And I use O'Connel as an example, though there are plentiful examples in Jacksonian America) took root, how they operated, and what kind of demagoguery they employed.

This is democracy of the men, lets remember.

Or if we are going to be more precise, Britain was not a democracy in the 1840s but O'Connels Repeal movement was certainly democratic - a lá, a mass democratic organisation within an undemocratic system.
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fantasus View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2010 at 05:03
Originally posted by Parnell Parnell wrote:

Whilst taking early 19th century American democracy into account, I think too little is made of the experience in Ireland with Daniel O'Connell. In fact I believe that his monster rallies and Repeal movement (early 1840s) was one of the earliest completely constitutional mass movement that had a true democratic basis. In the 1820s he introduced the Catholic Rent, which was raised from a penny per month contribution from ordinary Catholics across the island in order to pay for his Catholic Committee (And in turn pay for their political activites, agitation, petitions etc. as well as helping Catholic tenants displaced by angry Protestant Landlords due to their political leanings) I think the 'Catholic Rent' was probably one of the earliest examples of grass roots democracy in the modern era. O'Connell was a principled democrat and Liberal, despising violence and he was also active in various other human rights movements, such as the abolition of slavery.

Can anyone offer any examples from continental Europe or the America's?
It depends very much on criteria for "grass-roots" and democracy.
If we discuss movements with wide appeal among some segments of society I think there may be many examples, even from here (Denmark and other parts of Scandinavia) - with farmers organising themselves - cooperation and education among the parts of population outside the earlier elites.
On the other hand it may be more difficult to find movements with more "universal" appeal to almost all the population. (the before mentioned Cooperative movements where as far as I know mostly a movement of better off propertied farmers, and the rural and urban poors may have been outside most of what we normally regard as political activities). But still I think significant parts of many populations in some ways participated in the policies of the 19.th century.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2010 at 05:25

 Don't forget the Chartists, arguably the first mass democratic movement anywhere in the industrialised world.

 The movement's charter:
  1. A VOTE for every man twenty-one years of age, of sound mind, and not undergoing punishment for crime.
  2. THE SECRET BALLOT. - To protect the elector in the exercise of his vote.
  3. NO PROPERTY QUALIFICATION for Members of Parliament - thus enabling the constituencies to return the man of their choice, be he rich or poor.
  4. PAYMENT OF MEMBERS, thus enabling an honest tradesman, working man, or other person, to serve a constituency, when taken from his business to attend to the interests of the Country.
  5. EQUAL CONSTITUENCIES, securing the same amount of representation for the same number of electors, instead of allowing small constituencies to swamp the votes of large ones.
  6. ANNUAL PARLIAMENTS, thus presenting the most effectual check to bribery and intimidation, since though a constituency might be bought once in seven years (even with the ballot), no purse could buy a constituency (under a system of universal suffrage) in each ensuing twelve-month; and since members, when elected for a year only, would not be able to defy and betray their constituents as now.
And Parnell will be glad to know that Daniel O'Connell was one of the original signatories.
 


Edited by gcle2003 - 02 Aug 2010 at 05:34
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Parnell View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2010 at 05:33
Ah yes, the chartists! Cheers for that Graham.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2010 at 05:49
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

 Don't forget the Chartists, arguably the first mass democratic movement anywhere in the industrialised world.

 The movement's charter:
  1. A VOTE for every man twenty-one years of age, of sound mind, and not undergoing punishment for crime.
  2. THE SECRET BALLOT. - To protect the elector in the exercise of his vote.
  3. NO PROPERTY QUALIFICATION for Members of Parliament - thus enabling the constituencies to return the man of their choice, be he rich or poor.
  4. PAYMENT OF MEMBERS, thus enabling an honest tradesman, working man, or other person, to serve a constituency, when taken from his business to attend to the interests of the Country.
  5. EQUAL CONSTITUENCIES, securing the same amount of representation for the same number of electors, instead of allowing small constituencies to swamp the votes of large ones.
  6. ANNUAL PARLIAMENTS, thus presenting the most effectual check to bribery and intimidation, since though a constituency might be bought once in seven years (even with the ballot), no purse could buy a constituency (under a system of universal suffrage) in each ensuing twelve-month; and since members, when elected for a year only, would not be able to defy and betray their constituents as now.
And Parnell will be glad to know that Daniel O'Connell was one of the original signatories.
 


What a terrifying sight that must have been for the powers that be back then, eh? Awesome picture.  They didn't build Westminster Palace with one side on the Thames for nothing.
"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.
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