Following the Maxwells’ lead, Yorkshire handloom weavers had started to organise, and on 21 March 1835 delegates at Bradford formed a county association. Two weeks later, Bradford weavers and employers publicly welcomed the reappointment of the investigating Committee and petitioned Parliament for protection and wages regulation.1 But power looms and the great wholesalers — the ‘slaughter-houses’ of Oastler’s speeches — continued to kill handloom weaving, while the easily learned trade continued to attract the unemployed, the unsuccessful and the Irish to its overpopulated ranks. However, the new organisation appealed to the West Riding candidates at Bradford and Halifax, in April, and allied with the factory reformers. When Jeremiah Dewhirst, the weavers’ leader, corresponded with Poulett Scrope, Bull corrected his first letter and Oastler largely composed the second.2 The weavers’ campaign had no effect on Parliament or the economists, but it was one of the stages by which they became the spearhead of Northern militancy.
KeywordsForeign Competition Factory Movement Wage Regulation Sunday School Literary Discussion
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- 25.W. Paul: History of the Origin and Progress of the Operative Conservative Societies (Doncaster, 1842 ed.), 8–9; Rules of Leeds O.C.S.; LI, LT, 28 Nov.; Blackburn Standard, 2 Dec.Google Scholar
- 27.Paul, Hill, The Times, passim. G. D. H. Cole: A Century of Co-operation (Manchester, 1945), 73, strangely commented (of the 1840’s) that ‘it is doubtful if such a creature as a ‘Conservative working man’ had ever been thought of. The Tory Party had made no effort then to organise itself on a popular basis’.Google Scholar