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Chartism Test Questions: 9

Source A

On Monday evening last, Mr Feargus O'Connor delivered the first of three lectures, in the building called the Mechanics' Hall of Science, Campfield; and the large hall was crowded. It was publicly announced that his next lecture, on the following evening, would be on the subject of the repeal of the legislative union with Ireland; and last evening was the time appointed for this lecture. There was a tolerably large attendance, though not so numerous as that of the preceding evening; and it is alleged by the chartists, that about a hundred men, most of whom they say were provided with sticks, forced their way into the room without paying the pence required for admission at the doors. . . . 

The chartists proposed that Mr James Scholefield should take the chair; the adverse party opposed this, and proposed another chairman. The question was put to the vote, and each party contended that they were in the majority. There were mixed up with this cause of contention, sundry cries about the corn-laws, and many persons wished the discussion to be on that subject instead of the repeal of the union. This of course increased the confusion, and, as the chartists appeared determined to place Mr. Scholefleld in the chair, the opposite party proceeded from words to blows; the rails, benches, bannisters, gas-pipes, &c. in the hail were torn up, and speedily converted into offensive weapons; and, thus armed, an attack was made upon the chartists, who were speedily driven from the room. Mr O'Connor, it is said, made a prompt exit through a back door, on the beginning of the fray. Several persons are stated to have been much hurt, and we were told that one of the re porters received a severe blow on the head.

'Mr Feargus O'Connor - Row in the "Hall of Science".', Manchester Guardian 9 March, 1842.

Source B

The missiles now began to fly in all directions at those on the platform, when I went in front, took off my hat, and cheered the Chartists on. While I was in the act of cheering, four or five of the Chartists - young Campbell being the only one I knew - rushed to the front, and seizing me by the collar and body, attempted to drag me back, saying, 'Feargus, they'll murder you, that's what they have come here for.' 

As they were in the act of pulling me back, I received a blow of a large stone on the left shin, that knocked me down on a bench. I got up, and now stones, from a pound to three pound weight, pieces of iron and missiles of all descriptions began to fly round me. Whittaker and two or three others seized me by the collar, and while dragging me back, I received a blow of a stone on the breast and one in the neck. I then turned round to those who held me, and said, 'for God's sake let me loose, I must jump down.' Just as I turned round I received a blow of some sharp Instrument behind, which cut my hat through, and as I fronted the meeting again, I received a tremendous blow from a large stone just above the right eye, which knocked me down, the blood gushing out copiously. Higginbottom, Whittaker, and two or three lifted me up and dragged off the platform.

ACCOUNT of the "Bloody and ferocious attack of a band of assassins, hired by the League, upon Feargus O'Connor and the Chartists of Manchester", Northern Star, 12 March, 1842.


  1. According to source A, what were the causes of the riot on 8 March? 
  2. Why was it likely that the second meeting would be less well attended than the first?
  3. Why were the Corn Laws likely to have been an issue at these meetings?
  4. How do the extracts differ in their portrayal of O'Connor's role?
  5. Whom did O'Connor blame for the violence?
  6. Why were the two groups said to be involved in the riot mutually hostile?
  7. What drawbacks do these documents have as sources for the historian?
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