"Discuss the ideology of moral and physical force and their likely levels of success in the Chartist movement".
The failure of Chartism can be largely attributed to the failure of chartist leaders to distinguish a clear plan of action combining the use of moral and physical force. Delegates were unable to agree on what action should be taken and as they discussed the possibilities, the movement was splitting into two factions. Moral force chartists favoured acts of civil disobedience, but this alone wasn`t radical enough to succeed in attracting the attention of those in power. However, the reluctance of the leaders advocating physical force and chartist supporters to "take to the streets" meant that physical force alone wasn`t actually going to materialise, unless this hollow action was backed by economic depression to provoke radical action.
Many working class people were disappointed that the 1832 Reform Act only extended the vote to include the property owning middle class; this disappointment turned to anger when the Whig government passed the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act. In June 1836, William Lovett, Henry Hetherington, John Cleave and James Watson formed the London Working Men`s Association (LWMA). Although it only ever had a few hundred members, it became a very influential organisation. In 1838 the leaders of LWMA drew up a Charter of political demands, and Lovett was chosen to lead the movement the following year.
The four main leaders of the Chartist movement had previously been involved in political campaigns and had all experienced periods of imprisonment. However, they were all opposed to using violence to achieve their aims. They became known as moral force chartists, who believed that peaceful methods of persuasion such as the holding of public meetings, the publication of newspapers and pamplets and the presentation of petitions to parliament would finally convince those in power to enfranchise the working class.