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By law, newspapers costing six pence or less now must pay for a government stamp, or their publication was illegal.Penny or tuppenny papers had begun to flourish throughout England during the 1830s - the "Paupers' Press".We will begin the Chartist story in 1832 when the British Parliament passed the first Reform Act.
But this failure was followed almost at once, by the remarkable new Chartist movement. It was a draft for an Act of Parliament, with 13 sections, to be presented to the House.
The Hammonds argue that something more than struggling for just wages and conditions had always inspired some of the older Chartists like Cobbett or O'Connell, and also the younger Oastler and O'Connor, leaders of the new movement about to emerge. The 13 sections outlined proposals to reform elections, so that Parliament could be truly representative.
Many were edited by people who would shortly become leading Chartists, like Fergus O'Connor's , which he deliberately published unstamped.
He wrote that the unjust tax had "made the rich man's paper cheaper, the poor man's dearer." Like large numbers of working class editors he was arrested and imprisoned.
Eligible voters increased from about 430,000 to 650,000.
Almost at once however the Act produced widespread disappointment and anger, especially among the new "working and industrious classes" (See footnote 1).
The Tolpuddle Martyrs, agricultural labourers who had joined the new Union to try to raise their wages back from seven shillings to ten shillings, were arrested and deported.
The clear message to employers was that they could now act with impunity, assured of full government support and there is overwhelming documentary evidence, that virtually all of them understood it.
Remember this widely hated legislation was produced by the new Reformed Parliament which thousands of people had welcomed as a hopeful new beginning.
This same parliament now also revived the hated stamp duty, the "tax on knowledge".