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May 8, 1841

cover page of Chartist Circular published on May 8, 1841

Chartist Circular





Available years


In August 1839 the Universal Suffrage Central Committee for Scotland was established in Glasgow to coordinate Chartist activities in Scotland. It quickly decided to issue a cheap weekly newspaper, the purpose of which was to spread the Chartist message throughout Scotland (particularly to working men in rural areas). The result was the four-page 1/2d paper The Chartist Circular , the first issue of which appeared on 28 September 1839. Edited by William Thomson, who was General Secretary of the Central Committee, it was unstamped and thus did not carry any news. Instead, it primarily concentrated on educating its readers regarding the Charter, believing that all that was required to achieve the Charter was the vigorous dissemination of Chartist principles. It also skirted controversial issues and emphasised the importance of tolerating minor differences within the movement in order to maintain unity on the principal issue of universal male suffrage. It was an immediate success, with the first issue achieving a circulation of over 20,000 copies, and maintaining a circulation of 22,500 copies per week through its first year. However, by 1841 it was struggling financially and circulation numbers started to decline. It eventually ceased publication in July 1842, with a circulation of only 7,000. As The Chartist Circular had been a means of enabling the predominantly Glaswegian Central Committee to maintain a modicum of unity in the Scottish Chartist movement, the termination of the paper meant the end of any semblance of national organisation in Scotland.

For this newspaper, we have the following titles in, or planned for, our digital archive:

  • 1839–41 The Chartist Circular

This newspaper is published by an unknown publisher in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland. It was digitised and first made available on the British Newspaper Archive in May 8, 2013 . The latest issues were added in Jul 7, 2015.