Friday, April 5, 2013

William Cuffay 1788 - 1870 - Afrikan Chartist Leader Remembered


WILLIAM CUFFAY : The Life & Times of a Chartist Leader by Martin  Hoyles
William Cuffay (1788-1870) was one of the leaders of Chartism, which was the largest political movement ever seen in Britain.
His grandfather was an African slave and his father was a West Indian slave, from St Kitts, who managed to gain his freedom and settle in Chatham, Kent. Cuffay trained as a tailor and moved to London where, in 1834, he was involved in the tailors strike for shorter hours.
In 1839 he joined the Chartist movement and soon became well known for his oratory and sense of humour. At the final mass demonstration for the Charter on Kennington Common on 10 April 1848, he protested strongly at the decision to call off the march to the House of Commons to present the petition.
He called the national leadership a set of cowardly humbugs. In August 1848 Cuffay became involved in a secret revolutionary committee which was planning an uprising in London. He was arrested, tried and convicted, on the evidence of two police spies, of levying war against the Queen.
He was sentenced to transportation for life in Tasmania. In Hobart he carried on working as a tailor and remained actively involved in Tasmanian politics for twenty years. His wife was able to join him in 1853 and he was granted a free pardon in 1856. In 1870 he died a pauper in the workhouse.
William Cuffay s reputation during the Chartist years was immense, yet he was subsequently forgotten for over 130 years. This book aims to set him in his historical context and restore him to his rightful place as one of the key figures in British history.

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