First published in 1979, this book was the first, full-length study of working-class movements in London between 1800 and the beginnings of Chartism in the later 1830s. The leaders and rank and file in these movements were almost invariably artisans, and this book examines the position of the skilled artisan in politics.
Starting from the social ideals, outlook and the experience of the London artisan, Dr Prothero describes trade union, political, co-operative, educational and intellectual movements in the first forty years of the century. Setting a scene of alternating growth and contraction in trade, successive hostile governments and the increasing articulation of working-class consciousness the author shows that artisans could be no less militant, radical or anti-capitalist than other groups of working class men.
Table of Contents
Introduction; Part I: Artisans in War and Peace 1. The Man from Deptford 2. The London Artisan 3. The Apprenticeship Campaign 4. The End of the Wars Part II: Post-War Radical Politics 5. Gast the Radical 6. From Palace Yard to Cato Street 7. Queen Caroline Part III: Artisans in Boom and Depression 8. The Thames Shipwrights’ Provident Union 9. The Combination Laws 10. The Trades’ Newspaper and Francis Place 11. The Trades in Depression 12. The Benefit Societies’ Campaign 13. Co-operation Part IV: The Reform Crisis to Chartism 14. Reform 15. Trade Unionism and Radicalism 16. The Working Men’s Association 17. Into Chartism; Conclusion; Appendix: The Largest Trades; Notes; Bibliographical Note; Index
'Prothero's exceptionally fascinating and colourful Artisans and Politics... sheds much new light on popular social and intellectual attitudes in early nineteenth century London, in which the Thames shipwright, so conservative a group later in the century, were militant agents of radical change. It illuminates also that richly-textured cosmopolitan culture of British artisans at the time.' The Times Literary Supplement
'This is an outstanding book, and a superb work of scholarship... Only a fellow-historian who has worked in the same complex and contradictory sources can fully appreciate the remarkable - at times omniscient - scholarship and command evinced in chapter after chapter.
Each chapter constitutes an essay in interpretation which often entails the recovery of lost evidence and the revision of accepted accounts... [Prothero's] knowledge is immense, his judgement critical and alert.' E. P. Thompson, New Society