James O'Brien

(1805—1864) Chartist

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Dubbed ‘the schoolmaster of chartism’. An Irish barrister, O'Brien was the most theoretical of the chartists and might have rivalled O'Connor for the leadership but for his unstable personality. He advocated revolutionary action, including physical force if necessary. But after imprisonment in 1840 for seditious speaking, O'Brien concluded that force was impracticable, and supported a tactical alliance with middle‐class radicals. He broke with O'Connor and elaborated plans for socialism and land nationalization through a National Reform League (1850).

Subjects: British History — Economics.

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