This wood engraving celebrates the presentation of the Chartists’ Great National Petition of1842, which included 3,317,702 signatures and was written on a 6 mile length of paper. The Great National Petition was the largest of several Chartist petitions presented to Parliament.
The central image shows the Chartist procession through Whitehall with the petition. To the left is a meeting of ‘Members of the National [Chartist] Convention’. To the right, politician Thomas Slingsby Duncombe is seen presenting the petition to the House of Commons. Images of London architecture along the top and bottom of the print represent the route of the procession.
Between 26 March and 18 June 1842 ‘The Northern Star’ newspaper advertised that Chartist leader and founder of the paper Feargus Edward O'Connor planned to present subscribers with an engraving of the ‘Presentation of the Great National Petition to the House of Commons’. The plate would ultimately be issued to every subscriber, although in meeting this promise O’Connor did not commit himself to any particular timescale:
‘… the work will be one of such a character, and will need such careful attention on the part of the Engraver, as to defy anyone to fix an exact time.’
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