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Birmingham Political Union

Birmingham Political Union. Formed in 1830 by Thomas Attwood to press for parliamentary reform as a remedy for economic distress and inspired by the successful campaign for catholic emancipation. Led by local businessmen and manufacturers, the BPU aimed to unite middle- and working-class reformers in a programme of peaceful and orderly change based on currency reform and household suffrage. It rapidly became a preponderant factor in Birmingham political life; and as the Reform Bill crisis deepened, the BPU organized a series of huge reform demonstrations, becoming the pattern for similar political unions elsewhere. After the passing of the 1832 Reform Bill, the BPU fell apart and was virtually dissolved in 1834. A revival came in 1837, but the BPU was soon swallowed up by chartism, which possessed a more powerful working-class dynamic.

John F. C. Harrison

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