As reformers awaited the news from Westminster, several bitter arguments began in the North. An operative, George Crabtree, told Oastler of the cruelties, victimisation and Truck systems of the Calder Dale mills, noted while organising ‘Ten Hours’ meetings at Ripponden, Sowerby Bridge, Hebden Bridge, Heptonstall, Todmorden, Mytholmroyd, Ovenden and Southowram. Several clergy had supported him, but he witnessed ‘more misery and wretchedness … than he … thought existed in the whole British Empire’.1 In July angry masters answered Crabtree’s ‘misrepresentations and lies’ and attacked Oastler, the Rev. Thomas Crowther and ‘the Parson System’ and Oastler’s ‘Corn Law rents and Corn Law salary’. Oastler soon accepted the challenge of the anonymous ‘Tyrants and Cowards’ to prove his allegations, if witnesses’ employment were guaranteed. The employers then attacked Oastler’s Protectionism and blamed him for the high Halifax tithes.2 This odd perversion of Oastler’s anti-tithe campaign of 1827 was answered by Joseph Woodhall, the Bradford committee chairman. He also opposed Protection3

But is it proved that the labourer would be assured of greater plenty, if no Corn Laws existed ? No! If Corn were cheaper, wages would be lower.


Corn Mercury Manifold Assure Defend 


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  1. 52.
    J. W. Croker: Correspondence and Diaries (ed. L. J. Jennings, 1884), II, 337.Google Scholar
  2. 73.
    T. H. Duncombe: Life and Correspondence of T. S. Duncombe (1868), I, 194.Google Scholar

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© J. T. Ward 1962

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