Wikipedia:Today's featured article/August 16, 2008

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A painting of the Peterloo Massacre published by Richard Carlile

The Peterloo Massacre occurred at St Peter's Field, Manchester, England, on 16 August 1819, when cavalry charged into a crowd of 60–80,000 gathered at a meeting to demand the reform of parliamentary representation. The Manchester Patriotic Union, a group agitating for parliamentary reform, organised a demonstration to be addressed by the well-known radical orator Henry Hunt. Shortly after the meeting began, local magistrates called on the military to arrest Hunt and several others on the hustings with him, and to disperse the crowd. Cavalry charged into the crowd with sabres drawn, and in the ensuing confusion, 15 people were killed and 400–700 were injured, among them many women and children. The massacre was given the name Peterloo in ironic comparison to the Battle of Waterloo, which had taken place four years earlier. Historian Robert Poole has called the Peterloo Massacre one of the defining moments of its age. In its own time, the London and national papers shared the horror felt in the Manchester region, but Peterloo's immediate effect was to cause the government to crack down on reform, with the passing of what became known as the Six Acts. It also led directly to the foundation of The Manchester Guardian (now The Guardian), but had little other effect on the pace of reform. (more...)

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