Letter from James Bronterre O'Brien to Robert Owen

Scope and Content

Manuscript letter, in which O'Brien advises Owen to model his soon to be formed London Association [at Gray's Inn Road] along the lines of the Birmingham Political Union - a matter of "utmost importance" O'Brien believes.

O'Brien, working from an idea put forward by Mr [William] Pare, and having been convinced by the energy and zeal of his "brother Co-operators", believes the public are well prepared to pay attention to their cause. Through "judicious organisation" a new public opinion" can be swayed in their favour, and he believes such organisation has been shown in the "Constitution of the Birmingham [Political] Union".

O'Brien discusses at length the importance of public opinion; he believes that governments have no other basis of support, and therefore it is of "vital importance" to gather this opinion and "concentrate it on the Social System". Owen's Gray's Inn Road association should be formed of a "more popular character".

O'Brien offers Owen detailed advice on the best method of launching his new association. Once the "intoxication of delight" manifest following the passing of the Reform Bill has subsided a large public meeting should be called. At this meeting, the reasons for forming the Society should be laid out in a carefully constructed document before individuals of "all classes". All those willing to pay 1s per quarter are to be admitted as members, therefore ensuring an "attendance of great numbers of the working classes" and if properly arranged it should be possible to achieve "5 to 10,000 members".

Further detailed discussion relating to the setting-up of the association follows, before O'Brien closes by informing Owen of his intentions to publish a weekly newspaper in London to advocate the "new system of Society"; considerable support for this venture has been secured by O'Brien.

Note

Stamped number: 546

Geographical Names