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Aberdeen Climate Action was founded in 2014 with the aim of raising awareness of climate change and to prompt action towards carbon reduction and living sustainably. The inaugural event was a photographic competition and the group run a regular Climate Café featuring guest speakers.

References: website.

Sources: unknown.

Campaign for Socialism is a Scottish left-wing group of Labour Party members, originally founded in 1994, as part of the campaign for the retention of Clause 4 in the constitution. In 2017 the group agreed a joint membership scheme with Momentum (which was founded in 2015).

The Aberdeen group was formed in 2015.

References: website.

Sources: unknown.

A society that formed in July 1971 as a branch of the national Conservation Society, which had been formed in London in 1966 (and prior to Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace). The society took action on issues such as the husbandry of natural resources, the avoidance of pollution and also family planning and population. The President was Dr Dugald Baird. The society also ran adult education classes on relevant topics.

The national society existed until 1987.

References: Aberdeen Press and Journal.

Sources: unknown. There are some papers of the national body held at Sheffield City Archives.

A society formed in Aberdeen around 1958 with University of Aberdeen lecturer Margaret Knight as the driving force (she was President). She was a speaker at many group events alongside guest speakers such as Dr Dugald Baird and Labour M.P. Robert Hughes.

There was also at the same time a society at Aberdeen University.

Related entries: Aberdeen University Humanist Society and Margaret Knight.

References: Aberdeen Press and Journal.

Sources: unknown.

Tree of Liberty

434px-Tree_of_libertyAberdeen has traditionally been viewed as a rather conservative area, and following the French Revolution, although there were sympathetic individuals, it would appear there was no formal branch of the Friends of the People established. There were organisations active all over Scotland, in nearby Dundee, Montrose and St Cyrus, and those groups sent delegates to the 1st Friends Convention in December 1792. Most notable was the group in Dundee, where there was a very active Dundee Friends of Liberty. There was an earlier group in Portsoy, Banffshire, called the Portsoy Universal Liberty Club. This group formed in January 1792 and appear to have been active until mid-1792. It corresponded with the Jacobin Club in France, submitted an abolition of the slave trade petition and stated its aims: “…to correspond with other Clubs and Societies throughout the world, on the glorious cause of Liberty; the Rights of Man; a just free and equal representation, in Parliament; the abolition of the Slave Trade, and other disgraceful and oppressive laws existing in Great Britain”.

At this time a symbolic and defiant act was the planting of a tree ‘of liberty’. Inspired by the American Revolution, during the French Revolution, a tree was planted wherever the French troops established themselves. The tree was garnished with garlands and emblems, as a symbol of renewal and liberation. Trees were planted all across Scotland and were often accompanied by crowd disturbances of some kind. A tree was planted in Aberdeen in 1792 and there are also records of other trees being erected across Scotland, in Dundee, Fochabers and Stonehaven. For example, in Dundee in November 1792, rioters erected a tree with the scroll ‘Liberty, Equality and No Sinecures’ and decorated it with apples and lights.

References: Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires Preserved in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, volume VII, 1793 – 1800 (M. Dorothy George, London, 1942), Popular Disturbances in Scotland 1780 – 1815 (Kenneth Logue, J. Donald, Edinburgh, 1979), Scotland and the French Revolution (Henry William Meikle, J Maclehose & Sons, Glasgow, 1912) and Scottish Society 1707 – 1830: Beyond Jacobitism (Chris Whatley, Manchester University Press, 2000).

Chartism grew out of disillusionment at the failure of the First Reform Act of 1832 and the limited impact it had had in achieving political and social reform. Beginning in 1838 the Chartist movement was Britain wide and demanded six points: votes for all men over 21, vote by secret ballot, no property qualification for prospective members of parliament, payment of members of parliament, constituencies of equal size and annual parliaments. The Chartist movement existed through a number of phases following the petitioning of Parliament in 1838, 1842 and 1848. By the beginning of the 1850s the Chartists had adopted a political programme which was openly socialist.

The Aberdeen Charter Union was a branch of the National Charter Association (which had been established in mid-1840 in an attempt to unite together all previous local groups). The Aberdeen Union following on from the Aberdeen Working Men’s Association and the key personnel were mainly male artisans: the Chairman was John Legge, a stonemason and there was also Archibald McDonald, flaxdresser.

Later, the Chairman was John MacPherson, a combmaker. The Union from 1841 rented a hall in George Street, and in 1842, bought premises in Blackfriars Street for use as a political and educational centre.

Related entries: Aberdeen Female Radical Association, Aberdeen Working Men’s Association and William Lindsay, bookseller.

Popular radicalism and working class movements in Aberdeen c.1790-1850 (Robert Duncan, University of Aberdeen thesis, 1976), ‘Artisans and proletarians: Chartism and working class allegiance in Aberdeen, 1838 – 1842 (Robert Duncan, Northern Scotland, 1981), ‘Chartism in Aberdeen: Radical Politics and Culture’ (Robert Duncan, Covenant, Charter, and Party: Traditions of Revolt and Protest in Modern Scottish History, Terry Brotherstone (ed.), Aberdeen University Press, 1989) and ‘Chartism in Aberdeen’ (Stuart McCalman, Journal of Scottish Labour History Society, 1970)

Sources: unknown.

Chartism grew out of disillusionment at the failure of the First Reform Act of 1832 and the limited impact it had had in achieving political and social reform. Beginning in 1838 the Chartist movement was Britain wide and demanded six points: votes for all men over 21, vote by secret ballot, no property qualification for prospective members of parliament, payment of members of parliament, constituencies of equal size and annual parliaments. The Chartist movement existed through a number of phases following the petitioning of Parliament in 1838, 1842 and 1848. By the beginning of the 1850s the Chartists had adopted a political programme which was openly socialist.

The Aberdeen Working Men’s Association was a local organisation formed in July 1838, based on the model of the London Working Men’s Association. The President was John Mitchell, shoemaker, then newsagent and stationer (he sold chartist literature). Mitchell’s shop in Correction Wynd was for a time the base for the Association (later the Chartists rented premises at 41 Queen Street). The Secretary of the Association was John Fraser, shoemaker. Other members of the Association committee were mainly male artisans, such as John Legge, stonemason, and Archibald McDonald, flaxdresser. The Association like other organisations across Britain were charged with gathering names for the national petition. The Association also published its own news-sheet, the Aberdeen Patriot, and later another title called the Northern Vindicator.

The Association published a pamphlet in c.1838 outlining their grievances and objects/rules. It called on men: “to unite in demanding Universal Suffrage, Vote by Ballot, Annual Parliaments, as the most effectual means of promoting the moral and social improvements of the Working Classes”. The pamphlet also emphasised that the working classes should unite as one, and not depend any longer on those ‘who style themselves our “superiors” co-operating with us’. A key element of the Association was educational improvement, and the pamphlet called for a national system of education, noted the influence of the Mechanics’ Institutions and stated an object was to remove laws which prevented free circulation of thought through the medium of a ‘cheap and honest press’.

The Association split in May 1839, following a national trend, whereby Chartists supporters were divided over which tactics to use to achieve their goal, either by moral or by physical force. The outcome was that the President John Mitchell resigned and formed his own splinter group, The Artisans’ Association.

Related entries: Aberdeen Charter Union, Aberdeen Female Radical Association and William Lindsay, bookseller.

Address to the Working Classes by the Aberdeen Working Men’s Association: Together with the Objects and Rules of the Association (unknown, Aberdeen, undated, c.1838), Popular radicalism and working class movements in Aberdeen c.1790-1850 (Robert Duncan, University of Aberdeen thesis, 1976), ‘Artisans and proletarians: Chartism and working class allegiance in Aberdeen, 1838 – 1842 (Robert Duncan, Northern Scotland, 1981), ‘Chartism in Aberdeen: Radical Politics and Culture’ (Robert Duncan, Covenant, Charter, and Party: Traditions of Revolt and Protest in Modern Scottish History, Terry Brotherstone (ed.), Aberdeen University Press, 1989) and ‘Chartism in Aberdeen’ (Stuart McCalman, Journal of Scottish Labour History Society, 1970)

Sources: Address to the Working Classes by the Aberdeen Working Men’s Association: Together with the Objects and Rules of the Association (unknown, Aberdeen, undated, c.1838).