In June 1871, George Odger, a London trade unionist, suffrage campaigner and shoemaker, spoke at the inaugural meeting of the Newcastle Republican Society at the Lecture Room in Nelson Street. In a speech entitled ‘The Government of the People, by the People, and for the People’, Odger stated that one could not put a finger ‘upon a single page in history that afforded proof of anything worthy of a minute’s thought that the monarchy had done’ for the working classes of England. Odger, who at this point in his career was advocating both republicanism and land nationalisation, then turned to an aristocracy that ‘not only appropriated the land’, but had also ‘claimed the waters, the game and the minerals’. The meeting took place at a moment of particularly fevered political activity, both in Newcastle and Europe more generally. The radical experiment of the Paris Commune – an event that had attracted considerable support from radicals and middle-class republicans – had just collapsed, and in August 1871 striking Durham miners, liberals and members of the International Working Men’s Association would campaign for the nine-hour day and government protection from 'the unfeeling avarice of employers'. This period has been described by historian Margot Finn, in her book After Chartism, as a moment when ‘both the liberal and labour radical traditions’ in British and Newcastle politics could meet on the same platform.
M. Finn, After Chartism: Class and Nation in English Radical Politics, 1848-1874 (Cambridge, 1993), pp. 293-4; The Evening Gazette [Middlesbrough], 26 June 1871; Newcastle Weekly Chronicle, 17 June 1871; F. M. Leventhal, ‘Odger, George (1813-1877), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004), online edition, accessed 2 July 2015.