Radical Culture: Discourse, Resistance, and Surveillance, 1790-1829

Overview

England was a spy culture in the years 1790 through 1820. Restriction, regulation and surveillance formed the dominant discursive context. Ultra-radical artisans developed a discourse based on the revolutionary ideology of Thomas Spence which proposed the corporate ownership of land and the overthrow of the Government by physical force. The Spenceans were considered the most radical of the political groups active during this period, with William Blake, Jeremy Bentham, and Percy Shelley the best known of those ...
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Overview

England was a spy culture in the years 1790 through 1820. Restriction, regulation and surveillance formed the dominant discursive context. Ultra-radical artisans developed a discourse based on the revolutionary ideology of Thomas Spence which proposed the corporate ownership of land and the overthrow of the Government by physical force. The Spenceans were considered the most radical of the political groups active during this period, with William Blake, Jeremy Bentham, and Percy Shelley the best known of those spied upon for suspected Spencean activities. This book outlines the battle between repressive sedition laws and the radicals whose weapon was the written and spoken word. David Worrall explores the discursive context of the campaigns against sedition in the 1790s, Colonel Despard's intended coup of 1802, the Spa Fields rising of 1816, the planned Bartholomew Fair insurrection of 1817 and the debacle of the 1820 Cato Street conspiracy. He recovers a lost artisan culture recorded by the spies, moles and informers who infiltrated the organizations, debating clubs and taverns where radical speakers called for violent revolution, examining for the first time the speeches, conversations, songs, poems, pamphlets, letters, handbills, trials, interrogations, and arrests which constituted the resistance to the Government's regulation of discourse. Radical Culture features a sympathetic portrait of these revolutionaries gleaned almost entirely from the records of the government spies who helped put them in jail. Worrall brings to life the ultra radicals, dramatizing what they said, how they reacted under extreme conditions of arrest or impending execution, and even how the Government hounded them in their last hours of life.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
England was a spy culture in the years 1790 through 1820. Worrall explores the discursive context of the time, characterizing the radicals who battled repressive sedition laws and developed a discourse (based upon the ideology of Thomas Spence) which proposed the corporate ownership of land and the overthrow of the government by physical force. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814324523
  • Publisher: Wayne State University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1992
  • Pages: 246

Table of Contents

List of Figures
Preface
Introduction 1
1 Sedition and Articulacy in the 1790s 9
Thomas Spence's Arrest, 1792 9
'Mr. Reeves's Report on Sedition &c.' [1794] and Spence's Pamphlets 17
The Panton Street Debating Club, 1795 35
2 Resistance and the Conditions of Discourse in the Early 1800s 43
The 1800 London Bread Riots and William Blake 43
Spence's Sedition Trial, 1801 47
Colonel Despard's Treason Trial and Execution, 1802-3 53
William Blake's Indictment for Sedition, 1803 67
3 'A Free and Easy Society to Overthrow the Government': Post-War Spenceans 77
Two Spencean Activists: Thomas Preston and Allen Davenport 77
'Free and Easies' 89
4 Articulacy and Action 97
The Spa Fields Rising, 1816 97
The Revolutionary Planning for Bartholomew Fair, 1817 113
5 Some Ultra-Radicals 129
Robert Wedderburn, Man of Colour 129
E.J. Blandford, Revolutionary and Spencean Poet 146
6 Hopkins Street to Cato Street: Surveillance and Resistance, 1819-20 165
The 'Temple of Sedition' at Hopkins Street 165
Hopkins Street and Ultra-Radical Culture 178
The Cato Street Conspiracy as Ultra-Radical Culture 187
Conclusion 201
Notes 203
Bibliography 223
Index 229
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