The objectives of the London Corresponding Society (LCS) were temperate in tone and relatively moderate in aspiration. The organisation campaigned largely on a platform of parliamentary reform by calling for annual parliaments and universal suffrage for all men. Members were drawn from ‘respectable’ and prosperous manufacturing trades such as tailors, shoemakers, printers and weavers, who were attracted to the organisation by low subscription costs and easy access to its meetings. The chief tactic of the society was to persuade ordinary working men and women to support parliamentary reform through non-violent ‘moral force’, to be achieved by issuing a torrent of publications. Between 1792 and 1798 the LCS published over 80 separate tracts outlining the case for reform, such as the example shown here.
The LCS nevertheless endured long periods of attack from the government. The organisation was infiltrated by spies and informers from its earliest days, and in May 1794 13 members were indicted for treason, three of whom stood trial. Thereafter the government implemented a sequence of Sedition and Treason Acts that effectively destroyed the society, by threatening arrest and imprisonment for outspoken critics of the state or crown.