Give us our rights!


One of the most immediate effects of the French Revolution in Britain was to foster support for domestic political reform at home. Opposition Whig politicians in particular, such as Charles James Fox and Edmund Burke, initially took heart from events across the channel, and foresaw the possibility of similar political changes in the British political structure. As Britain engaged in war with France, however, and the true extent of the bloodshed became known, these responses changed. Edmund Burke, in particular, rejected the revolutionary nature of events in France and argued that only gradual political change would secure a long-term political settlement in Britain.

The tract shown here highlights the chief complaints of pro-reformers in the 1790s, namely corruption in parliament and the lack of universal representation within the voting system. In light of the Loyalist response to war with France, and the government’s crackdown on sedition, reformers were careful not to appear too revolutionary in their demands. Temperate measures such as universal voting rights and more regular parliamentary elections were considered to be the necessary measures required to safe-guard ‘English Liberties’.

Full title:
Give us our rights! Or an address to the people of Britain, clearly demonstrating, that those rights are universal suffrage, annual parliaments, and the freedom of popular association
estimated 1792, London
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Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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