How Serious Was the Radical Threat Facing Pitt in the Period from 1789 – 1801?
How serious was the Radical threat facing Pitt in the period from 1789 – 1801?
After the French Revolution broke out in 1989, there was a large growth in radicalism throughout Britain. This went in the form of groups of people such as Jacobins and Girondins, for example, Thomas Paine and radical societies, the largest one being the London Corresponding Society. However, although there was a certain threat facing Pitt from groups like these, it has been argued that many of these groups lacked effective leadership and failure to gain popular support, and this ultimately led to the Radical threat being hardly a threat at all, although it was indeed taken seriously by Pitts Government.
Initially, Pitt thought the French Revolution might bring political advantages by weakening French colonial ambitions, whilst others thought it might lead to reform in Britain. Undoubtedly, it caused widespread debate among British society, and this caused British reformers to react. In November 1790, Edward Burke published his ‘reflections on the revolution; displaying his opinion that any state that did not embrace change would lose the ability to conserve itself. This prompted Thomas Pain to publish ‘Rights of man in reply, which was very influential, and put forward the simple message that each generation has the right to establish its own system of government and the government feared that this message would spread outside the usual propertied circle to artisans and the common people, and this was most definitely a threat as it was distributed in cheap editions and widely discussed.
The London Corresponding Society was potentially the biggest threat facing Pitt. It was formed by Thomas Hardy in 1792, and it appealed to working people, and its membership was largely from the working classes. It was well organised, it was divided into branches that met weekly, and each branch sent two