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Metropolitan ‘Radicalism’ and Electoral Independence, 1760–1820

  • Matthew McCormack

Abstract

Late Georgian radicalism used to be regarded as an uncomplicated business. The period from John Wilkes’s noisy entry onto the political stage to Queen Caroline’s subdued exit was glorified by Whig and Marxist historians alike as being one in which political theory and participation were inexorably democratised. In contrast with the Victorian period, much of this ‘radical’ activity was focused upon London, which has tended to lend even greater coherence to historical accounts of the phenomenon. As we will see, the capital had a proud tradition of political heterodoxy and most scholars have been content that this provided the logical set of conditions for the emergence of radical politics. Furthermore, Georgian radicals themselves were mostly London-centric. Many moved in the same circles and even provincial radicals gravitated towards the capital for election campaigns, meetings and ceremonial dinners, often appearing together on our sources’ ubiquitous lists of attendees. Many subsequent commentators have bought into this co-ordinated picture, and the imposition of labels like ‘Westminster radicals’ has lent London radicalism — and Georgian radicalism itself — a unity that it may not in fact have possessed.

Keywords

Radical Politics Government Candidate Election Contest London Radical Victorian Period 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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© Matthew McCormack 2005

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  • Matthew McCormack

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