Unitarian confrontation with the late eighteenth-century political establishment is reflected in published sermons, pamphlets and parliamentary debates. Price and Priestly were only the most notorious members of a well-educated, close-knit and closely articulate intellectual opposition, all the more formidable for dominating the major literary reviews. Focusing on many lesser-known dissenting publicists, this study uncovers largely unacknowledged continuities in Unitarian critiques of government policies, and in Unitarian campaigns against government interference in matters of conscience. The French Revolution was attractive to Unitarians because the new French constitution, like the American Bill of Rights, broke the stranglehold of an opressive established church. Yet this new analysis questions whether Burke was justified in equating British antitrinitarians with French republicans, and suggests that the increasingly strident criticism of Pitt's wartime ministries might have been muted or even silenced, if the Unitarian Relief Bill had been passedin 1792 rather than 1813.
Focusing on many lesser-known dissenting polemicists, this study uncovers unexpected continuities in Unitarian critiques of government policies and questions whether Burke was justified in equating antitrinitarians with French republicans.
Preface Acknowledgements Introduction: Unequal Toleration PART I: GRAINS OF GUNPOWDER Denying the Trinity Opposing Subscription Predicting the Millennium PART II: PULPIT-POLITICS Essex Street: Lindsey, Disney and Belsham Gravel Pit and Old Jewry: Kippis, Price and Priestley Fasts and Thanksgivings PART III: UNDERMINING ESTABLISHMENTS Censuring Pitt Challenging Burke Campaigning for Peace PART IV: SPARKS OF SEDITION National Networks The Midlands and the North Norwich, Bristol and the South West Scottish Convict, Irish Exile PART V: EXPLOSIVE ECHOES 'Jacobin' Journalism Confronting Napoleon Conclusion: Transatlantic Connections List of abbreviations used in the notes Notes Bibliography
'In the great debate on the French Revolution, few characters were more vilified than 'Gunpowder Joe', the Unitarian, Joseph Priestley. In this lucid study, Stuart Andrews looks not only at the famous Priestley but at the nation-wide network to which he belonged. He guides us expertly through the Unitarian literature of protest, emphasising the long-standing religious convictions and grievances which fed a political rhetoric which Burke and others dismissed as 'Jacobinical'.' - John Walsh, Jesus College, Oxford.
Stuart Andrews is the author of five books including "The British periodical press and the French Revolution".