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The social and political thought of John Horne Tooke, 1736-1812

Brotherson, Gregory W. (1992) The social and political thought of John Horne Tooke, 1736-1812. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to examine the role of John Horne Tooke in the radical political movement in Britain, from the early 1760s to 1812. A product of eighteenth-century British Enlightenment, Horne Tooke was an ingenious thinker whose career spanned some fifty years. Therefore a balanced study of the ideas which supported his political position, and how it changed over time, to some extent reflects the development of radicalism in the late eighteenth century.

The emphasis is upon Horne Tooke's political experiences as a civic humanist and his conversion to utilitarianism via a moment of Jacobinism in the 1790s. His career is followed from when he entered politics as an activist and organizer on behalf of Wilkes in the 1760s. Burnt in effigy by the London mob following his public brawl with Wilkes over ideological differences, he continued to develop as a civic humanist in his own right. As the principal organizer of a public protest in London on behalf of the colonists during the war of American Independence, he was imprisoned for his democratic ideal ism. During the French revolution he sided with the French Jacobins, causing such a constitutional crisis for the British government that he was tried for treason. Between 1792 and 1799 he was engaged in furthering the subversive republican objectives of the Anglo-Irish in London, and he was extremely lucky not to have been caught. In 1801 he entered Parliament, and a special Act was devised by his peers to have him barred. Unperturbed, he returned to the extra-parliamentary scene where he was joined by Sir Francis Burdett and together they resurrected Burdett's flagging political career on a platform of radical reform, a movement thought to have been extinguished by Pitt's "Reign of Terror" during the 1790s. In the first decade of the nineteenth century Horne Tooke remained the focal point around which the London radicals converged as they unwittingly prepared the way for the utilitarians who followed after his death in 1812.

Horne Tooke destroyed all his personal papers shortly before he died. thus assuring that no comprehensive biography of his life is likely ever to be written. Fortunately, however, sufficient personal memoirs and manuscripts in various research collections remain, which have been used as the basis of this thesis. I confirm that this thesis is the product of my own research and writing.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: repository@murdoch.edu.au. Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Durey, Michael
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/52989
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