view of Cato Street.PNG
view of Cato Street.PNG

Details

In the winter of 1819-1820, following Peterloo and the clear resolution of the Government to resist all reform, a strand of insurrectionist radicalism emerged that operated largely underground, although some of the leaders were those who had been in the break-away sections of the 2 December 1816 Spa Fields meeting that went to attack the Bank of England but were quickly dealt with. A range of plans were discussed, with the guards at the Bank being watched to judge the most favourable time for an assault; but the settled plan became to use a dinner of the Cabinet as the occasion for a bombing and an attack. As part of the preparations for the attack, it was agreed to prepare a statement for release when the group overthrew the government. Two versions of this remain. The first draft ran:

'Englishmen
Justice is triumphant, and your Tyrants are destroyed, a glorious destiny awaits your patriotic endeavours a Provisional Government is appointed to succeed the Oligarchy which have for more than 100 years enslaved and borne you down. Obedience to the Decrees of the Prov. Government will insure to each Individual the full enjoyment of his property and Protection – and as a Guarantee for the Amelioration of the conditions of our Country it is decreed that every act passed by the Borough Mongering Usurpation shall from and after this date cease to be obeyed as such – but to afford an [239r] opportunity for the people to adopt a Government congenial to their feelings and the interest of their posterity it desired that measures will be adopted to form in one month from this date a convention of the presentative delegacy the right of voting in all males having attained the age of 21 years. Such of the Army who join the Ranks of their Country receive an addition or part advancement according to merit. Those who wish to return to their Families are called on to deposit their Arms for [240/] which they shall immediately be paid in the most liberal manner.'

This draft then seems to have been further edited by Dr James Watson, who removed the last section respecting the military and made other changes. Thistlewood also solicited responses among the main participants, asking them to submit them in code on slips of paper, although he subsequently complained that he could not read what they had sent.

A second draft read:

'Justice is at last triumphant, your Tyrants are destroyed
A glorious destiny awaits your patriotic Energies - a Provisional Government is appointed to guard you from the Evils and Wrongs of a vile + wicked Oligarchy that has for more than Century enslaved + borne you down by the most partial [/244v] and oppressive manner.
Obedience to the Decrees of the Prov. Government will ensure to each Individual protection of persons and property
United Britains and Irishmen Civil and religious liberty is decreed.
The acts of the Borough Mongering Usurpations shall from hence forward cease to have any effect.
The People are called on to form that System of Government most congenial to their feelings and the best interest of Posterity.'

The aim was to ensure that this was printed before the attack - but there are no printed versions in the papers of either the Home Office or the Treasury Solicitor.

These declarations, if they were not in fact the product of the agent provocateur George Edwards, leave little doubt as to the group's intentions.

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