Radical Political Groups
London served as a useful site for political radicals, providing them with a place to exchange ideas with each other and inform others of various causes. Many radical political groups formed for this specific purpose. One such group was the London Corresponding Society. This group was formed in 1792 by artisans who sought parliamentary reform, opposing such events as the war on France. Overall, the group was concerned with the rights of working-class citizens, and wished to find ways that these individuals could oppose the aristocracy who depended upon them to perform necessary labor but denied them basic individual rights. The group, it would seem, was all too effective at spreading their message, as they faced nearly constant pressure from the British government, which even resorted to placing spies in the group. The government passed the Seditious Meetings Act in order make political groups such as this one illegal. Because of this act, several members of the group were arrested. However, the group continued until 1799. Poet William Blake was known to attend meetings of political groups and was influenced by the discussion of the government's exploitation of the country's citizens, although Blake, with his emphasis on passion and imagination, would depart somewhat from the rationalistic, enlightenment- influenced philosophy of many of these groups. These concerns are most clear in Blake's poems that deal with oppression in the city of London.
Romantic Metropolis. Eds. James Chandler and Kevin Gilmartin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
Thompson, E.P. The Making of the English Working Class. New York: Vintage, 1966.