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The United IrishmenPopular Politics in Ulster and Dublin, 1791–1798$
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Nancy J. Curtin

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198207368

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198207368.001.0001

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Literary Mischief

Literary Mischief

(p.174) 7 Literary Mischief
The United Irishmen

Nancy J. Curtin

Oxford University Press

The literary productions of the republicans reflected the gradual democratization of political culture during the last third of the eighteenth century in the British Isles. The Wilkite radicals of the 1760s exploited the press, newspapers, pamphlets, broadsheets, and caricatures to create a climate of public opinion sympathetic to their champion, John Wilkes. The radicals were creating a national political culture by arguing for the existence of an extensive political nation. The late eighteenth century witnessed a conflict between two political nations: the narrowly defined one countenanced by the ruling oligarchy, and the extensive one imagined by the radical challengers. The popular fury carefully cultivated by the republican leaders was triggered by the government's counter-terror campaign in the countryside, but it was the United Irishmen who provided the ammunition.

Keywords:   John Wilkes, Wilkite radicals, ruling oligarchy, political information, political dissemination, print industry

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