In modern critical imagination, Richard Steele is almost always seen as Joseph Addison's friend and collaborator, as half of the periodical essay-writing team devoted to the promotion of civility, urbanity, and a moral and well-mannered lifestyle. Scholars focus almost exclusively on the Tatler, the Spectator, and Steele's sentimental drama, The Conscious Lovers (1722), virtually ignoring his substantial canon of party journalism and pamphlets. Partly because of Steele's bitter and extensive quarrel with Jonathan Swift—or because most scholars assume that Swift got the best of him—he is now rarely taken seriously as a political player in late Stuart and early Hanoverian England. This essay focuses on Steele the party writer—and especially on his attitude toward religio-political authority and the sanctity of vox populi. Though Steele is now described as (like Addison) “not so enthusiastic about the potential for public politics,” he was for excellent reasons regarded by contemporaries as a writer not only trying to politicize the people but actually succeeding in doing so. This essay attempts to recontextualize Steele's polemical contributions; he has been read alongside Addison and other Whig wits, but he rarely figures in discussions of the history of political ideas in early eighteenth-century England, in discussions of debates about authority, resistance, and the nature of obligation, about public religion and liberty of conscience, the political implications of heterodoxy, and the use of reason as a challenge to dogmatic clerical authority.