This article investigates propaganda deployed in support of the Covenanting revolution in Scotland during the Bishops' Wars (1638–40). It attempts to broaden the category of ‘British’ history by focusing on discourse instead of high politics, and analyses printed tracts – complemented by select manuscript sources – to reconstruct the Covenanters' theoretical approach to creating an English public to support their cause. The novelty of the ‘explosion’ of print in England in the 1640s is now widely acknowledged, and numerous books and articles have argued about whether or not this constituted a public sphere. This article, however, presupposes a ‘space’ for public debate and focuses instead on the conceptual framework driving Covenanter appeals. It concludes that the Covenanters believed that rational debate in a public forum would expose truth, which would naturally persuade the English people to support their cause and, in turn, pressure the king into making the desired concessions. But this was not how the actual English public functioned: there was an important disparity between the theory of godly rational debate and the reality of a rather ‘wild’, competing, and self-interested plurality of publics.