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All the conspirators could read, and most could write, more or less. Radical newspapers and tavern trade clubs and societies provided their political education. ’Low’ radicals in regency London were as deeply influenced by the agrarian socialist Thomas Spence as by Tom Paine, but, either way, their values drew on Enlightenment. They believed in the people’s right to resist oppression, and some hoped for the redistribution of landed property throughout the kingdom. Spence propagated his ideas through slogans, songs, graffiti, and tokens as well as pamphlets and books; and after his death in 1814 they were propagated through the Society of Spencean Philanthropists and Wedderburn’s ‘chapel’ in Soho, to both of which key conspirators belonged.
In this concluding chapter, I consider how the development of a particular attachment to the founding has shaped constitutional development in the United States and how an alterative grounding in the constitutional thought of Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson might provide intellectual resources for a renewed democratic constitutionalism in contemporary American politics.
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