1820 - The Radical War
The Scottish Radicals of the 1790s and 1820 are not forgotten, despite the best attempts of a British state to rewrite or hide our history.
Many of the communities around Glasgow in the 1790s were literate and given to meeting and discussing politics and social conditions. Inspired by the American Revolution and the principles of representative Government they would have been discussing Robert Burns and Tom Paine,and found insights into the 'Rights of Man' and the principles of the French Revolution (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity).
Documents and publications publicising the principles and objectives of the Revolutions would have been distributed, and in 1793, Thomas Fysshe Palmer, a Unitarian minister was given 7 years transportation for preparing and distributing such tracts.
Unrest continued, and in 1798 George Mealmaker a member of the underground organisations 'The Friends of Liberty' and 'The United Scotsmen' was transported for 14 years, for 'planning to establish a Republican Government'.
In 1812 a nine week widespread strike by weavers alarmed the authorities enough to set up a network of spies and informers to ward off any reformist revival.
In 1819, a reform meeting in Manchester was dispersed by military force and the deaths at 'Peterloo' provoked demonstrations in Scotland. Rioting in Paisley resulted in the use of cavalry to control some 5000 of these 'Radicals', as they became known.
The government through its agents, became aware of plans to establish a Provisional Government, separate Scotland from England and restore a Scottish Parliament. The government then had the Committee arrested. This was kept secret from the Committee's supporters and agents, who were then manipulated into open rebellion in the belief that the day of liberty had come, where (like the Covenanters of the 1670s) they were identified and crushed.
Acting in such a way the governments agent provocateurs identified the reformers and
following marches at Strathaven and Stirling, dealt with them. Such action provoked widespread anger and crowds in Greenock succeeded, after several casualties, in freeing some of the arrested radicals.
They were however recaptured and stood trial for treason.
James Wilson - hung and beheaded, Glasgow Green, 30 Aug 1820
John Baird - hung and beheaded, Stirling, 8 Sep 1820
Andrew Hardie - hung and beheaded, Stirling, 8 Sep 1820
Originally sentenced to death, but subsequently commuted to transportation to New South Wales were:
John Anderson, John Barr, William Clackson or Clarkson, James Clelland, Andrew Dawson, Robert Gray, Alexander Hart, Alexander Johnson, Alexander Latimer, Thomas McCulloch, Thomas McFarlane, John McMillan, Benjamin Moir, Allan Murchie, Thomas Pike or Pink, William Smith, David Thompson, Andrew White and James Wright
There is a full and detailed account of the The 1820 Rising in James Halliday's book, available from Scots Independent Newspapers.
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