If the factionalization of the 1780s allowed the coexistence in Bentley of both liberalism and libertarianism, the partisanship of the 1790s would force him into the political camp of one or the other. Unlike his liberal peers, Bentley would become a Democratic Republican, or, more loosely, a Jeffersonian. This shift began in 1785 with the arrival of William Hazlitt, an English Unitarian and member of the circle of English Rational Dissenters that moved around Joseph Priestley. Hazlitt convinced both Bentley and James Freeman, rector of Boston's King's Chapel, of Unitarianism (this was in fact the beginning of Bentley's Socinianism, a term used synonymously), and Bentley and Freeman began participating in a transatlantic network of disseminating Unitarian pamphlets into the public sphere. They met only casual resistance for the first few years, but then more rigorous resistance after the beginning of the French Revolution. After 1789, that is, Jacobinism and Unitarianism merged in the public mind, and supporters of one were linked with supporters of the other. In 1791 when a Church and King mob in Birmingham, England, destroyed Priestley's property, Bentley in Salem came to believe that the path to rational liberation was being blocked not so much by the ignorant masses themselves as by the liberal elites who were encouraging those masses.
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