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The Majesty of the PeoplePopular Sovereignty and the Role of the Writer in the 1790s$
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Georgina Green

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199689064

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199689064.001.0001

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The Right of Resistance and the People out of Doors

The Right of Resistance and the People out of Doors

(p.16) (p.17) 1 The Right of Resistance and the People out of Doors
The Majesty of the People

Green Georgina

Oxford University Press

Beginning with a discussion of the Duke of Norfolk’s infamous 1798 toast to ‘the Majesty of the People’, the first chapter focuses on British debates about the constitutional status of the people in relationship to their representation (or otherwise) in Parliament. Do the people have any political existence ‘out of doors’? In the 1760s and 1770s, John Wilkes’ exclusion from parliament brought debates about the idea of the people’s right to resistance and extraparliamentary existence to the fore, but these debates go back to the 1688 English Revolution or Brunswick succession and the constitutional conflicts of the mid-seventeenth century. Contesting the legitimacy of 1790s’ conventions of the people associated with Joseph Gerrald and the London Corresponding Society, Edmund Burke denied that 1688 demonstrated the people’s right of resistance, while Charles James Fox argues that the Brunswick succession can be legitimated on no other grounds.

Keywords:   British constitution, 1688, Burke, Charles James Fox, London Corresponding Society, conventionism, Joseph Gerrald, John Wilkes, Brunswick succession, Parliament

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