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To what extent was the weakness of the radicals the cause of Pitt surviving the revolutionary threat to his government?

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Introduction

To what extent was the weakness of the radicals the cause of Pitt surviving the revolutionary threat to his government? Certainly the weakness of the radicals was one of the main reasons behind Pitt surviving the revolutionary threat to his government but this is not to say that was the only reason. Along with the radical groups being rather weak, there was a large opposition to them. There were large numbers of riots organised against the radicals by conservatives. The general feeling in Britain was that of anti-radicalism, this feeling deepened as the revolution went on in France and was heavily escalated during the terror. Pitt wielded the majority conservative population to his advantage and passed bills which helped to prevent radicals meeting and holding large demonstrations. Radical groups had begun to emerge in 1791, they were rather weak then but by 1793 they were becoming a cause for concern. They were expanding and multiplying spreading their literature in the form of newsletters. There were a large number of radical groups but the member count of each group was rather low. ...read more.

Middle

Burke increasingly gained support as he was proved right. Most people stopped endorsing the Revolution as it became violent and became conservative and reactionary. The exceptions were Paine, Fox, their supporters and the extremists. The threat of radicals was exaggerated, they were small uncoordinated groups, and each group had its own goals and ideals and varied in the level of radicalism. Pitt still saw these groups as a threat and as such had to take action. Pitt could not just give into the radical groups as it would have portrayed the government as being weak. Pitt had to stop them meeting in inns and other public places. To achieve this Pitt passed a number of acts. In 1794 he suspended Habeas Corpus, this meant that people could be arrested and be kept captive for any amount of time without a reason or a chance of a fair trial. For Pitt this meant that he could arrest the leaders of the radical groups and keep them "locked up" for any amount of time without a reason or a chance of a fair trial. ...read more.

Conclusion

These clubs were supported by the middle classes, especially the Pittites. Anti-Radical literature vastly outsold the radical literature, a rather cheap pro-government track written by Hannah Moore sold 2 million copies; outselling Thomas Paine by 4:1, this showed that the overall support for radicals was rather low. The extreme anti-radical segment of the population joined the voluntary militia; there were over 400,000 volunteers in Great Britain which was over double the amount in the army. Religion also played a major part in the anti-radical feeling amongst the general population, a vast majority of the population was loyal to the church and thus the repression of the church in France was rather unpopular. The church became a pivotal defence for Pitt's government. Overall the weakness of the radical threat was one of the main reasons that Pitt and his government survived the period of revolution, but even if the radicals had been stronger, the acts introduced by Pitt and the support of the population and the church would have ensured the survival of the government. His reforms would have meant that large gatherings could not take place and if things did get out of hand he could always rely on the voluntary militia for support. ...read more.

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