The London Corresponding Society was founded by attorney John Frost and radical shoemaker Thomas Hardy on 25th January 1792, both of whom decided that the time was right for working men to have the vote. The single most important aim of the Society was to force reform on the British parliament, including far greater representation of the working classes. In addition, the learned members of the group loudly and vociferously opposed the government on a number of points, as did their affiliate groups throughout the land.
|London Corresponding Society handbill, 1793|
The Society sought similar like-minded groups through England and slowly but surely began to grow in size and followers until, within 18 months, 6000 people had signed a petition in support of the aims of the LCS.
Finally the government had had its fill of these opponents and raided a convention of group leaders in Edinburgh in October 1793, arresting a number of attendees and trying them for treason. Whilst some members were transported as a result, Frost was only imprisoned for six months and the intervention did little to deter the members of the Society, who turned their attention to periodicals.
|London Corresponding Society, alarm's' by James Gillray, 1798|
|Corresponding Society Meeting by James Gillray, 1795|
By 1798 small groups were forming away from the main Society and though it struggled on for some time, the successful passage of the Corresponding Societies Act in 1799 proved the last nail in the coffin. The Act effectively outlawed any further meeting of the LCS and the Society and its affiliated groups faded into history, though their ideals and aims lived on in those who had been members.