Date of this Version
Thesis (M.A.)—University of Nebraska—Lincoln, 1950. Department of History.
Examples of the way in which an organized society reacts to a threat against its continuance are recurring phenomenon of recent centuries.This is an attempt to bring together the available facts concerning one facet of such a reaction; the reaction of the English Parliament between 1792 and 1802 against the threat to England contained in the French Revolution.
This attempt has been made with the thought that today, a time of peril and strife and a time that desperately needs peace and understanding, we can possibly gain a greater insight into the actions of our government and its attempts to dispel from our shores those ideologies and principles which we hold as diametrically opposed to our way of life by looking back and studying the experience of a nation acting under comparable circumstances.While there have been many people faced with similar invasions of revolutionary principles and even actual physical invasion, yet a study of the reaction of the English, with their government stemming from the same roots as ours and with their ideal of the liberties of Englishmen; habeas corpus, jury trial, freedom of association and freedom of the press, would be pertinent today.
This is not intended in any way to bring together all materials.The arguments used by members of parliament in advocating and opposing specific legislation have been summarized.Major events in international politics preceding the introduction of a bill have been mentioned.No attempt has been made to estimate the truth of government’s estimate of danger or opposition’s derision of danger and claims of hunger for power on the part of public officials.An attempt has been made to bring together a complete description of the laws enacted by Parliament in this period of upheaval.Methods of trial and punishments provided have been included.Little attempt has been made to treat the use made by the government of the powers it was given or of the effectiveness of the statutes.English society was changed by evolution rather than revolution.Parliamentary legislation can at most have been only one of many factors accounting for this.
Advisor: G. W. Gray