The Trials of Benjamin Flower
This chapter examines the fate of progressive journalism across the 1790s, with a focus on Benjamin Flower, a critic of the Pitt ministry who edited the Cambridge Intelligencer from 1793 to 1803. Flower’s paper, labeled a radical “hell broth” by the Anti-Jacobin magazine, published early writings by Coleridge, Thelwall, Anna Barbauld, Henry Crabb Robinson, and many others. But after a half decade of oppositional journalism, Flower at last found himself in Newgate in 1799. While Lucyle Werkmeister and others have explored newspaper culture in the early years of the decade, this chapter focuses on the status of the press in the post-Gagging Acts era. Tracking the plight of Flower and his influential newspaper as the government’s surveillance and intimidation tactics became more aggressive and more focused, it examines the narrowing scope of activity available to oppositional journalists in the later 1790s.
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