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Peter Porcupine in America : pamphlets on republicanism and revolution

Author: William Cobbett; David A Wilson
Publisher: Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1994.
Series: Documents in American social history.
Edition/Format:   Print book : Biography : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Peter Porcupine was the pseudonym for William Cobbett, the most widely read pamphleteer and journalist in the early American republic. Known for his malicious humor and venomous pen portraits of his political enemies, Cobbett dismissed Benjamin Franklin as a "whoremaster, a hypocrite, and an infidel," and he greeted the news that the Scottish democrat Thomas Muir had lost an eye in a naval battle with the words "So
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Genre/Form: Biography
Sources
Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Cobbett, William, 1763-1835.
Peter Porcupine in America.
Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1994
(OCoLC)622944196
Named Person: William Cobbett; William Cobbett; William Cobbett; William Cobbett
Material Type: Biography
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: William Cobbett; David A Wilson
ISBN: 0801428394 9780801428395
OCLC Number: 29258741
Description: xiv, 288 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Contents: Observations on the emigration of Dr. Joseph Priestly --
A bone to gnaw, for the Democrats --
A kick for a bite --
The bloody buoy --
The life and adventures of Peter Porcupine --
Hsitory of the American Jacoins --
Pen portraits --
Direction of a conspiracy --
Farewell address.
Series Title: Documents in American social history.
Responsibility: William Cobbett ; edited with an introduction by David A. Wilson.

Abstract:

Peter Porcupine was the pseudonym for William Cobbett, the most widely read pamphleteer and journalist in the early American republic. Known for his malicious humor and venomous pen portraits of his political enemies, Cobbett dismissed Benjamin Franklin as a "whoremaster, a hypocrite, and an infidel," and he greeted the news that the Scottish democrat Thomas Muir had lost an eye in a naval battle with the words "So far, so good.".

Cobbett, "ambitious to become the citizen of a free state," arrived in the United States as an English republican emigre in 1792 and settled in Philadelphia. Two years' experience of the country turned him into a ferocious critic of American democracy. He registered in scathing terms his disgust with changing social and political attitudes in America during the French Revolution, ridiculing the democratic republican enthusiasm for egalitarianism, attacking the first signs of the struggle for women's rights in the new nation, and pouring scorn on attempts to revolutionize American theater, music, art, and language along rational democratic lines.

Writing in an iconoclastic style that combined Burkean politics with Swiftian satire, he expressed the conservative backlash against such changes and found a remarkably receptive audience for his views.

In this book David A. Wilson brings together seven of Cobbett's major American pamphlets with extracts from his newspaper writing and provides an introduction that locates him in the political and social context of his time. Examining the nature of Cobbett's ideology, style, and popular appeal, Wilson argues that his emphasis on traditional Christian virtues and family values anticipates some of the attitudes of the present-day religious right. But Wilson also suggests that Cobbett's critique of hypocrisy and corruption in the democratic system contained radical elements that remain relevant today.

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