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Birmingham riots

Birmingham riots, 1791. A foretaste of the great conservative revulsion against the French Revolution, directed against its sympathizers. Joseph Priestley, a unitarian scientist, had foolishly written of placing gunpowder beneath superstition and error, and was henceforth known as ‘Gunpowder Priestley’. On 14 July 1791, after a dinner to celebrate the storming of the Bastille, his house, library, and scientific apparatus were destroyed by the mob, while the authorities were suspiciously inactive. Several dissenting meeting-houses were also burned before dragoons from Nottingham arrived to restore order. Four rioters were executed.

J. A. Cannon

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