Political Register

Political Register

In 1802 William Cobbett started his newspaper, the Political Register. At first Cobbett's newspaper supported the Tories but he gradually became more radical. By 1806 Cobbett used the newspaper to campaign for parliamentary reform.

William Cobbett was not afraid to criticise the government in the Political Register and in 1809 he attacked the use of German troops to put down a mutiny in Ely. Cobbett was tried and convicted for sedition and sentenced to two years' imprisonment in Newgate Prison. When Cobbett was released he continued his campaign against newspaper taxes and government attempts to prevent free speech.

By 1815 the tax on newspapers had reached 4d. a copy. As few people could afford to pay 6d. or 7d. for a newspaper, the tax restricted the circulation of most of these journals to people with fairly high incomes. Cobbett was only able to sell just over a thousand copies a week. The following year William Cobbett began publishing it as a pamphlet. Cobbett now sold the Political Register for only 2d. and it soon had a circulation of 40,000.

Cobbett's journal was the main newspaper read by the working class. This made William Cobbett a dangerous man and in 1817 he heard that the government planned to have him arrested for sedition. Unwilling to spend another period in prison, Cobbett fled to the United States. For two years Cobbett lived on a farm in Long Island but with the help of William Benbow, a friend in London, continued to publish the Political Register.

William Cobbett arrived back in England soon after the Peterloo Massacre. Cobbett joined with other Radicals in his attacks on the government and three times during the next couple of years was charged with libel.

In 1821 William Cobbett started a tour of Britain on horseback. Each evening he recorded his observations on what he had seen and heard that day. This work was published as a series of articles in the Political Register and as a book, Rural Rides, in 1830.

Cobbett continued to publish controversial material in the Political Register and in July, 1831, was charged with seditious libel after writing an article in support of the Captain Swing Riots. Cobbett conducted his own defence and he was so successful that the jury failed to convict him.

Even after his election to the House of Commons in 1832 William Cobbett continued to publish the Political Register. Cobbett wrote his last article for the newspaper on 13th June 1835. Cobbett died five days later on 18th June 1835.


For National Voter Registration Day, Here's How Registering to Vote Became a Thing

O n Sept. 24, during National Voter Registration Day, volunteers all over the United States will help citizens sign up to vote in the upcoming election. For something that sounds so simple in theory, voter registration has long been the source of conflict in American politics. As the 2020 campaign gets underway, concerns range from the modern problem of hacking to the ever-present question of why and where it gets easier or harder to register and vote.

A quick look back at the first voter registration laws in the United States reveals that, when it comes to registration, things have never been simple.

In 1929, Joseph P. Harris, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin, surveyed the state of voter registration for the Brookings Institution. The hundreds of pages of research that he produced included an overview of how the whole system started:

The development [of voter-registration laws] has not been uniform throughout the country. There are, however, certain outstanding trends in the history of registration laws. The first registration law in this country was enacted in Massachusetts in 1800. This was followed by similar laws in other New England states, but very few states in other sections of the country adopted registration prior to 1860. From 1860 to 1880 laws were enacted in most of the older states in the North, first by the states with large cities, the law applying only to the large cities. From 1880 to 1900 the states of the West and South provided registration for the first time. In other parts of the country registration laws were extended to small cities, and in some states to rural sections.

…In 1742 Massachusetts limited the suffrage to owners of real estate valued at twenty pounds or more, and provided that the assessors of each town were to provide the town clerk with a copy of their land assessment for use in connection with elections. This was not a true registration list, but it is probably the earliest forerunner in this country of an official registration system.

In 1800 Massachusetts, as before mentioned, enacted the first registration law in the United States. The assessors of every town or plantation were required to prepare lists of qualified electors, and in the towns these lists were submitted to the selectmen, posted, and revised prior to each election. For the purpose of revision the selectmen or assessors met on the day of the election immediately preceding the voting to hear applications for registration.

According to one explanation, old restrictions on voting were seen by some as undemocratic, but the growing population and expanding suffrage meant that it was no longer possible for polling officials to just recognize the voters by sight. And early voter registration got the legal O.K. in Massachusetts too, in the 1832 case of Capen v. Foster, after a man who was qualified to vote turned up to cast his ballot and was denied the right because his name was not on the list of voters that, according to an 1821 Boston law, the city had drawn up. The court ruled that the existence of a voter registration system did not interfere with the right to vote, as long as the voter was given the appropriate opportunity to make sure he was registered.

It wasn’t until the middle of the 19th century, however, that the idea of voter registration really spread throughout the country.

From the start, the question about voter registration that endures to this day was immediately an issue: Were these laws designed to cut down on fraud, or was the idea to keep certain types of people from voting?

As Alexander Keyssar points out in The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States, early voter rolls were often compiled by assessors who went door-to-door, and they often missed poorer people. Other early registration systems, at a time of great nativist sentiment, were seen to target Catholics or immigrants, with tactics such as requiring registration only in areas with large minority populations. On the other hand, there was also serious concern in the United States that, without registration, a corrupt political machine system could sway election results.

As Daniel P. Tokaji put it in a 2008 William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal article about voter registration:

There can be little doubt that machine politics and attendant corruption made registration desirable and even necessary, especially in more heavily populated areas. At the same time, in both the North and the South, voter registration systems often served a more insidious purpose: they were used to keep eligible citizens from voting. Although white Democrats’ disfranchisement of southern blacks is the most notorious example, it is also clear that northern Republicans sometimes manipulated voter registration rules to disfranchise Democratic-leaning immigrants and working people. Voter registration has thus been a means not only of promoting election integrity, but also of impeding eligible citizens’ access to the ballot.

That paradox has endured as the registration system has evolved, and creative solutions are a frequent topic of discussion. For now, most Americans will find that, if they want to vote, they need to register&mdashand that there’s no time like the present.


Political History Fades From View

Re “The End of Political History?,” by Fredrik Logevall and Kenneth Osgood (Op-Ed, Aug. 29):

It is indeed a pity that American political history is disappearing from the course offerings of the history departments of American colleges and universities. It has been replaced and superseded, as the writers suggest, by sometimes exemplary specialized courses in social history, ethnic and race studies, and gender and identity studies, as well as by lowbrow and middlebrow culture studies.

The writers note, parenthetically, that the same fate has been suffered by diplomatic and military history. I would add a third major victim: American intellectual history, a once powerful and popular field. At the mid-20th century, historians like Richard Hofstadter, who combined political and intellectual history with critical sociology, provided our citizens with rich insights into our political culture. Such insights as “status revolt” and “paranoid style” continue to inform our best contemporary journalists and critics.

The end of political, diplomatic, military and intellectual history involves foreboding consequences for our future as a democracy.

The writer is emeritus professor of history and former provost at SUNY-Buffalo State.

To the Editor:

Political historians have not been entirely blameless in the decline of their subfield’s status.

They have more than occasionally damaged their reputations for nonpartisan rigor, going back at least as far as the Arthur Schlesingers Sr. and Jr., whose periodic exercises in rating the presidents invariably featured Democrats at the top of the list, and Richard Hofstadter, author of the stylish but thinly researched 1964 essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” which contributed to the scurrilous branding of the presidential candidate Barry Goldwater and his supporters as pathological.

Now, many history departments are blithely ceding the study of politics, diplomacy and international relations to political science departments, where these subfields remain vital, but the methodologies, and hence questions posed and answers provided, tend to be very different from those of historians.

The writer is an associate professor of international relations in the department of government at New Mexico State University.

To the Editor:

Fredrik Logevall and Kenneth Osgood fetishize the label of “political history.”

The most effective historians adopt multiple analytical frames, methodologies and data types when looking at a historical question. They are attuned to elite politics of the sort Mr. Logevall and Mr. Osgood discuss. But they also examine grass-roots agitation, cultural discourses, geopolitical winds and economic patterns. In other words, they defy tidy boxes like “political history.”

The writer is a historian and an assistant professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

To the Editor:

The disappearance of political history from the college classroom is a symptom of a larger problem: Why did universities stop requiring American history?

Today, only 18 percent of colleges and universities require students to take a course in United States history or government. Astonishingly, at many of the most highly ranked institutions, even history majors can graduate without taking a single American history class. At programs that do require American history, electives in niche topics often suffice. Instead of a robust survey of America’s history, courses such as History of Sexualities or History of the F.B.I. can pass for adequate.

The writer is the president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

To the Editor:

Undergraduates are voting with their feet. Studies by the American Historical Association and Phi Beta Kappa’s American Scholar point out that history is now one of the fastest declining majors across our college campuses.

In an age of globalism when students in all fields need to know more about the world they live in and the United States’ history, academic leaders are sadly implementing a course of study that is viewed by young people as increasingly irrelevant and tedious.

Fredrik Logevall and Kenneth Osgood’s call for a more balanced curriculum should not be ignored by those of us who feel that a vital major is being decimated.


Parties as Factions

The first American party system had its origins in the period following the Revolutionary War. Despite Madison’s warning in Federalist No. 10, the first parties began as political factions. Upon taking office in 1789, President George Washington sought to create an “enlightened administration” devoid of political parties (White & Shea, 2000). He appointed two political adversaries to his cabinet, Alexander Hamilton as treasury secretary and Thomas Jefferson as secretary of state, hoping that the two great minds could work together in the national interest. Washington’s vision of a government without parties, however, was short-lived.

Hamilton and Jefferson differed radically in their approaches to rectifying the economic crisis that threatened the new nation (Charles, 1956). Hamilton proposed a series of measures, including a controversial tax on whiskey and the establishment of a national bank. He aimed to have the federal government assume the entire burden of the debts incurred by the states during the Revolutionary War. Jefferson, a Virginian who sided with local farmers, fought this proposition. He believed that moneyed business interests in the New England states stood to benefit from Hamilton’s plan. Hamilton assembled a group of powerful supporters to promote his plan, a group that eventually became the Federalist Party (Hofstadter, 1969).


The annual register, or, A view of the history, politics, and literature for the year ..

Book digitized by Google from the library of Oxford University and uploaded to the Internet Archive by user tpb.

Originated with Robert Dodsley, at the suggestion of Edmund Burke, who was for some years editor and principal contributor. Some time after 1791, the copyright and stock were purchased by Otridge and other booksellers. Messrs. Rivington published a rival continuation, which lasted from 1791 to 1812, and again from 1820 to 1824, when the two united to form one publication. Cf. Lowndes. Bibliographer's manual, v. 1

Batchelder Collection: 1793 (verso of cover includes bookplate of Robert Louis Stevenson) 1811 (signature of Wordsworth on t.p.) Franklin Collection: 1775, 6th ed., 1778, 4th ed

Vols. for 1784-1785 issued in combined form 1820, in 2 parts

Some vols. in rev. editions

1758-1780. 1 v. 1758-1819. 1 v. 1781-1792. 1 v


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With the riot or without, it wasn’t going to happen, and that’s the end of it.

For future elections, it’s still important to get clarity on whether non-legislators may change election laws and procedures.

At its Feb. 19 conference, the Supreme Court will consider whether to accept the case of Republican Party of Pennsylvania v. Boockvar, which is about this very issue.


Political Register - History

Since the school shooting last Friday, intense attention has focused on gun ownership in the U.S., as well as the likelihood of real changes in gun regulation. Nate Silver posted about characteristics associated with gun ownership.

Not surprisingly, gun ownership is strongly correlated with political party, with Republicans much more likely to own guns than Democrats. As Silver explains,

Whether someone owns a gun is a more powerful predictor of a person’s political party than her gender, whether she identifies as gay or lesbian, whether she is Hispanic, whether she lives in the South or a number of other demographic characteristics.

That gap between the political parties has grown significantly since he early 1990s, as fewer and fewer Democrat and Independent households own guns:

There’s a gender gap in gun ownership, but according to exit polling of 2008 voters, it is largely due to Democrats Republican women are only slightly less likely to own guns than Republican men:

Gun ownership goes down as educational level increases:

Silver also presents differences by urban/suburban/rural location, income, military service, religious affiliation, and several other characteristics. These demographics matter, but the impact of political party remains clear, even accounting for other differences.

And Silver argues the gap may grow. Younger Democrats are less likely to own guns than older Democrats, but there’s very little difference between Republicans of different age groups:

Thus, as the two political parties consider their responses in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, they face very different realities in terms of their members’ gun ownership and likely personal stake in arguments about possible gun regulations.

Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.

Comments 9

Yrro Simyarin &mdash December 19, 2012

It's really an unfortunate situation for socially liberal gun owners. I don't really want to have to choose between electing someone who thinks my gay friends are evil and someone who thinks that I am evil.

MPS &mdash December 19, 2012

What I learned from this post is that gun ownership is high among both political coalitions.

Ron Johnson &mdash January 8, 2013

How much of the Democrat and Independent decrease is because of political polarization? "My party has left me" attitudes.

Idaho Newspaper SLAMS the NRA, Butt-Hurt Gun Nuts Demand ‘Retraction’ | Americans Against the Tea Party &mdash January 7, 2015

[…] somewhere between 22 percent 30 percent of “liberal” households have guns — as opposed to about 50 […]

Mile &mdash May 20, 2018

Does this study take in to account illegally owned guns? Seems simplistic to me, if Democrats want gun control, they should be giving up their guns in droves, setting the example. But don't think that will ever happen.

Peanut &mdash September 14, 2018

How might sociology approach an issue such as gun ownership law differently from the way economic or political science would study the same issue?

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About Sociological Images

Sociological Images encourages people to exercise and develop their sociological imaginations with discussions of compelling visuals that span the breadth of sociological inquiry. Read more&hellip


Because of privacy concerns, personal information on a voter at a voter registrar’s office, such as a home address or phone number, is often not available to the general public. Only a voter’s date of birth, mailing address and political party affiliation might be available.

In California, while personal information is not available for general public access, it is available for “journalistic purposes.”

Thus to access the address and other more detailed information for a voter at the voter registrar’s office, you will need to provide a press credential or some other form of identification showing you are a journalist or working for a journalism organization.

Here are the main sections of California law on the restrictions on public accessibility to some voter registration information and how this information is available to someone if it is to be used for “journalistic purposes.”

California Government Code Section 6254.4

(a) The home address, telephone number, e-mail address, precinct number, or other number specified by the Secretary of State for voter registration purposes, and prior registration information shown on the voter registration card for all registered voters, are confidential and shall not be disclosed to any person, except pursuant to Section 2194 of the Elections Code.

California Elections Code Section 2194

(a) The voter registration card information identified in subdivision (a) of Section 6254.4 of the Government Code:

(1) Shall be confidential and shall not appear on any computer terminal, list, affidavit, duplicate affidavit, or other medium routinely available to the public at the county elections official’s office.

(3) Shall be provided with respect to any voter, subject to the provisions of Sections 2166.5, 2166.7, and 2188, to any candidate for federal, state, or local office, to any committee for or against any initiative or referendum measure for which legal publication is made, and to any person for election, scholarly, journalistic, or political purposes, or for governmental purposes, as determined by the Secretary of State.


The Annual Register

The Annual Register began publication in 1758. It has continued under various publishers since then. Issues from the late 1700s to 1825 may exist in delayed and competing editions. No issue or contribution copyright renewals were found for this serial. (More details) The Annual Register is now published by ProQuest.

Persistent Archives of Complete Issues

  • 1758-1925: HathiTrust has volumes through 1925 digitized from the University of Michigan and the University of California. Many later volumes are searchable but not viewable online. Access to volumes after 1895 may be restricted outside the United States.
  • 1803: HathiTrust has a rival 1803 edition to the one included in the Michigan/California set above.

Official Site / Current Material

  • ProQuest's Annual Register product page has more information about the serial, and provides subscription-based access to the full run.

This is a record of a major serial archive. This page is maintained for The Online Books Page. (See our criteria for listing serial archives.) This page has no affiliation with the serial or its publisher.


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