Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Leo E. Oliva
An effective challenge to the activities of the English government in the 1760s was presented by John Wilkes. His vitriolic attacks on the chief ministers and on King George III established Wilkes and the forty-fifth issue of his newspaper, North Briton, as symbols of liberty. Exile and eventual imprisonment befell Wilkes because of his resistance to what he considered the arbitrary acts of the government during the decade, but these did not diminish his reputation as a friend of English liberty and its chief defender. In America during the 1760s there was also a growing resistance to the acts of the English government, and in the period certain American patriots began to link their cause with John Wilkes, who was a symbol of liberty. Letters were transmitted across the Atlantic by both Wilkes and the patriots, and, upon occasion, the Americans would send gifts to the English radical. More importantly, however, "Wilkes and Liberty" and the symbolic use of the number "45" were adopted by many Americans. Thus, John Wilkes played a significant role in establishing the environment necessary for the events of the 1770s.
Copyright 1966 Richard E. Meyer
Meyer, Richard E., "John Wilkes and the Boston Patriots" (1966). Master's Theses. 1002.