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Henry Hunt’s invitation to the people of Manchester

Henry Hunt’s invitation to the people of Manchester in the week leading up to the meeting at St Peter’s Field that resulted in the Peterloo Massacre of 16 August 1819.

Performed by Cameron Robinson.

Archives Alive: Peterloo

The Archives Alive: Peterloo project is a collaboration between Royal Holloway, University of London, and The National Archives, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This series of short films forms part of a wide programme of activity marking the 200th anniversary of the massacre – an important milestone in the history of the struggle for rights and representation – and its aftermath. Find out more on The National Archives’ blog.

Transcription

Fellow countrymen, – Our enemies are exulting at the victory they profess to have obtained over us, in consequence of the postponement, for a week, of the PUBLIC MEETING intended to have been held Monday last.

You will meet on Monday next, my friends, and by your steady, firm, and temperate deportment, you will convince all your enemies, that you feel you have an important duty to perform; and that you will not suffer any private consideration on earth to deter you from exerting every nerve, to carry your praiseworthy and patriotic intentions into effect. 

The eyes of all England, nay, all of Europe, are fixed upon you; and every friend of real reform, and of rational Liberty, is trembling alive to the result of your meeting.

Our enemies will seek every opportunity to excite a RIOT, that they may have a pretence for SPILLING OUR BLOOD, reckless of the awful and certain retaliation that would ultimately fall upon their heads.

EVERY FRIEND OF REAL AND EFFECTUAL REFORM is offering up to heaven a devout prayer,  that you, by your steady, patient, and peaceable conduct on that day, frustrate their HELLISH and BLOODY PURPOSE.

Come, then, my friends, to the Meeting on Monday, armed with no other weapon but that of a self-approving conscience; determined not to suffer yourselves to be irritated or excited, by any means whatsoever, to commit any breach of the public peace.

Our opponents have not attempted to show that our reasoning is fallacious, or that our conclusions are incorrect, by any other argument but the threat of violence, or to put us down by the force of the sword, the bayonet, and the cannon. 

They assert, that your leaders do nothing but mislead and deceive you, although they well know, that the eternal principles of truth and justice are too deeply engraved on your hearts, and that you are too well acquainted with your own rights, ever again to suffer any man, or any faction, to mislead you.

We hereby invite the Boroughreeve, or any of the Magistrates, who signed the Proclamation declaring the Meeting, to have been held on Monday last, illegal; we invite them to come amongst us on Monday next.

If we are wrong, it is their duty, as Men, as Magistrates, and as Christians, to endeavour to set us right, by argument, by reason, and by the mild and irresistible precepts of persuasive truths.

We promise them an attentive hearing, and to abide by the result of conviction alone. But, once for all, we repeat, that we despise their THREATS, and abhor and detest those, who would direct or control the mind of man by VIOLENCE OR FORCE.

Catalogue reference: HO 42/192, folio 19.

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