William Cobbett(redirected from Cobb, John Rhodes)
See biographies by G. D. H. Cole (3d. ed. 1947, repr. 1971), G. K. Chesterton (1926), J. Sambrook (1973), and G. Spatr (1982).
Born Mar. 9, 1762, in Farnham, Surrey; died June 18, 1835, near Guildford. English publicist and historian. The son of a small-scale farmer.
Until Cobbett was 19 he worked as a farmer and then held a series of jobs. After coming to the USA in 1794, he began his journalistic career there with attacks on the ideas of the Great French Revolution. He returned to his native land in 1800 and began publishing the Weekly Political Register in 1802. In vivid articles he was sharply critical of the British social and political system, gaining enormous popularity and influence in democratic circles. He was repeatedly persecuted by the government. In 1832 he was elected to Parliament. It was on Cobbett’s initiative that the minutes of Parliament began to be published in 1804 and the proceedings of the most important court trials in 1809. In his principal historical work, History of the Protestant Reformation, Cobbett came to the conclusion that the chief cause of the English Reformation was the attempt of the king and his close associates to gain control of the Catholic Church’s wealth. Cobbett noted the major role played by the state in driving the masses from the land, and he linked the development of capitalism with the worsening of the position of the masses. However, the positive side of his program was reactionary and Utopian, since he looked to the Middle Ages for his ideal of a social order.
WORKSSelections From Political Works, vols. 1–6. London, 1835.
The History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland, vols. 1–2. London, 1824–27.
REFERENCESMarx, K., and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed, vol. 9. (See the index of names.)
Cole, G. D. H. The Life of W. Cobbett. London, 1947.
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