democratic organizations that arose in Great Britain in the 1790’s under the influence of the Great French Revolution.
In January 1792 a Corresponding Society was organized in London, followed by societies in Sheffield, Norwich, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow, and other cities and rural communities. These societies, whose membership reached 80,000, carried on a lively correspondence with each other (hence their name). They united the politically more advanced groups of industrial workers, artisans, and petite bourgeoisie. They called for the extension of universal manhood suffrage. In late 1793 the government of W. Pitt the Younger broke up a congress of democratic societies that had gathered in Edinburgh. In the spring of 1794, members of the executive committee of the London Corresponding Society were arrested, and some members of the movement were hanged. Parliament passed a series of laws making almost any oppositional activity a crime. In 1796–98, the leadership of the London Corresponding Society passed into the hands of those who favored revolutionary tactics. A secret society, United Englishmen, was formed, the goal of which was the establishment of a republic. By the end of the 1790’s, the Corresponding Societies had ceased to exist.