A Light Shining in Putney
Long before Thomas Jefferson, or John Locke, a pack of unlettered grunts took on the really big political questions.
On this very day, back in 1648, the people of what was then a riverside village within a few hours ride (or convenient boat trip) from London witnessed one of the most remarkable spectacles in world history.A victorious army, a gang of squaddies if you will, had laid aside their weapons and met inside a church in order to soberly discuss issues of republican constitutional polity.
Today in 1648, ordinary people who had served in the parliamentary forces met in Putney to debate what the English civil war ought to have accomplished. The war against arbitrary monarchism had been fought and won, but what had actually be achieved? The Rainsborough brothers represented a growing body of opinion that everyone in the country had a state in government and that the franchise should…
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