July 31, 1703

On July 31, 1703, English writer, Daniel DeFoe was placed in a pillory for the crime of publishing a politically satirical pamphlet, ‘The Shortest Way with the Dissenters’. The pamphlet was written as though a rabid, bigoted High Anglican zealot. It drew from many of the words and sermons of the Anglican church and said that the best way to deal with government dissenters was to banish them from England and to hang their preachers and leaders. DeFoe’s intention was to mock the Anglicans, but they weren’t smart enough to see that it was satire, and endorsed it. It was quickly found out that DeFoe wrote the pamphlet and he was quickly judged and sentenced for the crime of seditious libel. But instead of being pelted with rotten fruit and vegetables, as well as the decayed corpses of small, and not so small, rodents and other animals, the crowd pelted him with flowers. Which completely destroyed the example that the government was trying to set. Years later, Oscar Wilde thought upon DeFoe’s punishment with envy.

About Joel Byers

Born in North Georgia and educated at some very fine public institutions. Real education started after graduating from college and then getting married and raising two boys. Has the ability to see the funny and absurd in most things and will always remark on it, even if it means getting the stink-eye from his victims.
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