This broadside begins: 'FELLOW CITIZENS! AND FELLOW COUNTRYMEN! We rejoice to unite with you in mutual congratulations over the happy event which has this day brought us together. Scotland is now, for the first time, in a situation which realises the aspirations of the best and most enlightened of her sons, - SHE IS FREE!' It includes a decorative border and an illustration of Britannia along with the words 'BRITANNIA, based on the Commons, throwing off the Trammels of Corruption'. According to a note at the bottom of the sheet, it was 'Printed and Distributed in the Grand Reform Jubilee Procession, by the Printers of Edinburgh, August 10, 1832.'
This sheet was published in the same year as the 1832 Reform Bill, which increased the number of Scottish M.P.s from 45 to 53, and extended the vote in the burghs to households with an annual value of £10. Whilst the electorate was significantly increased as a result, with around one in seven men receiving the vote, political power still remained within the hands of the landed classes. This fact is clearly highlighted in this broadside: 'Though few of our own number possess the franchise, we feel assured, that our rights are safe under the protection of those who enjoy it'.
Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.
View Transcription | Download PDF Facsimile
1832 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.74(301)
View larger image