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Sheridan, Richard Brinsley (1751–1816)

Richard Gorrie


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Richard Brinsley Sheridan, a noted dramatist and politician, was regarded by friends and foes as the preeminent parliamentary orator of the period, championing causes such as political reform, the French and American Revolutions, and Irish independence. Born in Dublin, Sheridan made a name for himself as a successful playwright and proprietor of one of London's major theaters. Still in his twenties, he began a career in politics, supporting parliamentary reform and aligning himself with Charles James Fox in opposition to the colonial war and the policies of the administration. In 1780, Sheridan entered parliament and delivered monumental attacks against Warren Hastings and British policy in India. A key member of the Foxite Whig opposition to George III, Sheridan used his pen as well as his oratory to put forward the opposition's position during their long years in and out of government. His clever defense of the Prince of Wales established a lifetime friendship with the future monarch and helped align him with the Foxite Whigs. Initially, Sheridan was a strong supporter of the French Revolution , a difficult case to make as events turned increasingly violent. His position aroused the ire of his Whig colleague Edmund Burke and ended their lengthy friendship. Closer to home, Sheridan supported governmental reform and aligned himself with the Society of Friends of the People, perpetuating ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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