John Thelwall, The Rights of Man and the right to live: Radical politics, the people and political economy in the 1790s. Richard Sheldon, Department of Historical Studies, University of Bristol In his lecture tour of 1795 Thelwall turned to one of the burning topics of the day, debated in all forums of public life from marketplace grumbling to Pitt’s cabinet: ‘the causes of the dearness and scarcity of provisions’. This question had been discussed at a varying pitch of intensity from the 1760s onwards. Adam Smith and others influenced by enlightenment political economy held that modern commercial societies, for all their glaring inequalities, provided the best opportunities for the poor to glean a decent subsistence through the encouragement of market-driven agriculture. Alongside the other fundamental questions of politics debated in the 1790s, this elemental question of right was also tested. Recent scholarship has highlighted the subsistence debates at the close of the eighteenth century as a key forum for the reception of political economy. This was, after all, the decade that saw Malthus refusing a place for the poor at nature’s mighty feast and Burke denying the natural right to subsistence. An older generation of radicals including Spence argued to the contrary that it was precisely these changes that threatened to deny the poor their ‘right to live’. Others looked back at the natural right tradition, arguing that in extraordinary times, such as a threatened famine, the rights to exist overrode the positive law of private property and should lead to a reinstitution of the original community of goods. A modern example of this was thought to be embodied in Robespierre’s law of the maximum. Following a long discussion over three lectures in April and May, Thelwall proposed to find the remedy in ‘A loud, a fervid, and resolute remonstrance with our rulers’. This paper examines Thelwall’s approach in the lectures and his later Rights of Nature, questioning the effectiveness of radicalism’s response to economic questions.