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'Knowledge is Power'


"Of all the tyrannies of human kind,
The worst is that which persecutes the mind;
For spite of man's consent or man's decree,
A right to life is right to liberty."

Dryden



This symbol is much used in the Working Class Movement Library. It adorns the cover of the quarterly newsletter Shelf Life.  It is reproduced from the Poor Man's Guardian which was published by Henry Hetherington from 1831 to 1835 and is perhaps the most lively and hard-hitting of all the radical journals.

Hetherington and other radical publishers refused to pay the newspaper tax which they called 'taxes on knowledge". In defiance of the law, they continued to publish papers priced at one penny to bring them within the purchasing power of working people.

Supporters of the 'unstamped press' waged war on the government and although hundreds of publishers and vendors were imprisoned, in 1836 the tax was reduced from four pence to one penny.

Hetherington wrote in the first issue of Poor Man's Guardian:  "Defiance is our only remedy: - we cannot be a slave in all: we submit to much - for it is impossible to be wholly consistent - but we will try, step by step, the power of RIGHT against MIGHT, and we will begin by protecting and upholding this grand bulwark and defence of all our rights - this key to all our liberties - THE FREEDOM OF THE PRESS."

The Working Class Movement Library exists to preserve and present the proud history of  working people in line with the tradition of the right to disseminate information and knowledge.