Who Was Junius?

whitewave

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In the early months of 1756 Britain was facing a likely invasion by France and a staggering national debt. King George III was generally acknowledged by all as being mentally deficient/deranged and generally unfit to rule. *The East India Company (p.253), supposedly belonging to Britain, showed that they were no ones lackey, er "citizens", and refused to renegotiate terms for contract of good promised by the crown. Britain badly needed resources. And quick!

The 7 years war gained Britain Canada, wresting it from the French. Still, the crown could scarcely pay interest on the national debt and was squeezing every last cent in taxes from its subjects in the colonies and elsewhere. The colonists, wanting to be loyal citizens, began to murmur that they were being treated like a vassal state instead of like citizens abroad. They worked hard facing daily dangers so that their monarch could continue his debauched lifestyle. Tensions inevitably arose.

While the colonists were fomenting rebellion, the folks back home were complaining bitterly against what they saw as pis poor management by their sovereign. Newspaper articles (possibly by a confederacy) began to appear railing against the policies of the potentate. This went on for 7 years and as provocative as the editorial articles were in general, an added bit of intrigue was piqued by the populous who wildly speculated as to the identities of the bold writers.

There is a lengthy list of accused (since it was treason most foul to openly deride the decisions of the ruling sovereign) and 2 men were convicted of the crime and punished accordingly which, unfortunately, did not stop the letter writing campaign. The seditious writers, knowing the penalty for their actions, wrote under assumed names: Atticus, Lucius, and most notoriously, Junius as well as others. These 3 argued amongst themselves as much as they warned of doomsday predictions should the situation not be speedily ameliorated. King George states he eventually discovered the identity of Junius, the most culpable of the writers, and directed in his will that the identity of the culprit would only be made public upon his death.

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One has to question at this point, 'What could cause a KING to conceal the identity of a traitorous state incendiary such as Junius'? Was he frightened of the personage or of his power? Did Junius have ruinous information against the King that could finally unseat him? Was Junius a beloved friend or family member? Who was this this Junius to keep hidden his identity even after the Kings death when the kings last testament should have exposed him? It is still not known although the rumor mills have entertained over 200 years of speculation rivaling the most successful of scandalous tabloids. A collection of the Letters of Atticus, Lucius, Junius and others.

It seems absurd that a public argument between learned and esteemed men should continue 7 long years, mostly over the favor shown by the King in his treatment of Jeffery Amherst. King George increased the peerage of his soldier to astounding heights, of which certain men were vociferously vocal in their disapproval. Other arguments along the same lines made libelous accusations against several appointments to positions of power of men deemed ill-suited to them and whose mismanagement of their posts were considered contributory to the current miseries of England. It is generally assumed, among the long list of supposed authors, that the identity of the infamous Junius was Phillip Francis.

In 1960 (200 years later) an computer analysis was done on the letters comparing styles of speech and frequency of words with Phillip Francis' known writings and determined him to be the most likely Junius candidate. Edmund Burke was a prime suspect for a while. He too, claims to have discovered the identity of Junius but also refused to reveal the offenders name.

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Sir Philip Francis (22 October 1740 – 23 December 1818) was an Irish-born British politician and pamphleteer, the supposed author of the Letters of Junius, and the chief antagonist of Warren Hastings. His accusations against the latter led to the impeachment of Warren Hastings and Elijah Impey by Parliament. He belonged to the Whig party. Born in Dublin, son of the literary esteemed Dr. Phillip Francis. ****Although he did well for himself in his career, he was not known to be a personal confidant of the king.

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Duel between Warren Hastings and Philip Francis.

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Edmund Burke (12 January 1729 – 9 July 1797) was an Irish statesman born in Dublin, as well as an author, orator, political theorist and philosopher, who after moving to London in 1750 served as a member of parliament (MP) between 1766 and 1794 in the House of Commons with the Whig party. He shared many of the same complaints regarding the state of the empire as Francis and was a prolific, well-respected philosophical and political writer. He was a personal friend of the prime minister in 1765 who introduced him to freemasonry.

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A literary party at Sir Joshua Reynold's​

*Although he also did very well in his career, enjoying popularity, wealth and many blessings, neither was he a confidante of the king.

Two other contenders for the dubious distinction of being named the infamous Junius: Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine.

An 1872 book by Joel Moody, Junius unmasked: or Thomas Paine the author of the letters of Junius. and a 1917 book by William Henry Graves, Junius Finally Discovered. Graves' biographical and literary study was supported by the Thomas Paine National Historical Society.

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Both men were in London at the times that these papers were being published and Franklin was a well-known freemason. In Europe, the Masons were known for plotting against royal governments. In America, they became known for promoting Republican virtues of self-government. Thomas Paine was never proven to be a freemason although his inner circle of close friends were mostly comprised of freemasons and he wrote the book on The Origins of Freemasonry. He authored the two most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution and inspired the patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Britain. Franklins' style of writing is more statesman-like with a calm, witty, erudite tone whereas Paines' style was inflammatory enough that the crown basically declared Jihad on him. Of the 2, Paine is a much more likely candidate to be considered as the source of the Junius writings. I don't presume to be able to solve a 200 year old mystery that accurately predicted exactly how Americans would react to their situation and I know that Paine was never seriously considered a suspect but maybe he should have been.

* The East India Trade is so far altered for the better, that we do not send such quantities of bullion as heretofore to China, and indeed we have it not to send. Yet the resources of this trade are, at best precarious: nor is the balance of it even now clearly in our favor. A single defeat in India (an event not quite out of the limits of possibility) would go near to annihilate the company.
**The English East India Company became a crucial pillar of the London financial and stock market, a key creditor to the English state, and an important player in English politics. Collectively known as the Court of Committees, these men governed an independent political system, a network of ships, soldiers, and "servants" (as its employees were known) in Europe and Asia. Charles II and his successor, James II (1633–1701), issued further patents, expanding the company's powers to enforce law (including martial law) on English subjects in Asia, to make war and peace, to mint coins, and to "erect and build Castles, Fortifications, Forts, Garrisons, Colonies or Plantations" as the company saw fit. (Why would a king do that?) In 1696 the company was given a the right to collect revenue and to administrate over three villages in eastern India, as well as permission to fortify in the city that would soon be known as Calcutta, with Fort William at its center. From 1686 to 1690, the company fought wars with Siam and the Mughal Empire, one in Bengal and another in Bombay. Their revenue collector and administrator status effectively gave the English East India Company sovereign power in Bengal, causing a political crisis back in Britain. In 1767 Parliament formed an ad hoc committee to hold inquiries into company actions. The House of Commons also began to pass a series of acts designed to limit company power and increase oversight of its affairs.
 
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