Thomas Muir was a radical, who campaigned for political reform in Scotland. He was eventually accused of sedition and transported to Australia, following one of the most notorious and controversial trials in Scottish history. He became known as the father of Scottish democracy and one of Scotland’s five ‘political martyrs’.
In the 1700s Britain controlled and governed extensive areas in the Americas and the Caribbean within its empire. In 1776, thirteen of the colonies in North America came together to reject British rule and the sovereignty of King George III over them, and to declare themselves independent states. This was formalised in the Declaration of Independence, the first step towards establishing a new nation - the United States of America. This handwritten version is thought to be one of the very first to reach Britain.
Wolfe Tone was a founder of the United Irishmen and a leading figure in the fight for Irish independence from British rule. In 1798, Tone led the United Irishmen in a major uprising, hoping to begin a nationalist and republican revolution in Ireland with the support of French troops.
This is a statue of the South American revolutionary leader Simón Bolívar. Bolívar became known as El Libertador (‘the liberator’) and founding father of many modern South American countries, such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Columbia. He sought to harness the ideas and independence movements of earlier revolutions (including the French and American revolutions), and find a way to bring them to Central and South America – calling on the written word, the sword, and his own potent charisma to seize opportunities at a time of upheaval and war.
Joseph Blanco White was a Spanish theologian, writer and poet. He campaigned against intolerance in different ways: against Napoleonic invasion of Spain, for the religious right to convert between churches (which he did from Catholic priesthood to Anglicanism), and in support of the independence of South American countries from Spanish colonial rule. He is best remembered for his sonnet Night and Death which he dedicated to Samuel Coleridge.
This painting by Gustaf Wappers depicts the Belgian Revolution of 1830, which resulted in the independence of Belgium from the Dutch-ruled United Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Thomas Paine was one of the most influential writers and activists of his time who heavily influenced the American and French revolutions.
Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) was an American printer, inventor and scientist, who went on to become a Founding Father of the United States of America.
The first – and only – successful uprising of enslaved Africans, establishing Haiti as the first independent ‘black’ republic.