From the confrontational tone of its first issue, which appeared just three weeks after the Peterloo Massacre, to the protests in its final editions against the Six Acts, which passed into law shortly before its demise at the beginning of 1820, The Cap of Liberty represented the aggressive and often raucous voice of ultra-radicalism. It was marked by an activist commitment to securing change through whatever means worked, and by a mixture of comical exhortations on the evils of the political hierarchy of the day. It flaunted its ultra-radical commitments in a series of inflammatory articles with titles such as ‘WHO ARE THE TRAITORS?’ (p. 19) and ‘DEFINITION OF TREASON’ (p. 123). These articles insisted that the Peterloo Massacre and the government’s subsequent refusal to act on the matter had reversed judicial norms. It was the government that had betrayed the principles enshrined in the constitution and the interests of the people which they were appointed to serve. The Prince Regent’s participation in this assault on the welfare of the people, from his haughty rejection of a petition asking that the Manchester culprits be brought to justice, to Lord Sidmouth’s letter to the Magistrates of Manchester at his behest commending them for their behaviour on the occasion, completed this scenario of judicial inversion:

The Magistrates of Manchester ordered a set of desperadoes to arm themselves and attack a defenceless multitude of men, women, and children, peaceably assembled for the recovery of their rights, which had been treacherously lost by those in whom they had confidently reposed them. This certainly was high treason against the People. A letter of thanks is sent to them by the Prince Regent, through the medium of Lord Sidmouth! Was not this treason, heinous treason against the people? Let the nation judge, and let the guilty tremble (p. 20).