The English writer Daniel Defoe was put in the pillory for seditious libel after publishing a politically satirical pamphlet.

Defoe had authored a number of political pamphlets by the time he published The Shortest Way with the Dissenters, which satirised the increasing hostility towards religious Dissenters after Queen Anne succeeded to the throne. Also known as nonconformists, the term applied to a range of Protestant denominations that had broken away from the Anglican High church over the course of the previous century, and who were often the target for criticism and persecution.

Shortly after Anne came to the throne parliament began to debate a Bill that would make it more difficult for Dissenters to hold public office. In its wake, High church clergymen and the Tory press published numerous sermons and pamphlets warning against Dissenters assuming positions of political power.

Defoe himself was a Presbyterian, who responded with a pamphlet of his own. Written as a satire from the point of view of the High church and Tory arguments, Defoe later explained that he sought to mock them by taking their arguments to the extreme. However, the pamphlet was initially taken seriously by both sides and ultimately led to the Tory ministry of the time coming under scrutiny for their handling of the issue of Dissenters.

Despite publishing the pamphlet anonymously, Defoe was identified and later found guilty of seditious libel. He was sentenced to endure public humiliation in a pillory, and then to be imprisoned until he paid a punitive fine that he was unlikely ever to afford. While in the pillory the public allegedly threw flowers at him instead of the customary unpleasant objects. He was later released from prison after his fine was paid in return for him agreeing to work for the Tories.

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