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Callender, James Thomsonlocked

(1758–17 July 1803)
  • Michael J. Durey


Callender, James Thomson (1758–17 July 1803), political writer and newspaper editor, was born in Scotland, the son of a tobacconist. Of his childhood and youth little is known, except that he was raised as a Presbyterian and received a classical education. He first came to prominence in 1782 when he published a work critical of Dr. Samuel Johnson. A supplementary volume published in 1783 was less successful, and for the next seven years he worked as a clerk. During this period he married (wife's name unknown), eventually having four children. Displaying early a strong sense of self-righteousness and a Calvinist contempt for human depravity, Callender destroyed his career as a clerk by agitating for the dismissal of a superior, whom he accused of corruption. Thereafter, from about 1790, he moved toward radicalism, writing a number of anonymous pamphlets critical of British politics and extolling Scottish nationalism. In 1792 he became a member of the Scottish Friends of the People, attending the Edinburgh Convention in December 1792 as a militant radical. Later that month, Lord Gardenstone, his patron, admitted to the authorities Callender's authorship of ...

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