1683: Execution of Algernon Sidney

Algernon Sidney, c. 1665


Algernon Sidney writes his radically anti-monarchical Discourses Concerning Government during the Exclusion Crisis of 1679-81. It is published posthumously in 1698 and has a tremendous influence on the radical Whigs and the founding fathers of America.


Sidney is executed for an alleged plot against Charles II in 1683. Just before the execution, he delivers a speech on the scaffold:


“… we live in an age that maketh truth pass for treason; I dare not say anything contrary unto it, and the ears of those that are about me will probably be found too tender to hear it. My trial and condemnation sufficiently evidence this.”
– Algernon Sidney on the scaffold

Read the full speech here.