Born in England in 1599, Richard Overton was a famous pamphleteer. He wrote papers that dealt especially with controversial topics. Overton was also a follower of a political group known as the Levellers. The Levellers were especially active during the civil war in England. The members of this group pushed for equality of all men and wanted people to understand and respect their differences.
Though little is known about his early life, he is believed to have graduated from Queens College Cambridge. He worked as a playwright and actor. He wrote pamphlets against the Church of England and its bishops. His opinions often got him into trouble with the law and he was even imprisoned twice.
Mr. Overton authored about fifty articles. ‘The Just Man in Bonds’ is one of two known popular articles authored by him. The other is ‘Articles of High Treason Exhibited Against Cheapside Cross.’ He mainly did articles emphasizing that all men should be equal.
He also adhered to the belief that the legitimacy of the state is created and sustained by the will or consent of its people and not by certain chosen classes of people. It was this belief that made him get involved in plotting a coup against the government. He joined forces with Edward Sexby and John Wildman but their plan failed and he had to head for exile in Flanders.
Even in exile, he was often involved in a lot of political activities and campaigns against the government. The success of these campaigns was very limited. Richard later went back home to England where he published a new version of his pamphlet ‘Man Wholly Made.’ Overton died in the year 1664. He was 65 years old at the time of his death.
Lots of details on Richard Overton and his life remain scant and obscure. This is as a result of spending most of his life in hiding and running from the law. In fact some of his articles may have gotten lost in history due to the fact that he wrote them anonymously. Many people however agree that he intended to end political and legal privilege which served to enrich members of the governing class only and forget about the common man. richard overton
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