‘Two-Penny Trash’: 1812–1817
By 1815 the tax on newspapers had reached 4d. per copy. As few people could afford to pay 6d. or 7d. for a daily newspaper, the tax restricted the circulation of most of these journals to people with fairly high incomes. Cobbett was only able to sell just over a thousand copies a week. Nonetheless, he began criticizing William Wilberforce for his support of the Corn laws, as well as his personal wealth, opposition to bull- and bear-baiting, and particularly for his support of "the fat and lazy and laughing and singing negroes."
The following year Cobbett began publishing the Political Register as a pamphlet. Cobbett now sold the Political Register for only 2d. and it soon had a circulation of 40,000. Critics called it ‘two-penny trash’, a label Cobbett adopted.
Cobbett's journal was the main newspaper read by the working class. This made Cobbett a dangerous man, and in 1817 he learned that the government was planning to arrest him for sedition.
Read more about this topic: William Cobbett