James Gillray's political cartoon, "A Birmingham toast, as given on the 14th of July" (1791) depicting Priestley. Photograph by Will Brown. The Institute Collections.

On July 14, 1791, in Birmingham, England, anger at supporters of the French Revolution sent a mob into a four-day frenzy often referred to as the Priestley Riots, so named for the most prominent target of local anger: Joseph Priestley. British political caricaturist James Gillray, who opposed the Revolution, published this cartoon, A Birmingham toast, as given on the 14th of July, less than a week after the riots ended, mocking Priestley in the etching. Priestley is seen presiding over the toast with a full goblet, offering an empty communion plate and calling for a head—implied to be the king’s—among well-known Liberals and grim Dissenters holding court in a harsh parody of the iconic Last Supper.

Photograph by Will Brown. The Institute Collections.