"The Worst Invention Ever". The Number Lottery and its Critics during the Press Freedom Period in Denmark-Norway 1770-1773

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During the so-called Press Freedom Period, 1770–1773, in Denmark-Norway, fierce and mostly anonymous criticism of the recently introduced number lottery emerged. This opposition went beyond mainstream patriotic discourse and produced narratives of players and lottery agents as socially irresponsible individuals. The article traces the initial development of a patriotic narrative concerning matters of morality, the deterioration of the labour force, and the perceived threats against the resilience of the state. We demonstrate how the focus of criticism – during the subsequent phase leading up to the closing of Press Freedom in October-November 1773 – shifted towards the practice of playing the lottery and the actors embodying this practice as victims or abettors of the operations of an ominous state-sanctioned enterprise. This rapid transformation of discourse was a unique feature of the Press Freedom Period.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCultural and Social History
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)23-39
Publication statusPublished - 2023

ID: 365482268