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Picture of Edmund Burke, the Imperatives of Empire and the American Revolution

Edmund Burke, the Imperatives of Empire and the American Revolution

An Interpretation

Editor(s): H. G. Callaway

Book Description

Edmund Burke (1730–1797) was a friend and advocate of America during the political crisis of the 1760s and the 1770s, and he spoke out eloquently and forcefully in defense of the rights of the colonial subjects of the British empire – in America, Ireland and India alike. However, he is often best remembered for his extremely critical Reflections on the Revolution in France. The present volume is based on classic Burke, including his most famous writings and speeches on the American Crisis. Though his efforts at conciliation with the American colonies ultimately failed, Burke is widely remembered, studied and venerated by liberal and conservative thinkers alike, for his elucidation and criticism of the excesses of empire and political excesses generally. Irish-born, Burke made his career as a British Whig statesman and Member of Parliament, but he was also a powerful writer of philosophical works in high literary style.

In the present volume, Burke’s ideas, ideals and arguments are explored and set in their original historical and political context. The volume places the reader in a position to understand the similarities and contrasts between the political philosophy of the Whig ascendancy in British politics and the republican political philosophy of the American founders. What comes to the fore is Burke’s twin emphasis on continuity and justice, the anti-rationalism of his opposition to directly applying abstract political theory to policy decisions, the pluralism of peoples and public mores within the empire, the crucial roles of political representation in good government, and the fundamental importance of the consent of the governed.

Was Burke a friend or a foe of revolution? Was he a “liberal” or a “conservative”? To what degree did he accept the political ideals of the American founders? How could he both defend the American protests and reject the claims of the French Revolution? Thomas Jefferson’s “Summary View of the Rights of British America” is included in the volume for comparison and contrast. This book presents a deeper understanding of Burke’s political thought by exploring the similarities and contrasts with founding ideals of America’s republican tradition.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-9051-9
ISBN-10: 1-4438-9051-0
Date of Publication: 01/06/2016
Pages / Size: 365 / A5
Price: £52.99


Dr H. G. Callaway has published widely in both the US and Europe on the philosophy of language and meaning and on the interpretation of American intellectual history. A native of Philadelphia, he holds a doctorate in Philosophy and has taught at various American and European universities and at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Dr Callaway’s work in the field of American philosophy and American intellectual history includes many professional articles and reviews, critical editions of important works by Ralph Waldo Emerson and William James, and a critical study of A.J. Dallas and the philosophy of law in the foreign policy of the early American republic. His Memories and Portraits: Explorations in American Thought was published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in 2010.