Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke

Famous as Statesman, Author, Orator, Political Theorist/ Philosopher
Born on 12 January 1729
Born in Dublin, Ireland
Died on 09 July 1797
Nationality United Kingdom



Edmund Burke


Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke is a great name in the field of British politics mainly remembered for his role in supporting the cause of American Revolutionaries. Burke was a man of varied roles, a veteran member in the House of Commons of Great Britain, leading member of the Whig party, great political orator/theorist/philosopher and author. Burke is known for representing classical liberalism and regarded as the founding father of modern conservatism philosophy. Burke was a great political person who had been appreciated both by the conservatives and liberals in the 19th century. Burke is widely known for his expressions and support speeches for the grievances of the American colonies under British rule. He had been appointed in various administrative posts in the government. In 1786 Burke had made his irremovable mark in the pages of history for pursuing impeachment against Warren Hastings who was the former Governor General of Bengal in India. Although Burke's reflections on French revolution were subjected to controversy but in the later years his thoughts on French Revolution were considered politically influential and greatly conservative. Burke was a great political figure who rose to fame and acclaim for his vocal and written approaches towards international events and causes.

Edmund Burke Childhood and Youth 
Edmund Burke was born on 12 January 1729 in Dublin, Ireland to a rich family. His father Richard was a successful solicitor of the Church of Ireland and mother Mary was from a modest yet cultured County Cork family. Burke had grown up as a boy having Anglican faith much under his father’s influence. Dublin was in a unhealthy state where a boiling point was created by religion and politics. Burke spent much of his childhood away from Dublin. His early education was from Quaker school in Ballitore which was located 30 miles (48 km) away from Dublin. In 1744 Burke attended Trinity College, Dublin. In 1747 he formed a Debating Club, known as Edmund Burke's Club (in 1770 this club joined the Historical Club to come up with the College Historical Society) which is now regarded as the oldest undergraduate society in the world. Burke completed his graduation in 1748. Burke’s father was keen to make his son pursue law. In 1750 Burke went to London to study law where he enrolled himself at The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple (commonly known as Middle Temple). Soon Burke lost interest in legal studies and gave up studying law to travel in and around Europe. Burke took up writing as a career after law.
 
Writing Career 
In the spring of 1756 Burke published his first work, “A Vindication of Natural Society: A View of the Miseries and Evils Arising to Mankind” which was a clear imitation of the previous work of late Lord Bolingbroke's “Letters on the Study and Use of History” published in 1752 and his collected works which had appeared in 1754. Burke was inspired by Lord Bolingbroke's style of writing and his ideas. Burke supported Bolingbroke's arguments against revealed religion and stated that those could well be applied on most social and civil institutions. Burke’s writing gained huge appreciation and all the book reviews for his book were positive which made Burke be pronounced as a quality writer. Burke’s book was a satire which was much misunderstood and less understood by critics and readers so Burke wrote in the preface to the second edition in 1757 that his book was a satire. In 1757 Burke brought out a treatise on aesthetics, “A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful”. Continental thinkers like Denis Diderot and Immanuel Kant keenly read and assessed Burke’s book.
 
On 25 February 1757 he joined hands with Robert Dodsley with whom Burke signed a contract in order to write a “history of England from the time of Julius Caesar to the end of the reign of Queen Anne” which was a 640 page bulky writing project and was to be submitted by Christmas 1758 for publication. Burke completed writing till the year 1216 but could not finish it. The book was not published before 1812. In 1812 a book on Burke's collected works under the title of “An Essay Towards an Abridgement of the English History” was published after Burke had died.
 
According to evidences Robert Dodsley had opened a publication named ‘Annual Register’ which had eminent writers making their written entries on international political events. There are doubts as to whether Burke was also a part of Annual Register. However is certain evidences are to be believed Burke had been the chief editor for Annual Register till 1789. While in London Burke had several well known acquaintances like painters, writers and intellectuals which included Samuel Johnson, David Garrick, Oliver Goldsmith, and Joshua Reynolds. Edward Gibbon.
 
Personal Life 
Burke married Jane Mary Nugent on 12 March 1757. Nugent’s father was a Catholic physician who had attended to and treated Burke at Bath. Burke and Jane’s son Richard was born on 9 February 1758. The couple had another son Christopher who had died as an infant.
 
Career in Parliament 
Burke’s entry into British Parliament took a bit of time. Around late 1750s Burke got introduced to William Gerard Hamilton. Soon Hamilton got appointed as the Chief Secretary for Ireland and Burke was appointed as his private secretary travelling to Dublin. Burke remained in this position for 3 years. In 1765 Burke was appointed as the private secretary to liberal Whig statesman Charles Watson-Wentworth, the Marquess of Rockingham. In December 1765 Burke joined the British Parliament as a member of the House of Commons for Wendover. On his maiden speech Burke made an impact and according to William Pitt the Elder, Burke had “spoken in such a manner as to stop the mouths of all Europe”. Burke published his pamphlet “Observations on a Late State of the Nation” which was in direct response to Grenvillite pamphlet “The Present State of the Nation” in 1769.
 
Burke rose as a leading figure in raising his voice against unrestrained royal power in Great Britain. He debated about the constitutional limits to the executive authority of the King. Burke persistently talked about the need of political parties and their roles in preventing monarchical abuses of power. On 23 April 1770 Burke published his “Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents”. During 1771 Burke wrote a Bill about a proposed right for the juries to judge on libel but it was opposed. Burke was also greatly involved in pursuing the right to publish debates held in Parliament. On 16 November 1770 Burke spoke in favour of free market in corn in a parliamentary debate that was held to discuss the prohibition on the export of grain where he stated, “There are no such things as a high, & a low price that is encouraging, & discouraging; there is nothing but a natural price, which grain brings at an universal market”. It was with Burke’s sole effort that that the ‘Repeal of Certain Laws Act 1772’ was passed in 1772. This law abolished completely existing laws against dealers and forestallers in corn. Burke was very vocal in condemning the Partition of Poland in the Annual Register publication for 1772 which was published in July 1773. Burke could not accept the political breakdown of Poland and stated as, “the first very great breach in the modern political system of Europe”.
 
In 1774 Burke was elected as the member for Bristol which was a big English city of the time, with great electoral contest due to the big size of the constituency. In May 1778 Burke greatly stood against the restrictions on Irish trade and participated in a Parliamentary motion that stood for revising the restrictions.
 
Burke lost his parliamentary seat in 1780 because of his support for unconventional laws and motions like free trade. In the same year Burke condemned using of pillory for two men convicted for attempting to practice sodomy. For the rest of his parliamentary career Burke sat for Malton.
 
Support for American Colonies
Burke supported the American Revolution. He felt strongly about the grievances of the American colonies under the government of King George III and his appointed representatives. On 19 April 1774 Burke made a speech (published in January 1775) that was directed to cancel the tea duty. On 22 March 1775 Burke delivered a speech (published in May 1775) about American reconciliation inside the House of Commons. Burke was well aware of the situation embroiling in America and warned England of the dire consequences that were to be faced by England from America. Burke fell into trouble in 1780 when The Gordon Riots of 1780 started off. These riots were an anti-Catholic uprising against the Papists Act of 1778. Burke himself was targeted by rioters and his home was placed under armed guard by the military. In 1782 Burke became the Paymaster of the Forces and a Privy Councillor but without a cabinet seat. Burke passed two Acts, “The Paymaster General Act 1782” and “The Civil List and Secret Service Money Act 1782”. Burke cancelled 134 offices in the royal household and civil administration.
 
Great role in impeaching Warren Hastings
Burke played a great role in impeaching Warren Hastings. Warren Hastings, the former Governor General of Bengal was impeached in 1786 solely because of Burke’s persuasion. Burke played an integral role in understanding the issues surrounding the East India Company when he was appointed Chairman of the Commons’ Select Committee on East Indian Affair in 1781. On February 28, 1785 Burke made his famous speech on “The Nabob of Arcot's Debts” where he rightly explained and condemned the damage that he felt was a great act of damage done by East India Company in India.  On April 4, 1786 Burke presented the House of Commons with his “Article of Charge of High Crimes and Misdemeanors” against Hastings. The trial started on 14 February 1788.
 
On French Revolution
From the beginning Burke was not against French Revolution as a letter written to one of his friends said, “England gazing with astonishment at a French struggle for Liberty and not knowing whether to blame or to applaud! The thing indeed, though I thought I saw something like it in progress for several years, has still something in it paradoxical and Mysterious. The spirit it is impossible not to admire; but the old Parisian ferocity has broken out in a shocking manner”. However the very first condemnation of the French Revolution came from Burke on 9 February 1790 in the Parliamentary debate on the Army Estimates. Burke strongly felt about the importance of the revolution but argued against the idea of abstract, metaphysical rights of men and instead advocated national tradition.
 
Later Years 
In November 1795 Burke took part in a Parliamentary debate which was on the high price of corn where he wrote a memorandum to Pitt on the subject. Burke had to rewrite his memorandum because of a notice appearing that Burke would soon be publishing a letter (regarding the subject) to the Secretary of the Board of Agriculture (Arthur Young), but he failed to complete it. According to Economist Adam Smith Burke was “the only man I ever knew who thinks on economic subjects exactly as I do, without any previous communications having passed between us”. He wrote a letter to a friend in May 1795 where he stated about his thoughts on the rising religious discontent, “I think I can hardly overrate the malignity of the principles of Protestant ascendency, as they affect Ireland; or of Indianism, as they affect these countries, and as they affect Asia; or of Jacobinism, as they affect all Europe, and the state of human society itself. The last is the greatest evil”. By May 1795 Burke thought differently, “Our Government and our Laws are beset by two different Enemies, which are sapping its foundations, Indianism, and Jacobinism. In some Cases they act separately, in some they act in conjunction: But of this I am sure; that the first is the worst by far, and the hardest to deal with; and for this amongst other reasons, that it weakens discredits, and ruins that force, which ought to be employed with the greatest Credit and Energy against the other; and that it furnishes Jacobinism with its strongest arms against all formal Government”.
 
Death
Burke suffered from stomach ailment. He died in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire on 9 July 1797.

Edmund Burke Timeline:
1729 - Edmund Burke was born on 12 January
1744 - Burke attended Trinity College, Dublin
1747 - He formed a Debating Club, known as Edmund Burke's Club (in 1770 this club joined the Historical Club to come up with the College Historical Society) which is now regarded as the oldest undergraduate society in the world
1748 - Burke completed his graduation
1750 - Burke went to London to study law where he enrolled himself at The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple (commonly known as Middle Temple)
1756 – In the spring, Burke published his first work, “A Vindication of Natural Society: A View of the Miseries and Evils Arising to Mankind”
1757 - Burke wrote in the preface to the second edition that his book was a satire
1757 - Burke brought out a treatise on aesthetics, “A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful”
1757 - On 25 February he joined hands with Robert Dodsley with whom Burke signed a contract in order to write a “history of England from the time of Julius Caesar to the end of the reign of Queen Anne”
1757 - Burke married Jane Mary Nugent on 12 March
1758 - Burke and Jane’s son Richard was born on 9 February
1765 - Burke was appointed as the private secretary to liberal Whig statesman Charles Watson-Wentworth, the Marquess of Rockingham
1765 - In December Burke joined the British Parliament as a member of the House of Commons for Wendover
1769 - Burke published his pamphlet “Observations on a Late State of the Nation” which was in direct response to Grenvillite pamphlet “The Present State of the Nation”
1770 - On 23 April Burke published his “Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents”
1771 - Burke wrote a Bill about a proposed right for the juries to judge on libel but it was opposed
1773 - Burke was very vocal in condemning the Partition of Poland in the Annual Register publication for 1772 which was published in July 1773
 
1774 - Burke was elected as the member for Bristol which was a big English city of the time, with great electoral contest due to the big size of the constituency. 1774 - On 19 April Burke made a speech (published in January 1775) that was directed to cancel the tea duty
1775 - On 22 March Burke delivered a speech (published in May 1775) about American reconciliation inside the House of Commons
1778 - In May Burke greatly stood against the restrictions on Irish trade and participated in a Parliamentary motion that stood for revising the restrictions
1780 - Burke fell into trouble when The Gordon Riots of 1780 started off. These riots were an anti-Catholic uprising against the Papists Act of 1778. Burke himself was targeted by rioters and his home was placed under armed guard by the military
1780 - Burke lost his parliamentary seat because of his support for unconventional laws and motions like free trade
1781 - Burke played an integral role in understanding the issues surrounding the East India Company when he was appointed Chairman of the Commons’ Select Committee on East Indian Affair
1782 - Burke became the Paymaster of the Forces and a Privy Councillor but without a cabinet seat
1785 - On February 28, Burke made his famous speech on “The Nabob of Arcot's Debts” where he rightly explained and condemned the damage that he felt was a great act of damage done by East India Company in India
1786 - On April 4, Burke presented the House of Commons with his “Article of Charge of High Crimes and Misdemeanors” against Hastings
1786 - Warren Hastings, the former Governor General of Bengal was impeached solely because of Burke’s persuasion
1788 - The trial against Hastings started on 14 February
1790 - The very first condemnation of the French Revolution came from Burke on 9 February in the Parliamentary debate on the Army Estimates
 
1795 - He wrote a letter to a friend in May where he stated about his thoughts on the rising religious discontent, “I think I can hardly overrate the malignity of the principles of Protestant ascendency, as they affect Ireland; or of Indianism, as they affect these countries, and as they affect Asia; or of Jacobinism, as they affect all Europe, and the state of human society itself. The last is the greatest evil”
1795 - By May Burke thought differently, “Our Government and our Laws are beset by two different Enemies, which are sapping its foundations, Indianism, and Jacobinism. In some Cases they act separately, in some they act in conjunction: But of this I am sure; that the first is the worst by far, and the hardest to deal with; and for this amongst other reasons, that it weakens discredits, and ruins that force, which ought to be employed with the greatest Credit and Energy against the other; and that it furnishes Jacobinism with its strongest arms against all formal Government”
1795 - In November Burke took part in a Parliamentary debate which was on the high price of corn where he wrote a memorandum to Pitt on the subject
1797 – He died on 9 July

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