Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



Edmund Burke’s legacy has heretofore centered on his seminal work, The Reflections on the Revolution in France. However, Burke’s other contributions have been largely ignored. Therefore, the purpose of this thesis is to focus on Burke’s literary and political role in the British response to the French Revolution from 1790 until his death in 1797. This study is divided into four chapters. The first chapter contains a contextual background of Burke’s moral and political philosophy. It explains why Burke responded in the manner he did to the French Revolution. The remaining three chapters, in a chronological manner, trace Burke’s influence on the British government’s response to the French Revolution. These roughly six years can be divided into three approximately two-year periods. Chapter 3 analyzes the first period which begins in November 1790 and extends until January 1793. It encompasses the reaction to the Reflections, and ends right before the outbreak of war between Britain and France. The second period, lasting from February 1793 until July 1795, is examined in Chapter 4. Included in this timeframe are Burke’s dealings with the British government concerning war policy; this section ends with the invasion of Quiberon. Chapter 5 studies the third and final period which starts in August 1795 and continues to Burke’s death in July 1797. It witnesses Burke’s withdrawal from foreign affairs, and his investment in the Penn school for émigré children. Source material includes four volumes of Burke’s Correspondence, and uses several primary sources, including A Letter to a Member of the National Assembly, Thoughts on French Affairs, Letters on a Regicide Peace, among others. Secondary literature sources are supplementally used to interpret the events and political thinking during that period of time. The findings show that Burke was responsible for a greater impact on the French Revolution than he is credited by most scholars. Regarded by most historians and political scientists as the father of modern Anglo-conservatism, Burke’s legacy should be amended to include his accomplishments following the publication of the Reflections, and his impact on British foreign policy.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Marchand, Suzanne L.



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History Commons