I wanted to do a post regarding Edmund Burke’s role in the American Revolution, but in reading his speeches and writings from this era I was also struck by how perceptive Burke’s understanding of the American pysche was. So I decided to write two separate posts. The next will focus on Burke’s thoughts on the conflict itself, but here I’d like to take a look at some of the observations Burke had about America’s development.
I refer to two sources for Burke’s writings on America: An Account of the European Settlements in America, a history of the colonization of America, and his Speech on Conciliation with the Colonies delivered in the House of Commons on March 22, 1775. The former is an excellent little summary of the colonial period. Burke’s attention to historical detail shines through in this work. In it, Burke discusses the religious conflict within Britain, and how it would shape the views of America’s first colonists. He discusses how the hard-line dissenters – those who most sharply veered from the traditional Church – went abroad during the reign of Queen Mary and returned with a different set of values. (more…)