Edmund Burke

Portrait by Joshua Reynolds, 1774

QUICK FACTS
BORN:
12 January 1729 in Dublin, Ireland
  DIED:
9 July 1797 in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England

AUTHOR OF
  • A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, 1757
  • Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, 1770
  • Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790
Portrait to come. See entry in Wikipedia.

[Of those opposed to slavery,] George Washington belonged, with Mason and Jefferson, in the hardest category — disapproving owners. Theirs was the most difficult position to maintain, psychologically and rhetorically. It would not be maintained over the next sixty years, as southern antislavery rhetoric withered. Practically and politically, disapproving owners were in the hardest position from which to achieve their goals. How do you weaken an institution in which you and all your neighbors are enmeshed? Washington did enough, finally, to free his own slaves, which was more than many owners in his position did. Jefferson never freed all his, nor did any of the other slave-owning presidents.

Richard Brookhiser
Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington (1996)